Alright, alright, that headline may be a little misleading. Of course Rent didn’t make Neil Patrick Harris gay, but it definitely helped him along.
[NPH] says he has known he is gay since he was 15 or 16. His status as a teen celebrity made for some early disorientation: “Sometimes, I didn’t really date much because I wasn’t able to go to bars and clubs,” he said.
But he credits a stint on the Broadway musical “Rent” for opening his eyes about how to interpret his sexuality. “That’s a show all about celebrating life, living in the moment, appreciating diversity on every level.”
It’s also about AIDS. And, as we all know, AIDS is totally gay. So, in a way, one could say AIDS made Neil Patrick Harris. (Shit, can you imagine what anti-gay conservatives would do with that piece of flippant, wholly insensitive humor?)
The article from which we found this snippet examines the rise of the straight-acting gay actor. No, not an actor who acts straight in real life, but gay actors who successfully play straight, like NPH.
The subtext of Harris’ Emmy nomination seems to be an effort to reassure gay actors: Relax. You can come out and still play straight guys. Even playboys, cads and heels. Just like straight guys can play gay cowboys. (As Harris marveled, “Now gay parts in big movies are only played by straight actors. They don’t really cast gay actors in gay parts!”)
Michael Jensen, an editor and columnist for the site AfterElton.com, which examines the roles of gays in entertainment, takes Harris’ Emmy nod as an affirmation that, at least when it comes to entertainers, society has moved beyond its “Is he or isn’t he?” hang-up. Or mostly, anyway; with the exception of British star Rupert Everett, not many actors up for leading-man parts are rushing to step out.
“This puts us one step away from that hurdle,” Jensen said. “Playing a cad on a sitcom is one step away from playing the lead on a romantic comedy.”
If that’s the case, we should be seeing NPH on the big screen any day now. Hopefully this role will involve more than being strung out and looking for pussy.
(PS: NPH, if you’re playing yourself in Harold and Kumar, did you really hump all the women on your show?? Just wondering…)