The Camp Vamp: Katrina Fox

Commentary on GLBTIQ issues, social justice and some of life's quirks.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Too sensitive?

There’s no doubt that GLBT people deserve equal rights and the right to expect not to be bashed for who we are, but are we being too sensitive in crying ‘homophobia’ when straight people don’t publicly embrace our lifestyle?

An article on AfterEllen.com cites various TV and film actresses who’ve played lesbian and bisexual characters and their responses to press questions about what it was like to kiss or engage in simulated sex scenes with another woman. Julianne Moore, who kissed Toni Colette’s character in The Hours, told Barbara Walters: “Toni is so pretty, and her skin was so soft, and she smelled so nice. And there wasn’t any issue. It felt very comfortable and non-threatening.” Rock chick Alanis Morissette joined in the accolades for lesbian love when she told TV Guide that her kiss with co-star Roma Maffia on Nip/Tuck was “so natural” and “there was nothing uncomfortable about it”.

It’s a great strategy – the actor is seen as ‘cool’ for being so open-minded and picks up a host of new lesbian fans. But what about anyone who dares to voice a non-positive opinion about same-sex pashing? Jake Gyllenhaal felt the sharp end of openly gay actor Sir Ian McKellen’s tongue when he confessed that Brokeback Mountain was one of the most “terrifying” jobs he’d done because it involved kissing a man. More recently, British lesbian magazine Diva reported that Rebecca Atkinson found her lesbian sex scenes with co-star Lindsey Dawson in the TV series Shameless “disturbing”. Atkinson said: “It was in no sense enjoyable, and Lindsey got very embarrassed doing the scene with me.”

Maybe it is deep-seated internalised homophobia in these people which raises the ire of the GLBT community. Or maybe we’re just overreacting. Gyllenhaal didn’t say he found gays disgusting, or call his co-star a faggot like Isaiah Washington of Grey’s Anatomy did recently, outing T.R. Knight into the bargain; he said he was scared. McKellen said Gyllenhaal’s comments would be like McKellen saying the most appalling thing he’d done in his career was kiss Helen Mirren.

Actors have to do many things that push them outside their comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean they’re obliged to enjoy them. And that includes kissing someone you’re not attracted to. Maybe Atkinson has some unresolved issues around her sexuality. Maybe she’s a ‘prude’, ‘close-minded’ or a homophobic fundamentalist Christian. Or maybe she simply doesn’t like kissing girls and, instead of trotting out the politically correct response of her peers, was just being honest enough to say so. I’d be delighted to kiss Helen Mirren (although preferably not when she’s in character as Queen Elizabeth II) but not everyone would, including that old poof Sir Ian, who isn’t going to convince anyone that a bit of tongue action with the Prime Suspect actress was the most exciting thing he’s ever done. Conversely I’d be terrified at the prospect of pashing Tom Cruise. That doesn’t automatically make me heterophobic. Heck, I’d find it equally disturbing to have to get it on with Renee Zellweger.

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