Weighing Franco’s Out Cover

Actor James Franco appears on this month’s cover of Out to help hype his new gay flick, Milk. (He also did a cover for Interview magazine.)

The movie’s story should be a familiar one: Harvey Milk was California’s first openly gay elected official and was later assassinated, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. Franco’s starring opposite Sean Penn, who has not been doing press for the movie, which is a bit queer.

So, Franco’s getting all this attention and people are loving him. Or hating him. It depends on who you ask.

As some of you may be aware, many readers have lambasted Out for featuring straight actors on the cover. Gawker’s Richard Lawson asks as an aside, “Plus, why does Out keep putting straight actors on their cover as if to dangle some tantalizing, forbidden fruit?”

Mr. Lawson isn’t the only one who has some unanswered questions about what would seem like run-of-the-mill straight worshiping. Rumor has it that new Advocate editor Jon Barrett isn’t so keen on the idea: “The new editor of [Out‘s] sister publication, The Advocate, has stated that he doesn’t want to put straight actors playing gay roles on the cover of that magazine.” Now, we can understand that argument – gays need to be better represented, etc, etc. But we can also understand the other side: why snub a straight man who’s perfectly willing to portray a gay man – Franco play’s Milk’s boyfriend – and embrace the land of the gay? That’s better than a distinct sexual divide, no?

No matter which side one takes, however, the end result’s the same: widespread press.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #gay #harveymilk #jamesfranco stories and more


  • Alan down in Florida

    Two questions come to mind –

    1) Why isn’t Sean Penn who plays Harvey Milk the one on the cover?

    2) Why couldn’t they find out gay actors to handle the key roles?

  • David

    I am so sick… SICK of OUT magazine putting straight guys on the cover… Idiots!!!

  • RS

    I have no problem with straight actors accepting gay roles because that allows openly gay actors to play straight characters. They are not enough good, quality gay roles for all the gay actors. (But ideally, there should always be some sort of sexual romantic scene, even if it’s irrelevant to the plot and only makes it into the DVD “extras.”)

    Regarding only putting “out” actors on OUT’s cover … how many covers can Ellen Degeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, and TR Knight do???

    (Ahem, joking.)

  • John

    Any publicity for this movie is fine with me.

    I have no problem with Sean Penn and James Franco doing the Harvey Milk story. In fact, I strongly welcome it. Both of these actors are from Northern California. They understand the material and the context. The assasination of Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk was a watershed moment in California history. Like the immigration amnesty of the 1980s and the Rodney King trial, this event changed the state’s politics in ways out-of-staters might not fully understand.

    For example, it set in motion the rise of Dianne Fienstein (who was actually thinking of retiring from politics at the time). Assembly Speaker Willie Brown barely survived being killed himself. He was on White’s “enemies list,” and was actually at City Hall on that day. And most significantly, the assasination turned the Bay Area against conservatism for years to come. Despite the occassional success of a few GOP mavericks like Reagan and Schwarzenegger, San Francisco shifted to the Democrats after 1978 and has never looked back.

  • Trenton

    “why snub a straight man who’s perfectly willing to portray a gay man – Franco play’s Milk’s boyfriend – and embrace the land of the gay? That’s better than a distinct sexual divide, no?”


    “It depends on who you ask.”


  • JJ

    Ever since Franco was in that movie where he played the New Orleans hustler, I’ve been in love with him. I enjoy seeing his picture under any circumstances.

  • Darth Paul

    I can accept this. I shun pinkface, but this isn’t comedy meant to mock gay stereotypes. It’s an important movie by a gay director about a landmark person in American queer history.

    As for Out putting straights on the cover, I see no issue there, either, provided it doesn’t become a matter of routine. Queer-ONLY mentality is backward and degenerate.

  • HL

    Ok I loves me some James (fuck me) Franco but his face looks a bit off on the cover. Was he airbrushed or something?

  • Girgas

    It is funny that when other gay magazines put straight guys on their covers bloggers go crazy – but with OUT – they get defended, Trenton?

  • Dom

    I agree that The Advocate puts too many str8 guys on their covers.
    But I also agree that gay-friendly str8 actors should be lauded for taking gay roles and supporting the gay community.
    But there is one thing we can all agree on: str8 or gay, James Franco is an absolute fucking doll.

