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10 gay actors who played straight roles

Tijen Butler February 15, 2019
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Zac Efron portrayed Ted Bundy in new film.

Zac Efron portrayed Ted Bundy in new film. (Florida Archives / Netflix)

Straight people play gay characters all the time but how often does a LGBT+ person play a straight character? We look at 10 of our favourite gay actors who played straight roles for TV and movies.

At the 76th Golden Globe Awards in January, actor Ben Whishaw said: “I would like to see more gay actors playing straight roles. It needs to be an even playing field for everybody that would be my ideal.”

Much like Whishaw, we would love to see more of this. However, there is still thankfully a number of LGBT+ actors who take on straight roles.

Read on as we list 10 actors, who you may not have known were gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Wentworth Miller (Michael Scofield in Prison Break)

Wentworth Miller
Openly gay actor Wentworth Miller as Michael Scofield.

You probably know openly gay actor Miller from his straight character Michael Scofield in Prison Break.

The series first aired in 2005, and he came out as gay eight years later in a letter declining an invite to a Russian film festival due to the country’s anti-gay laws.

The boxset is available to stream on Disney+ from 23 February, or you can purchase it digitally or the DVDs from Amazon here.

Jonathan Bennett (Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls)

Jonathan Bennett
“It’s October 3rd.”

Bennett, who played the dreamy teen Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls, publicly came out on Instagram in 2017, sharing a picture with the man he loved.

Fans can stream the film on Netflix from 2 February.

Jodie Foster (Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs)

Jodie Foster
Gay actress Jodie Foster (Getty)

Foster is famously known for many straight roles such as Agent Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs and Sarah Tobias in The Accused.

The actress came out in 2013 when she accepted the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award.

Zachary Quinto (Sylar in Heroes)

Zachary Quinto
Zachary Quinto (Getty)

Zachary Quinto, who has played several characters from Sylar in Heroes to Dr. Oliver Thredson in American Horror Story: Asylumcame out in 2011 and has played several straight characters.

The boxset is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

T.R. Knight (Dr. George O’Malley in Grey’s Anatomy)

T.R Knight, Grey's Anatomy, George O Malley

Openly gay actor T.R. Knight is best known for his straight role of Dr. George O’Malley on Grey’s Anatomy in which he had several love affairs with women.

Knight has been married to his same-sex partner, Patrick Leahy, since 2013.

The boxset is available to stream on Disney+ from 23 February, or you can watch is as part of an Amazon Prime Video membership for £7.99 per month.

Cynthia Nixon (Miranda Hobbes in Sex and the City)

Sex and the city girls, cynthia nixon
(L-R) Actresses Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty)

You will best know Nixon from her loveable character of Miranda on Sex and the City. There, each episode shows the lawyer’s string of relationships with different men.

But in reality, Nixon has been married to her partner, Christine Marinoni, since 2012.

Sex and the City is available to stream with a NowTV Entertainment pass, while the two films are available on Amazon Prime Video.

Russell Tovey (George Sands in Being Human)

Russell Tovey
Russell Tovey attends the 70th EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) at Royal Albert Hall on February 12, 2017 in London, England. (John Phillips/Getty)

Openly gay actor Russell Tovey is best known for playing George Sands, a straight werewolf, on Being Human. 

He is also known for his lazy character on British sitcom Him & Her, a show about a straight couple.

Neil Patrick Harris (Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother)

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13: Actor Neil Patrick Harris attends the Build series to discuss the Netflix drama 'Lemony Snicket's a Series Of Unfortunate Events' at Build Studio on January 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Best known for his womanising role of Barney Stinson on American sitcom How I Met Your Mother, Harris is gay in real life.

He has been married since 2014 and has two children.

The boxset is available to stream on Disney+ from 23 February, or you can purchase it digitally or the DVDs from Amazon here.

John Barrowman (Desperate Housewives, Arrow and more)

John Barrowman with his husband, Scott Gill, at Buckingham Palace
John Barrowman and husband Scott Gill (Anthony Devlin/Getty)

Barrowman is an openly gay actor who is married to husband Scott Gill.

He has played several straight roles and is most famously known for Desperate Housewives and Arrow

Barrowman came third in the UK hit series I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!.

The Desperate Housewives boxset is available to stream on Disney+ from 23 February, or you can watch is as part of an Amazon Prime Video membership for £7.99 per month.

Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory)

"The Locomotion Reverberation"-- Pictured: Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons). Leonard and Wolowitz try to distract Sheldon when he slows the progress of their guidance system. Also, Penny and Amy take Bernadette out for the night, leaving Raj and Stuart to care for baby Halley, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Feb. 9 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. Dean Norris returns as Colonel Williams.
The show is reportedly ending because Parsons was ready to walk away. (CBS)

Parsons played the awkward and straight role of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, which fans can stream on Netflix.

He married producer Todd Spiewak in 2017.

It’s said he is now producing a new gay TV series.

Of course, there are dozens more excellent gay actors to name but they are our top ten.

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