BV Tiger News

No, gayface is not an issue — but the lack of representation of LGBT actors is.

Kaitlin Yu, Co-editor in chief

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Oscar-nominated movie “Call Me By Your Name” was a sensation both worldwide and in the United States, lauded for its cinematography, music, acting, and most of all, its screenplay surrounding the love story between Elio Perlman, the son of a professor, and a graduate student coming to stay with his family, Oliver.

On the opposite side of its praise, though, was the criticism that it was just another film boasting straight actors playing gay characters, roles some feel would have benefited from gay actors.

The argument surrounding straight actors being casted for gay characters has existed for a while, long before “Call Me By Your Name.” The criticism has also been aimed at “Brokeback Mountain,” “Carol” and “Moonlight.”

However, telling actors of different sexualities to stay in their own lane when choosing characters to play is extremely limiting to everyone included in the process of casting. After all, sexuality is a spectrum and it isn’t always black and white.

Just as LGBT actors can play straight roles, straight actors can play LGBT roles.

If an actor can sincerely portray the character they have been casted in, then what’s the harm?

In the issue of LGBT stories, the problem isn’t that straight actors misrepresent being LGBT or exploit LGBT stereotypes to be entertaining — some critics even go as far as comparing the issue to blackface or yellowface — but that Hollywood prefers picking straight actors to play gay roles despite the skilled LGBT actors available.

According to a survey of members of actor labor union SAG-AFTRA done by UCLA, 53 percent of LGBT respondents believed directors and producers are biased against LGBT performers in hiring. 34 percent of non-LGBT respondents agreed.

These discriminatory casting practices rooted in Hollywood culture need to stop, and the LGBT community needs to be represented equally. If a person is suitable for a role, then they should be able to play it with no regards to their sexuality.

But, perhaps what makes “Call Me By Your Name” an honest portrayal of a gay love story is not necessarily the acting but its representation behind the camera.

The movie director Luca Guadagnino is openly gay, and the movie screenplay was written by James Ivory, who was previously awarded for his screenplay “Maurice,” another story with gay characters.

Clearly, the ability to convey a story accurately and beautifully doesn’t come from only the actors but also the production team.

Therefore, representation of the LGBT community needs to expand in every aspect — in stories, in characters, in directors, in producers and of course, in actors.

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No, gayface is not an issue — but the lack of representation of LGBT actors is.