LGBTQ: 20 Gay Actors Who Play Straight Characters

One of the best things about being an actor or public figure is you can play roles that are different from what you really are. Many gay actors are well-known for playing straight characters in film and on TV.

One gay actor, Neil Patrick Harris is renowned for playing the womanizing Barney Stinson on the sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother’. Harris came out in 2006, saying, “I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love.” Other openly gay actors who play straight roles include Jim Parsons, Ricky Martin, and Ellen Page.

This list features the top gay Hollywood celebrities, movie stars, public figures, male celebs, and actresses.

1. Luke Evans – Gaston

Image result for luke evans

The openly gay Welsh actor has played several straight roles. Most recently, Luke Evans starred as the narcissistic chauvinist Gaston in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast. Evans is also well known for his role as Owen Shaw in the Fast & Furious franchise where he played Michelle Rodriguez’s boyfriend.

Popular works: Dracula Untold, Fast & Furious 6, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Raven

2. Jim Parsons – Sheldon Cooper

Image result for jim parsons

Jim Parsons has played many socially awkward heterosexual roles, including Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory,” who has been in a relationship with Amy Farrah Fowler for a number of seasons. Cooper has been in a relationship with his partner, Todd Spiewak for more than 10 years.

Popular works: The Big Bang Theory, Home, Garden State, The Muppets

3. Neil Patrick Harris – Barney Stinson

Image result for neil patrick harris

Neil Patrick Harris is an openly gay actor who came out in 2006, saying, “I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love.” He and his husband, David Burtka, have a twin daughter and son.
From 2009-2014, Harris played notorious womanizer Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother.”

Popular Works: How I Met Your Mother, Starship Troopers, The Smurfs, The Muppets, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, + more

4. John Mahoney – Martin Crane

Image result for john mahoney

John Mahoney does not speak publicly about his personal life, but it is widely believed that the actor is gay. He has played several straight roles in his career, including the twice-married Martin Crane on “Frasier.”

Popular Works: The Iron Giant, Frasier, Say Anything…, Moonstruck, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and more

5. Jane Lynch – Paula

Image result for jane lynch

“Glee” actress Jane Lynch is openly gay and a big supporter of gay rights. She played one half of a hilarious lesbian couple in the comedy Best in Show, but she has played several straight characters, including helpfully horny Paula in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Lynch was married to Lara Embry from 2010 to 2014.

Popular Works: Glee, Wreck-It Ralph, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Role Models

6. Sara Gilbert – Darlene Conner

Image result for sara gilbert
Openly gay actress Sara Gilbert has played many straight roles, including Darlene Conner on “Roseanne.” By the end of that series, Darlene was married. She is currently engaged to 4 Non Blondes frontwoman and successful music producer Linda Perry.

Popular Works: The Talk, Roseanne, Poison Ivy, High Fidelity

7. Ricky Martin – Miguel Morez

Image result for Ricky Martin
Ricky Martin came out as gay in 2010. He wrote a statement on his website, saying, “These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within, and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed.” He has since become an outspoken advocate for gay rights and same-sex marriage. Martin played the straight character of Miguel Morez on “General Hospital.”

Popular Works: The Voice, Ricky Martin: One Night Only, An Audience with Ricky Martin, Hercules

8. David Hyde Pierce – Niles Crane

Image result for david hyde pierce

David Hyde Pierce played Niles Crane on “Frasier” from 1993-2004. By the end of the series, Dr. Crane was married with a son. Pierce publicly came out in 2007. He married Brian Hargrove, his partner of over 20 years, in 2008.

Popular Works: Frasier, A Bug’s Life, The Fisher King, Wet Hot American Summer

10. Sarah Paulson – Harriet Hayes

Image result for sarah paulson
Sarah Paulson played Harriet Hayes on “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” In one episode, Hayes identified as a Christian who believed that although the Bible recognized homosexuality as a sin, she also learned “judge not lest ye be judged.” Paulson announced that she was in a relationship with Cherry Jones in 2007. The couple split in 2009.

