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Playing Gays

Re Ray Loynd’s Nov. 28 article on the play “The Lisbon Traviata”:

Why does it always seem necessary when interviewing heterosexual actors playing gay roles to mention the healthy status of their family lives, as if playing a gay character negatively stigmatizes the actor?

And why do participants in gay-themed plays, movies or television shows invariably insist on downplaying that aspect of the production. Here, (the wonderful) Nathan Lane is quoted saying “the play is not a treatise about gays . . . it’s about anybody living in these times.”

The writer of the article exacerbates the problem when he writes that “Lisbon Traviata” is “not a gay play.”

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Well, I just saw the play, and I have news. “Lisbon Traviata” is very much a gay play, politically problematic, but nonetheless gay. It’s about gay people leading gay lives in a world where the legitimacy of our lives is constantly called into question. It’s a play that very boldly foregrounds gay sexuality, and this in an increasingly intolerant era. And for these reasons, no denial nor apologies are needed.

BEN VANAMAN

Los Angeles


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