Playing gay characters is not ‘brave’, says Fry

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Actor Stephen Fry has said he is not impressed with straight actors who play gay characters.

In a Radio Times interview, the QI host expressed frustration at how straight actors was seen as ‘brave’ for taking on a gay role.

He said a gay man would never be considered ‘brave’ if he played an intimate scene with a woman.

Fry’s latest role on the small screen is that of solicitor Peter

Kingdom, in the ITV series Kingdom who is single and straight.

“I think the fact that I’m so well known to be gay makes it very difficult to have a convincing relationship with a woman on screen.

“Straight actors can play gay people and they’re rather congratulated on it. People say ‘Ooh, how brave of you’,” said Fry.

He said that no one says to a gay man who plays a straight role, ‘How brave of you to kiss that woman, that must have been very difficult for you.’

Fry added: “It wouldn’t be at all difficult for me to kiss a woman – I’ll kiss a frog if you like. And why should it be difficult for a man to kiss another man?

“It’s difficult to ride bareback backwards while unicycling, but to kiss someone isn’t difficult.”

Many straight actors have received praise for playing a gay role, such as Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote and Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain.

Fry came out at quite a young age and has continually campaigned for gay equality.

“If you… have had the experiences I have had, not to share them where they can be useful is just mean,” he said.

“The obvious case is coming out as a gay man, which I did when it was quite a rare thing to do.

“You think of the average person in the playground who’s terrified of being beaten up, or the people who are not in a job like mine, where it doesn’t really matter.

“These people need to be reassured that they’re not alone and they’re not freaks.”