  • ChristopherM

    Regarding Penn not being on the cover, Penn is notorious for not doing any media to promote any of his movies, or if he gets cornered into it, he’s so uncomfortable doing it that it is often harmful.

  • ggreen

    Those photos do him a lot of credit, I saw him several times during filming (with and without makeup). He’s rather homely and slight. He could be John Leguizamo’s twin.

  • Francos Milk

    Hail hail to Aaron Hicklen and his great team at OUT. James is the sexiest thing since buttery sliced bread with strawberry jam!

  • Francos Milk

    Hey but wait Alan down in Fla — you’re right!!!!! Only Gay casting. Herewith, my list:

    Which Character/Played by Whom?
    Harvey Milk/Harvey Firestein…
    His GAY lover/Tom “oh so funny it makes you want to puke” Ammiano
    Diane Feinstein/Rosie O’Donnell
    Dan White/Charles Nelson Riley (cause only a dead fag would play Dan White)

  • oneway

    Hey y’all. For all the whining we’re seeing out of aspiring models Messing and Peters, we really out to cut guys like Franco and Penn some slack.

    In this case, they’re straight guys with established careers (though Franco is still more of an up-and-comer) and here they are fully embracing a gay role, which brings gay attention, etc.

    Franco has even been a little bit juvenile about his telling of the gay kiss story. Big deal. So what if he’s a bit awkward. His heart’s in the right place, and he’s certainly no less awkward than some of the friends we’ve come out to in our own lives.

    Kudos to them all and here’s looking forward to movie!

  • givemeabreak

    let’s see if I understand the argument-
    hot young actor (straight) on cover is “dangling forbidden fruit” but hot young actor (gay) on cover is…available to all? wtf.
    can a gay actor who plays a straight role be on the cover? or only if he plays gay?
    do the models in the fashion spreads have to be gay too?
    actors act. models model. if the role or story is of gay interest that should suffice.
    ludicrous upside down pc nonsense like this is why these publications have become increasingly irrelevant and why the “younger generation” is less than interested in “gay rights.”
    If Gus Van Sant felt James Franco was the right actor for the role that should be sufficient for the magazine.

  • Andrew

    “Gawker’s Richard Lawson asks as an aside, “Plus, why does Out keep putting straight actors on their cover as if to dangle some tantalizing, forbidden fruit?”

    That’s ridiculous. So gay actors married or in relationships should also not be put on the cover because they are also “forbidden fruit”?

    Put prominent gay friendly guys on the covers if its relevent to the content.

  • Jack Scribe

    Content relevance…that’s the key. MILK is an important movie and the actor’s promoting it. Franco being ‘gay friendly’ and a hot hetero is a plus. Brad Pitt just contributed 100k to help defeat CA’s Prop 8 to overturn gay marriage. He certainly is welcome, in my eyes, on any gay magazine cover.

  • Byrd

    Is Emile Hirsch gay?

  • Qjersey

    Hmm, Advocate=News, Out=lifestyle

    put the straights on the cover of OUT, but they it does become an oxymoron of sorts doesn’t it?

  • seitan-on-a-stick

    To answer Alan Down in Florida (don’t mess up the Obama vote!)

    1/ Franco is on the cover because it sells more copies than Sean Penn. Although, those come hither eyes look like I would be stuffed in a trunk (bad photographer?)

    2/ All the Out Gay actors were On Call for the latest Michael Lucas porn extravaganza! Looking at the cover quote, was it made in the 1980s? (with the Madonna reference) or to bait homophobe hubby: Guy Ritchie (who makes laughable gang films about tough brits) with lines like “Allo, ‘Allo! What’s all this about, then?”

    3/ I thought ‘Out’ meant ‘Not on our cover, you queer’ when poor gay-for-pay always do what they are told by big daddy editor; Les Grossman. Also, ‘Out’ magazine is nowhere to be found in New York. Not at the Newstand, my very gay Doctor’s office, the Gay Center which just gives the crap away or even in Ed Koch’s trash. Come Out! Come Out! Wherever you are?

Comments are closed.