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'Glee' Creator Ryan Murphy: Boycott Newsweek

Ryan murphy Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee, has written an open letter in response to Ramin Setoodeh's controversial Newsweek article "Straight Jacket," in which Setoodeh argues that gay actors cannot convincingly play straight characters. Murphy urges sympathetic readers to boycott Newsweek until the publication apologizes for what he and others view as an offensive and homophobic story.

Ryan's commentary follows similar public condemnation from Tony-nominated actress Kristin Chenoweth, who has appeared as recurring character April Rhodes on Glee and is currently starring in Promises, Promises on Broadway with gay actor Sean Hayes. Chenoweth called Setoodeh's piece "horrendously homophobic," and defended Hayes and her fellow Glee guest star (and Broadway star) Jonathan Groff in her outraged response to the article.

Read Murphy's entire statement (first published by EW.com) below:

I would like to join my good friend Kristin Chenoweth on her condemnation of a recent Newsweek article written by Mr. Ramin Setoodeh, in which Setoodeh basically says that out gay actors should go back into the closet and never attempt to play straight characters. This article is as misguided as it is shocking and hurtful. It shocks me because Mr. Setoodeh is himself gay. But what is the most shocking of all is that Newsweek went ahead and published such a blatantly homophobic article in the first place… and has remained silent in the face of ongoing (and justified) criticism. Would the magazine have published an article where the author makes a thesis statement that minority actors should only be allowed and encouraged to play domestics? I think not.

Today, I have asked GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios to stand with me and others and ask for an immediate boycott of Newsweek magazine until an apology is issued to Sean Hayes and other brave out actors who were cruelly singled out in this damaging, needlessly cruel, and mind-blowingly bigoted piece. An apology should also be issued to all gay readers of the magazine…steelworkers, parents, accountants, doctors, etc…proud hardworking Americans who, if this article is to be believed, should only identify themselves as “queeny” people (a word used by Setoodeh in the article) who stand at the back of the bus and embrace an outdated decades old stereotype.

Mr. Setoodeh has recently Twittered that he is a fan of Glee, the show I co-created with Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk… the show on which Mr. Groff plays the straight love interest to Lea Michele, a casting choice embraced by fans and critics alike which Mr. Setoodeh has taken issue with.

I extend an open invitation to Mr. Setoodeh to come to the writers room of our show, and perhaps pay a set visit. Hopefully then he can see how we take care to do a show about inclusiveness… a show that encourages all viewers no matter what their sexual orientation to go after their hopes and dreams and not be pigeonholed by dated and harmful rhetoric… rhetoric he sadly spews and believes in. Hopefully, some of the love we attempt to spread will rub off on Mr. Setoodeh — a gay man deeply in need of some education —  and he not only apologizes to those he has deeply offended but pauses before he picks up his poison pen again to work through the issues of his own self loathing. Give me a call, Ramin…I’d love to hear from you. I’ll even give you a free copy of our Madonna CD, on which we cover “Open Your Heart,” a song you should play in your house and car on repeat.

Ryan

And read Kristin Chenoweth's comments here.

In their statements, Murphy and Chenoweth both note that Setoodeh himself is an openly gay man. Setoodeh has written an online story defending himself this week at Newsweek.com, in which the writer wonders why the internet community is attacking him for a story that was designed to simply "start a dialogue" about a topic that doesn't get talked about very often:

When Sean Hayes, from Will & Grace, made his Broadway debut in Promises, Promises playing a heterosexual man, the New York Times theater review included these lines: "his emotions often seem pale to the point of colorlessness ... his relationship with [his costar Kristin] Chenoweth feels more like that of a younger brother than a would-be lover and protector." This, to me, is code: it's a way to say that Hayes's sexual orientation is getting in the way of his acting without saying the word gay.

Instead of hiding behind double entendre and leaving the obvious unstated, I wrote an essay in the May 10 issue of Newsweek called "Straight Jacket" examining why, as a society, it's often hard for us to accept an openly gay actor playing a straight character. You can disagree with me if you like, but when was the last time you saw a movie starring a gay actor? The point of my essay was not to disparage my own community, but to examine an issue that is being swept under the rug...

So what do you readers think? Read "Straight Jacket" and decide: Are the abusive internet comments aimed at Setoodeh excessive, or justified? Are Murphy and Chenoweth overreacting? Will you boycott Newsweek? Leave your comments below to let us know.

-- Daniel Lehman

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Comments

I feel, being in the theater myself, that out gay men CAN (and I just worked on a project where it happened) play convincing heterosexual men. On the other hand, if it was meant as a genuine question, I don't fear it and think it is useful to dialogue which does not ever get engaged. In the same way we ask why we never see gay men starring in films (or I guess rarely would be the better word), we can also ask why women in my industry do not have equality in opportunities as actors, directors or choreographers. There are many more male playwrights, directors, actors and choreographers working always than female.
And as a woman, and at the risk of starting another question people are afraid of and think "offensive" I will say why are there more men (GAY AND STRAIGHT) working than women in my industry?

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