'Love, Victor' Star: Straight Actors Playing Gay Roles is OK With Research

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday March 16, 2021
Originally published on March 9, 2021

Should straight actors play gay roles? "Love, Victor" star Michael Cimino says yes — but only if the actor puts in some leg work.

Cimino told Pink News, "I don't think anyone should play any role that does not honor the situation and the severity of the situation honestly and authentically.

"Actors that just do jobs as a cash grab — especially something as important as this show — you can't do that. And this show has such an important message. I promise, I work as hard as I possibly can to honor the struggle, honor the situation that everyone [who is part] of the LGBT+ community goes through," he went on to say. "With that being said, I think that as long as people honor the situation honestly and truly and work as hard as they possibly can to represent the people on screen, I think that's different."

Cimino, who identifies as straight and plays the series' namesake gay character, is aware that the question of straight actors playing gay roles is a hot button issue. He admits that as a straight cisgender man, he doesn't experience the world the way a gay man would. So the only way he could have played Victor was to do his research. Cimino, 21, spoke at length with his gay cousin in order to gain some understanding.

"We just talked about what happened to him and his experience, and what he had to go through to become the person that he is today," Cimino said. "And obviously, it hit kind of close to home because it's literally my family member... it just showed me, not only how far my family has come, but also how far we need to go as a community and as a society to be accepting of everyone and who they are as people."

The actor adds that aside from hoping he's doing justice to the role of Victor, he ultimately hopes that LGBTQ people watching the show at home feel seen, saying, "You're not alone. You will find your chosen family and hopefully you realize that no matter what you're going through, it's not worth hiding who you are.

"You should be authentic to who you are as a person, and everyone should be allowed to be who they are authentically without being scared of the world shaming them, or of losing their family," he added.

Cimino also reminds parents, "Your children did not choose to be this way, this is something that they were born being, and you should accept them for who they are."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.