The Sarsgaard scale

The Sarsgaard scale

Garrison Latimer

If more men, straight and gay, thought like Peter Sarsgaard, the world would be a much better place. Thank you for running the piece concerning the Kinsey costar [“Sex and the Kinsey Guy,” March 1]. He is such a fresh talent, and it’s wonderful to hear his support for the GLBT community. What is even greater is his ability to look past someone’s sexuality as a label and the limits that such definitions can create.

The collective “we” he refers to is something I feel is often overlooked by gays and lesbians. In fighting for acceptance and equality, it seems at times that we’ve segregated ourselves. Sarsgaard talks about a world where there aren’t “ideas about what it means to be straight and gay.” Hearing such a progressive thought from anyone, let alone a straight actor in Hollywood, is outstanding, and if more people believed the same thing, we might finally achieve the equal status we have been striving for.

Garrison Latimer, via the Internet

Great article on Peter Sarsgaard, but what’s with the Oscar bashing? You imply that the Academy declined to nominate Sarsgaard and Liam Neeson because of their romantic scene together, and then you repeat the accusation in the “Gay Guide to the Oscars.”

Need we remind you that William Hurt, Tom Hanks, and Hilary Swank have taken home Oscars for playing members of the GLBT community, and nominations have gone to James Coco, John Lithgow, Robert Preston, Cher, Tom Courtenay, Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Avery, Bruce Davison, Tommy Lee Jones, Jaye Davidson, Ian McKellen, Chloe Sevigny, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Kathy Bates, and (just last year) Djimon Hounsou for characters who either identified as GLBT or had key romantic scenes with same-sex partners similar to the one shared by Neeson and Sarsgaard.

There’s always room for more tolerance, but let’s not fudge or ignore the facts to make a point.

Darren Stuart, Cedar Grove, N.C.

When, oh, when, will theater audiences grow up and accept the malemale screen kiss? In the film Kinsey the scientist’s bisexual research worker, played by Peter Sarsgaard, seduces him, and we see the two men kiss. In Adam Vary’s article on the film, the film’s director reports that even at a Writers Guild screening of Kinsey the kiss brought forth groans from the audience.

Seems we have made little headway in this regard since 1971’s Sunday, Bloody Sunday, in which a bisexual male designer carries on simultaneous affairs with a woman and a gay doctor. Only the attitude of the actors playing gay or bisexual roles seems to have changed. Sarsgaard takes pride in his nude scene before Dr. Kinsey, and as for kissing another straight man, he says, “Kissing is kissing.” In contrast, Peter Finch (who played the gay doctor in Sunday Bloody Sunday), when asked how he felt about his on-screen kiss with Murray Head, is quoted as saying, “I closed my eyes and thought of God and England.”

Clay Lane, Palo Alto, Calif.

I’m disappointed to see the reemergence of cliched rhetoric about how wrong it is to have a clear and defined identity. Sarsgaard is entitled to his view, of course, and his sexy smile makes it a little more convincing than it would otherwise be. One of the people you interviewed, however, goes so far as to say that it is “unfortunate” that we see in the gay community an “insistence on defining” oneself. Ever since the 18th century it has been the ever-evolving purview of thinking human beings, gifted with the power of human reason, to define ourselves. It is the power that enables ethical choices by rendering us responsible for the identities we present to the world, saves us from the definitions others may wish to fix upon us, and allows us to contribute a meaningful perspective to the marketplace of ideas. Let us then celebrate rational self-definition rather than wallow in amorphous, chameleonlike rhetoric that keeps gays from being fully recognizable participants in culture.

Todd W. Nothstein, Philadelphia, Pa.

People read The Advocate because they want news that is free of misrepresentations and prejudices. After watching Kinsey and reading your cover article, I can count on Hollywood to be more respectful than your publication of bi/pansexuals.

We do not have “sexual fluidity,” “ambiguous sexual identity,” or “unsettled, changing sexuality.” Using such terms to describe a bisexual is like telling a gay person s/he is merely going through a phase. How ironic that you emphasize the line “There’s a lot of work to do” from the film.

Florence Tang, Tucker, Ga.

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