A lot of us like to think our gaydar is in never broken and perfectly in tact. But if, truth be told our gaydar is rooted mostly in stereotypes and too much one-sided media consumption. But that’s another story for another day. Thing is, there have been plenty of gay or bisexual actors and actresses who we’ve watched for years on big and small screens and audiences were never the wiser…of course until that person “came out” or in some cases was outted. Either way, get into this list of gay actors and actresses who play straight roles. There might be a few surprises. I know I found some people who literally blew my mind.
Cynthia Nixon- “Sex and the City”
Many of us watched “Sex and the City” religiously and had no idea that Cynthia Nixon, the woman who played “Miranda,” the smart and sometimes cynical attorney was bisexual. From 1988 to 2003, Nixon was with Danny Mozes, a man. The couple had two children together. After they divorced Nixon started dating education activist Christine Marioni. In 2007 Nixon said “I don’t really feel I’ve changed. I’d been with men all my life, and I’d never fallen in love with a woman. But when I did, it didn’t seem so strange. I’m just a woman in love with another woman.” She identified herself as bisexual in 2012 and caught some flack from the LGBTQ community when she said her sexuality was a choice. Personally, it was very clear that she was speaking for herself and not dismissing or denying the very real fact that some are born homosexual.
Guillermo Díaz- “Scandal”
Anytime I see Guillermo do an interview, I’m always so shocked to see how bubbly and vibrant he is. I’m just so used to seeing him dark and troubled as Huck on “Scandal.” For a long time I didn’t even see Huck as a person interested in sex. I mean, to have sex you have to form at least temporary connections with people and that didn’t appear to be Huck’s thang. But clearly times have changed. Now he’s libel to flip, smack, lick it and spit on it in a parking garage on top of a car. (Lol! I love it!) And while Huck’s sex scenes involve women, in real life that’s not his story. Díaz is openly gay now, though he’s said that growing up in Washington Heights, in Manhattan, it was essential that he keep his sexuality under wraps. In 2011, he told Out Magazine “That facade of being somebody I’m really not just to protect myself definitely helped with acting.”
Pretty profound huh?
Sara Gilbert – “Roseanne”
There was alway something different about Sara Gilbert and her portrayal of “Darlene” on “Roseanne” but I just assumed that “Darlene” the character was just different. I know plenty of off-beat women who some would consider gay, though they definitely are not. Anyway, it took Gilbert herself some time to realize quite what was going on with her sexuality. In real life she dated her on-screen boyfriend Johnny Galecki, who played David. But it was during that time that she realized she was a lesbian. She started dating TV producer Allison Adler in 2001. The couple went on to have two children, a son which Adler carried and a daughter Gilbert carried. Afterward Gilbert publicly came out as a lesbian to the surprise of virtually no one in 2010. The next year she and Adler split. Gilbert began a relationship with Linda Perry, a singer/songwriter and the couple married in March of this year.
Nell Carter- “Gimme A Break” & Ain’t Misbehavin
Though most people know Nell Carter from her work on the sitcom “Gimme A Break,” I first became familiar with her when she played in the Tony Award winning musical and later Emmy Award winning television special Ain’t Misbehavin’. If you haven’t seen it, there are quite a few scenes, where Nell’s character is hot in the pants, for her male co-stars. Nell Carter had an unbelievably challenging life, complete with sexual abuse, close family deaths, mental illness, several miscarriages and drug addiction. And in the middle of all that Carter managed to marry two men. But in the end she lived with and loved a woman named Ann Kaser who was with her when she died in 2003.
Jodie Foster- Pretty much everything…
Jodie Foster has played hetereosexual in all of her movies I’ve seen. And I imagine it must be very difficult not only growing up, almost entirely in the public eye, but also navigating her own sexuality during that time and grappling with whether to express it or not, publicly. Rough stuff. Though Foster has been living her life on her own, she dated female movie producer Cydney Bernard from 1993- 2008, it wasn’t until her acceptance speech at the 2013 Golden Globes that Foster basically “came out.” And just last month she married actress and photographer Alexandra Hedison.