Popular Works: American Horror Story, Carol, Serenity, Mud

11. Ellen Page – Juno

Image result for ellen page

Ellen Page came out in 2014 at a youth even for the Human Rights Campaign. She has played several straight characters, including a pregnant teenager in the title role of the 2007 film Juno.

Popular Works: Inception, Juno, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hard Candy

12. Wentworth Miller – Michael Scofield

Image result for wentworth miller

Openly gay actor Wentworth Miller played the straight character Michael Scofield on the show “Prison Break.” Miller came out in 2013 by posting an open letter on the GLAAD website in which he declined to attend a Russian film festival because of their anti-gay laws.

Popular Works: Prison Break, Underworld, Resident Evil: Afterlife, The Loft

13. Cynthia Nixon – Miranda Hobbes

Image result for Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon is best known for playing Miranda Hobbes on “Sex and the City.” By the end of the series, Miranda had a son with Steve Brady, who she then married. Nixon married her partner, Christine Marinoni, in 2012.

Popular Works: Sex and the City, Sex and the City, Amadeus, Sex and the City 2

14. Alan Cumming – Joe Therrian

Image result for alan cummings

Alan Cumming has played several straight characters in his career, including Joe Therrian in The Anniversary Party. He married his partner, Grant Shaffer, in 2007, and the couple renewed their vows in 2012.

Popular Works: The Good Wife, X-Men 2, GoldenEye, Spy Kids

15. T. R. Knight – Dr. George O’Malley

Image result for t. r. knight

Openly gay actor T.R. Knight played the straight character Dr. George O’Malley on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Infamously, Knight’s “Grey’s” co-star Isaiah Washington was fired after he used a homophobic slur. Knight married his partner, Patrick Leahy, in 2013.

Popular Works: Grey’s Anatomy, 42, Charlie Lawrence, Last Request, Garmento, + more

16. Jodie Foster – Annabelle Bransford

Image result for jodie foster
Jodie Foster publicly came out in 2013 during her acceptance speech for the Golden Globes Cecil B. DeMille Award. She said, “I already did my coming out about 1,000 years ago back in the Stone Age, those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers, and then gradually and proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met.” Foster has played several straight characters, including Annabelle Bransford in Maverick.

Popular Works: The Silence of the Lambs, Elysium, Panic Room, Inside Man

17. Zachary Quinto – Dr. Oliver Thredson

Image result for Zachary Quinto

Zachary Quinto publicly came out in 2011. He supports several gay rights organizations. Quinto has played several straight characters, including Dr. Oliver Thredson on “American Horror Story: Asylum.”

Popular Works: Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Margin Call, Heroes

18. Richard Chamberlain – Dr. Kildare

Image result for richard chamberlain

Richard Chamberlain played several straight characters in his career, including teen idol Dr. Kildare on the 1960s show of the same name. He publicly came out in 2003, but he was first outed by the media in the late-1980s. Chamberlain was in a relationship with Martin Rabbett for more than 30 years, but the couple split up in 2010.

Popular Works: Dr. Kildare, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, The Last Wave, The Towering Inferno

19. Portia de Rossi – Lindsay Bluth Funke

Portia de Rossi married talk show host Ellen Degeneres in 2008. She has played several straight characters, including the promiscuous-though-married Lindsay Bluth Funke on “Arrested Development.”

Popular Works: Arrested Development, Ally McBeal, Cursed, Stigmata

20. Russell Tovey – George Sands

Gay Actors Who Play Straight Characters

Openly gay actor Russell Tovey is best known for playing straight werewolf George Sands on “Being Human.” The character has had several romantic relationships and was engaged to Julia Beckett at the start of the series. Tovey has stated that he had a very difficult time being accepted by his family after he came out.

Popular Works: Being Human, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, The History Boys, Little Dorrit, Looking, and more