Lee Pace responded to the backlash over his sexuality. Was he in the wrong?

Actor Lee Pace just reignited a dormant debate in Hollywood.

Should LGBTQ celebrities feel a responsibility to live out and proud? Or should they have the same right to privacy when it comes to their sexuality and identity as anyone else?  

The actor (known for "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "The Hobbit") once played a gay character on Broadway in "The Normal Heart," a story reflecting the pain and injustice of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.


He recently spoke with W magazine about his return to the stage in the revival of "Angels in America."

Pace said he thought it was important for LGBTQ actors to play LGBTQ characters — yet called interview questions about his sexuality "intrusive."

In the Feb. 28 article, Pace seems to fire back at the interviewer, Brian Moylan, who wrote:

"[Pace] seemed a bit flustered and surprised by the question. 'I've dated men. I've dated women,' he explained. 'I don't know why anyone would care. I'm an actor and I play roles. To be honest, I don't know what to say — I find your question intrusive.'"

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

Pace's response both raised eyebrows and rallied defenders.

To many, it felt hypocritical for Pace to note the importance of LGBTQ actors playing LGBTQ roles only to take offense to a journalist asking about his sexuality.

On the other hand, anyone — famous or not — is entitled to keep their sexuality private, Pace's defenders argued.  

Pace's remarks added to an ongoing and often knotty debate over actors' sexual orientations and their right to privacy.

It's tempting to brush aside the issue and argue that the best actor should always get the role, regardless of sexual orientation. But that attitude ignores widespread problems that systematically diminish the value of LGBTQ actors.

In an entertainment industry oversaturated with straight (and white) roles, it's still relatively uncommon that queer characters take center stage. When those characters do appear, Hollywood tends to give those parts to straight, cisgender actors — and then reward them mightily come award-show season.

On the flip side, actors are often penalized when they come out as LGBTQ because their casting potential seems to weaken to many executives who are hesitant to place a "riskier" bet on their hire. The industry has evolved immensely for the better since Ellen DeGeneres famously lost her sitcom — and, at the time, her entire career — after coming out as a lesbian in 1997. But anti-LGBTQ discrimination is still pervasive.

While the new film "Call Me By Your Name" has been celebrated by critics and LGBTQ fans alike, many also panned its casting of two straight men in the lead queer roles while gay and bisexual actors struggle to find work.

Stars of "Call Me By Your Name" Timothée Chalamet (left) and Armie Hammer (right) both identity as straight men. Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

In lieu of the backlash to his remarks, Pace took to Twitter to clarify how he feels on the issue.

"My privacy is important to me, so I protect it," he wrote. "When interviewed by the media, I keep the focus on my work."

But Pace does, however, understand the value in living openly and honestly as a queer man in the spotlight, he wrote.

Pace's remarks fell perfectly into the crosshairs of this thorny debate.

His hesitation to discuss his sexuality openly — whether it be because he's simply a private person or he fears his queerness could hurt his career (or both) — is understandable. But his call to cast openly LGBTQ actors in LGBTQ roles also recognizes the importance of representation in our media and why it's so critical ample opportunities be provided to queer entertainers.

Pace has been — and will continue to be — part of the solution.

"It's been important to me to portray queer characters with dignity for my entire career," he said. "Onward, with pride."

This article originally appeared on 3.18.20


"Generation X" got its name in the early '90s from an article turned book by Canadian writer Douglas Coupland. And ever since, they've been fighting or embracing labels like "slacker" and "cynic." That is, until Millennials came of age and all that "you kids today" energy from older generations started to get heaped on them. Slowly, Gen X found they were no longer being called slackers... they weren't even being mentioned at all. And that suits them just fine.

Here are 17 memes that will resonate with just about anyone born between 1965 and 1980.

Gen X basically invented "Whatever."