Victor Garber- Pretty much everything
You’ve seen Victor Garber around haven’t you, though if you’re like me, you might not be able to place him. Garber was in a few movies that I love including Titanic, First Wives Club (He was Goldie Hawn’s ex husband.) Sleepless in Seattle and Legally Blonde. You may remember in Legally Blonde he tried to inappropriately push up on Elle as her law professor. But it’s all for play play. In real life, Garber is pretty private about his personal life but said, referring to his homosexuality, “I don’t really talk about it but everybody knows.” He currently lives with his partner Rainer Andreesen, of almost 13 years.
Raven Symoné – “That’s So Raven”
Raven Symone’s “coming out” came as a surprise to me, mostly because we know so very little about her personal life that I never really thought about her dating anyone, forget about gender. I’m sure she preferred it that way. And though her role in the popular Disney series ‘That’s So Raven” allowed her to have a few crushes and go on a few dates, they never delved too much into the romantic stuff. But her love interests were always of the opposite sex. We wouldn’t expect anything else from Disney though. Rumors started to swirl about her sexual orientation in 2012 and she addressed them vaguely saying “My sexual orientation is mine, and the person I’m dating’s to know. I’m not one for a public display of my life.” But the very next year when same-sex marriage was legalized in California, she said, ““I was excited to hear today that more states legalized gay marriage. I, however am not currently getting married, but it is great to know I can now, should I wish to.” That’s pretty clear, right?
Jonathan Bennett- Mean Girls
Considering the fact that we just celebrated the tenth anniversary of Mean Girls, it was only fitting that I include cutie pie Aaron Samuels. I could so see why Cady was into him. But fiction is fiction ladies. In real life, Jonathan Bennett wouldn’t have been interested in Cady Heron or Regina George because he’s gay. In fact when you type his name in a Google search, the next word that comes up is “boyfriend.” Sorry ladies. Personally, I’m not mad, I’ll still watch his performance in Mean Girls with the same fervor. Dude is fine, even if he’s not checking for my type.
Sarah Paulson- 12 Years A Slave
Paulson, who played the loathsome Mary Epps in 12 Years A Slave, had a pretty public relationship with Cherry Jones. In 2007, the couple declared their love for one another during an LGBT event in New York. But they broke up two years later. Paulson later said, in a 2013 interview with BroadwayWorld.com, that though she only dated men before she met Jones, and hadn’t been in a relationship since, she was open to both men and women going forward.
Similar to Nell Carter, Josephine Baker had a pretty rough start in life. By the time she was thirteen, she’d dropped out of school and was living on the streets of St. Louis. She also got married that year, the first of her three marriages to men. But in addition, it’s well known and highly documented that she carried on numerous affairs with women when she was both married and single. Her son Jean-Claude Baker, co-author of her biography Josephine: The Hungry Heart spoke about them, including her relationship with Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Jean-Claude Baker interviewed over 2,000 people for the book and the affairs came up often. He said,
“She was what today you would call bisexual, and I will tell you why. Forget that I am her son, I am also a historian. You have to put her back into the context of the time in which she lived. In those days, Chorus Girls were abused by the white or black producers and by the leading men if he liked girls. But they could not sleep together because there were not enough hotels to accommodate black people. So they would all stay together, and the girls would develop lady lover friendships, do you understand my English? But wait wait…If one of the girls by preference was gay, she’d be called a bull dyke by the whole cast. So you see, discrimination is everywhere.”
David Hyde Pierce- “Fraiser”
Any “Fraiser” fans in the house? I’ve been rewatching the show for the past couple of days and I must say, it’s hilarious! If you know the show, you know Davide Hyde Pierce for his work as Fraiser’s pretentious and elitist brother Niles. Honestly, I have to admit that I got a bit of a gay vibe from him but I always thought Niles was just generally feminine. Turns out I was right. David Hyde Pierce, who was nominated for eleven Emmys and won for his role as Niles, is indeed gay. After years of speculation, Pierce had his publicist tell anyone who was listening that he and television writer, director and producer Brian Hargrove, known for “The Secret World Of Alex Mack,” “Caroline in the City” and “Titus,” were together. Hargrove and Pierce were married in 2008, prior to the passage of California’s Prop 8, which was later deemed unconstitutional.
As you may have imagined it was not easy for women or really anybody to be engaged in same sex relationships. In fact, it was punishable by arrest. But like Josephine Baker’s son suggested, the arts provided a bit of a haven for women who were gay or bisexual. Ethel Waters was one of these people. While she was a blues singer, she had a relationship with dancer Ethel Williams. They were nicknamed ‘The Two Ethels” and went on to live together. But they went to great lengths to conceal the true nature of their relationship and even omitted Ms. Williams from biographies written about her.
