10 straight actors who have played multiple gay roles

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Amazon MGM Studios/The Weinstein Company/Netflix

Last year was an amazing one for queer actors writing, producing, and starring in queer roles! And while we love to see our queer faves getting some action, we also love a verse king or queen who may identify as straight, but plays one heck of a queer character! Of course there’s the controversy of straight actors being called “brave” for playing queer roles or getting accolades when it was so hard for queer actors to get the same recognition. But out of that reckoning finally came multiple roles for queer actors that not only broke barriers, but painted them with glitter!

However we can’t forget the actors who have gladly forged or taken queer roles in a landscape where having a queer character was unusual or rare. Whether it’s sassy or serious, these actors have redefined what it means to bring authenticity and variety to the acting experience. We wanted to especially highlight actors who have played not or town, but multiple gay roles - the true allies! It’s also important to note that there aren’t a lot of younger people on this list because many of them have already come out. Actors like Riverdale’s Vanessa Morgan, Bella Ramsey, and Noah Schnapp.

This list of 10 heterosexual heavy hitters have brought us some of the best heartwarming or bone-chilling queer moments in film and television.

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett

Focus Features

Projects: Carol, Tar, Notes on a Scandal, I’m Not There, The Aviator

I’m sure in some circles Cate Blanchett has been made an honorary lesbian, and we love her for it. She’s championed lesbian roles and stories during times when actual lesbians could hardly get roles and it rarely mattered because their stories weren’t being told anyway. Blanchett always brings grace and authenticity through her actual love for women, even if it’s not romantic.

Ewan McGregor

Netflix

Projects: Halston, Velvet Goldmine, I Love You Phillip Morris, Birds of Prey (coded)

Whether it’s bringing homosexual terror to Jonathan Rhys Meyers or surviving the clink with Jim Carrey, McGregor knows how to pick queer roles that are quirky, lasting, and fun. As Curt Wild in Todd Haynes’s Velvet Goldmine, McGregor plays a coked-up Billy Idol type who can’t understand why life is so slow. In I Love You Phillip Morris he’s a lovelorn Southern Belle. And in Halston, he plays the titular iconic fashion designer Roy Halston. His dedication and care shine through every performance and it’s a joy watching him work and play.

Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore

Paramount Pictures

Projects: The Kids Are Alright, Freeheld, Maps to the Stars, Chloe, The Personal Lives of Pippa Lee, The Hours, Psycho

Another iconic actress who’s no stranger to lady loving, Julianne Moore has played several lesbian roles and never shied away from a difficult personality or a character whose morals are less than solid. She also has a long standing director/muse relationship with queer director Todd Haynes and she’s an enormous ally for LGBTQ+ causes on and off screen.

Colin Firth

Colin Firth
Colin Firth

StudioCanal

Projects: A Single Man, Supernova, Mamma Mia

Colin Firth represents a man of an era where men had their secrets and they were not to be questioned, only shamed when their dalliances hit the light of day. Firth brings the exact desperation needed in roles like A Single Man, perfectly garnished in Tom Ford and an all-too telling 500 yard stare. From that he can play that hopeful Harry Bright in Mamma Mia! and then the somber and grieving Sam in the beautifully-crafted Supernova, alongside another queer character portraying icon, Stanley Tucci. The man knows variety and knows how to support a role without overtaking it.

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron

Netflix

Projects: Atomic Blonde, Tully, Monster, Head in the Clouds, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Old Guard, (Furiosa?)

This South African blonde baddie has never missed a chance to portray empowered women on screen. From possibly misunderstood serial killers to bounty rebels to war era painters, Theron’s love for women and allyship for the LGBTQ+ community can be seen in her commitment to every role. She doesn’t feel the need to be loud about it either. There are other roles that could be added to this list, like Cipher in The Fast and the Furious saga, but the beauty is that it doesn’t need to be stated for the intention to ring.

Gael Garcia Bernal

Gael Garcia Bernal
Gael Garcia Bernal

Amazon MGM Studios

Projects: Bad Education, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Cassandro

Gael Garcia Bernal is an actor’s actor. In Y Tu Mama Tambien, any timidness you saw in his shared kiss with Diego Luna was clearly written in the script. Garcia Bernal just innately understands the raw passion and bombasticity needed to land a baddie like Bhad Bunny while having Raul Castillo on the sidelines in Cassandro. He understands beauty is skin deep, but fabulous is to the bone in Bad Education. He’s a student of life and has innumerable lessons to teach his peers. Especially other actors of color who are cast in queer roles.

Rachel Weisz

Rachel Weisz
Rachel Weisz

Bleecker Street

Projects: Disobedience, The Favourite, Dead Ringers

Rachel Weisz has always wanted to be a lesbian icon and her nothing less than legendary roles go a long way to seal the deal. After all, she’s accomplished a lot of lesbian bucket list items in a short time! Topping the queen of England? Check. Spitting in Rachel McAdams’s mouth? Check. Possibly pinch hitting for her twin sister’s intimate encounter with her new girlfriend? Check! The absolute joy and bravado that explodes on screen whenever Weisz is engaging in lady loving is a treat for the WLW’s and an example to other straight actors on how it should be done!

Sterling K. Brown

Sterling K. Brown
Sterling K. Brown

Amazon MGM Studios

Projects: The Normal Heart, Biosphere, American Fiction, Honk for Jesus Save Your Soul

A recent addition, Brown hasn’t let the boundaries of his upbringing or past stop him from breaking stereotypes and redefining love. Growing up in a homophobic household is something that many Black people go through despite having members who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Brown wanted to respectfully take queer roles in a recognition of a shared struggle between the two very intersectional identities. As Frank in Biosphere, he plays the part of a man dealing with homophobia so ingrained that he doesn’t fully realize it’s hurting him until the need for it is gone. As Lee Curtis in Honk For Jesus Save Your Soul, he’s a closeted man of God who seems happier with the fame and attention that being true to himself. Brown is truly a talent whose versatility is a gift to any demographic.

Natasha Lyonne

Natasha Lyonne
Natasha Lyonne

Lionsgate

Projects: But I’m a Cheerleader, Addicted to Fresno, Orange Is the New Black

Natasha Lyonne was the sexual awakening for many lesbians of the late ‘90s - today. She’s a brassy broad with a potty mouth, a smoker’s voice, and the wisdom of a 65 year old — and she is absolutely unique and divine. But I’m a Cheerleader is a cult classic that may be a bit outdated, but lives forever in our hearts. Seeing her evolution from innocent neophyte to rambunctious and felonious in Orange Is the New Black just showed our little lady’s all grown up! Lyonne proudly carries big bi energy wherever she goes and continues to delight in front of and behind the camera.

Alfonso “Poncho” Herrera

Alfonso \u201cPoncho\u201d Herrera
Alfonso \u201cPoncho\u201d Herrera

Fox

Projects: Sense 8, The Exorcist, Dance of the 41

Alfonso Herrera is a Mexican actor who has graced our screen as Hernando, Lito’s long-suffering love on Sense 8, and as the other hot priest on Fox’s The Exorcist. Both shows were plagued by early cancellation despite their popularity. Herrera saw real fame for his role as Ignacio de la Torre y Mier in Dance of the 41, the heartbreaking dramatization of the real-life event in 1901 Mexico. Herrera always brings a comfort and ease to his roles that showcase just how much he cares for the material.