Playing it straight: performing sexuality in entertainment

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University of Alabama Libraries

While film and television help provide a window into the processes of actors' personal and professional lives, we still have yet to hear of the experiences from our own local theatre companies. Further, while there has been discussion of straight men playing gay roles, Americans have yet to hear the experiences of gay men playing straight roles. Utilizing a grounded theory approach, this research focuses on the experiences of nine self-identified gay male actors at a large southeastern university. Results concluded that gay actors encounter a great amount of heteronormativity in personal life and the theatre. Further, the entertainment sphere and its audiences were found to be influencing factors in the maintaining of gender/sexuality binaries. Consequently, actors tend to reinforce stereotypes of gender/sexuality binaries in order to have "readable" characters with audience members. Research also revealed complex decision making processes gay actors encounter through personal and professional lives. Decision making processes revolved around several concerns arising from integrating oneself with his environment. As a result, all of the participants outlined several performance strategies to help resolve such concerns.

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Communication, Theater