Ellen Page- Juno
I love the movie Juno it was so hilarious to me, like Superbad for girls. And while Ellen Page was giving me a major “Darlene” from “Roseanne” vibe, again I chalked it up to the character. But earlier this year, Page came out as a lesbian during her speech at the Human Right’s Campaign “Time To Thrive” conference.
It feels like it’s been forever since Wanda Sykes came out doesn’t it? But before that, Sykes was married to record producer David Hall, the man behind Mary J’s “You Remind Me” and Mariah Carey’s “Dreamlover,” from 1991-1998. Ten years later, she publicly came out at a same-sex marriage rally in Las Vegas. Just a month before that she’d married her current wife Alex Niedbalskil. The couple have two children together.
I just so happened to catch a recent episode of “Talk Stoop” in which Alan Cumming was featured. Though Cumming said that he had known for some time that he was attracted to men, he still married Hilary Lyon, a classmate of his at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. The couple divorced after eight years and no children. But Cumming said he was in love with and sexually attracted to his wife. Since his marriage to Grant Shaffer, Cumming has said that he identifies as bisexual and has a healthy sexual appetite and imagination and being married to a man doesn’t mean he’s stopped finding the female form appealing. He said he often feels like bisexuals get a bad rep.
This one completely went over my head but back in 2009 in an interview with Barbara Walters, Lady Gaga spoke openly about sexuality. And then when she spoke with Andy Cohen she said she’s taken “a few dips in the lady pond.” In fact, her song “Poker Face” is about her bisexuality.
Any “True Blood” fans in the house? Well the star of the show, who is married to her co-star Stephen Moyer, has been very open about her sexuality. She told Zooey Magazine “For me it’s not really an issue because I’m someone who believes being bisexual is actually a thing. When folks criticized her for playing into some kind of gimmick, she said “It’s not being greedy or numerous other ignorant things I’ve heard at this point. For a bisexual, it’s not about gender. That’s not the deciding factor for who they’re attracted to.”
Andy is another celeb who shuns the notion that bisexual means gay. In 2006, he told the Washington Post “just because I’ve been with guys, and I’m bi doesn’t mean I’m gay.”
This one isn’t all that surprising is it. Anything went in “The Jersey Shore” house. In an interview with The Huffington Post Snooki said she’s been with women before. “I would consider myself bi. I’ve done stuff with girls before. But I would never be with a girl because I like…penis. But I’ve experimented.”
Drew Barrymore has admittedly toned it down from her young and wild days but back in 2003, in an interview with Contact Magazine she said “Do I like women sexually? Yeah, I do. Totally. I have always considered myself bisexual… I love a woman’s body. I think a woman and a woman together are beautiful, just as a man and a woman together are beautiful. Being with a woman is like exploring your own body, but through someone else.”
Bet you weren’t expecting to see her on this list, now were you? Clearly, we know that Mel B is married and has been linked to several men, including Eddie Murphy. But homegirl is at least bisexual, though she might not want to label herself as such. In 2004, Mel B was photographed kissing a woman. So, it could have been a good friend right? Wrong. That woman was Christine Crokos and Mel B said she was in a relationship with her for several years. She said in an interview, “People call me lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual, but I know who’s in my bed and that’s it…I have a huge libido and a great sex life.” When Stern asked her about her relationship with another woman, Christa Parker, who she was allegedly seeing at the same time she was dating Christine, Mel confirmed that they were very much in love with one another. There was also another woman, who you can read about in the link above, Elizabeth Rodriguez, who talked about her threesomes with Mel and Christa. (I know it’s a lot of names to keep up with.) Either way, Mel went on to say that she was just going through a “bisexual phase” and it only lasted a year and she’s since trained her husband to act like a lesbian in the bedroom. Mel even said that she’s kissed all the Spice Girls at one point or another when she was trying out her new tongue ring back in the day.
Mel, if you were in love with a woman, who you may or may not have been seeing for several years, and were kissing your female bandmates way back during the Spice Girl days, I highly doubt it was a phase. You’re pretty much bisexual. You just happen to be with a man now. Call it what you want.