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Until recently, Generation X has been sitting back and watching as Millennials and Boomers eat each other with an amused, non-confrontational attitude. But recently, Millennials and Gen Z became aware of their presence, and dubbed them "The Karen generation."


They seem to be embracing the Karen thing.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

While I"m pretty sure the "Karen" thing is not complimentary — as BuzzFeed puts it, it's meant to communicate someone who is "the middle-aged white mom who is always asking for the manager and wondering why kids are so obsessed with their identities," lots of people landed on a different Karen to represent the generation: the martini-guzzling, wise-cracking Karen Walker.


Get it right!

gen n memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Well [expletive] me gently with a chainsaw, she's right. The 1980s cult classic starring Winona Ryder and Shannen Doherty really is the Mean Girls of the '80s and a much better term than Karen


The disdain is mutual...

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Most of my Gen X friends have Gen Z kids and they are intergenerationally very chill with each other. However, Gen X is the generation most likely to have Boomer parents and younger millennial kids, and this meme seems to be resonating a bunch with Xers of a certain age.


A lot of Xers are enjoying the "OK boomer" squabble.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITER

The media tends to ignore Generation X as a whole — as a few tweets coming up demonstrate — and this pleases Gen X just fine. After all, they're used to it. They were latchkey kids whose parents both worked long hours, so they're used to being somewhat neglected.


A whole mood.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Gen X: "Look, don't pull us into this. You'll make me spill my beer."


Gen X: Get used to it.

gen x memes

Perhaps Gen X's blasé attitude to the generation wars has something to do with being called "Slackers" for a full decade.


Pass the popcorn.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Aside from this whole "Karen generation" blip, Gen X continues to be largely overlooked, and that fact — as well as their silent delight in it — is possibly one of the most Generation X things to happen to the class of 1965 to 1980.


Pay no attention to the man behind the venetian blinds.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITER

Back in the '90s, Gen X bore the same kind of criticism Boomers tend to heap on Millennials and Gen Z now. It's not necessarily that they want to watch a cage match. It's just they're so relieved it's someone else being called slackers and downers for a change.


See?

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Although this chart doesn't list the generation names, the approximate age ranges are all there... except for a big gap between the ages of 34 and 54 where apparently no humans were born? Poor Gen X (and some elder Millennials) apparently don't have political beliefs worth examining.


Don't you forget about me...

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

If Millennials are the "burnout generation," I guess Gen X is truly the invisible generation. I'm starting to feel inspired to write a science fiction novel where everyone born from 1966 to 1980 inhabits a totally different dimension.


There are perks to being invisible...

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Being overlooked can be an advantage when you just want to sit in the corner and be immature. Gen X spent all of the 90s being told they were immature slackers, and in their 40s, a lot of them are really leaning into that description, because what does it matter?


"No one cares what we think anyway..."

This GIF of Janeane Garofolo mocking her classmates at the high school reunion is basically a whole Gen X mood and definitely captures how a lot of this generation caught in the middle feels about the "OK boomer" wars.


Party on.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Before Brené Brown was telling us all how to dare greatly, Gen X got their inspirational advice from a different kind of TED and his pal Bill, who taught us all how important it is to learn from history and be excellent to each other.


Too late and yet too early.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITER

Romance — or getting lucky — was never easy for Generation X. They were the generation most impacted by the AIDS epidemic when it comes to anxiety about casual sex. Whereas Boomers had the free love of the late '60s, Gen X was about safe sex, which usually meant less sex. And even when having safe casual sex, singles in the '90s had to meet people the old-fashioned way or, if they did meet online, they felt shame over it. Now online dating is the norm.


When Gen X replaces the Boomers.

gen x memes

This is probably an optimistic view — because the truth is there are "Boomers" in every generation, and many of them tend to find their way into powerful positions. Let's call this a best case scenario, though.


The Nihilism Generation

gen x memes

There is no generation more over it than Gen X. They are ready for the apocalypse, but don't expect them to, like, help or anything!