This list of gay actors who play straight characters is loosely ranked by fame and popularity. One of the great things about being an actor or public figure is you can play characters that are different from yourself. Several gay actors are famous for playing straight characters in film and on television. One gay actor is best known for playing a womanizing lawyer on a sitcom.
Who is the most famous gay actor who has played straight characters? Rosie O’Donnell tops our list. The A League of Their Own star publicly came out in 2002. She has since been a fierce advocate for gay rights, same-sex marriage, and gay adoption rights. She has played several straight characters including Betty Rubble in The Flintstones. Portia de Rossi married talk show host Ellen DeGeneres in 2008. She has played several straight characters including Lindsay Bluth Funke on Arrested Development.
Neil Patrick Harris plays the womanizing Barney Stinson on 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 characters include Jim Parsons, Ricky Martin, and Ellen Page. Featuring Hollywood celebrities, movie stars, public figures, male celebs, and actresses, this list has them all.
Actor Neil Patrick Harris is openly gay. He 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.”
John Mahoney does not speak publicly about his personal life, but it is widely believed that the actor is gay. He has played many straight characters in his career, including the twice-married Martin Crane on “Frasier.”
“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.
The openly gay Welsh actor has played many straight characters. 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.
Jim Parsons has played several socially awkward heterosexual characters throughout his entire career, including Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory,” who has been in a relationship with Amy Farrah Fowler for several of the show’s seasons.
Cooper has been in a relationship with his partner, Todd Spiewak for over 10 years.
Openly gay actress Sara Gilbert has played several straight characters, 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Though he never came out during his lifetime, Rock Hudson was widely known as a homosexual throughout his career. Many in the gay community related to Hudson’s struggles both publicly and privately, and he was the first major star to die of complications from AIDS.
Still, Hudson played many straight characters throughout his career, often alongside Doris Day, including Brad Allen in Pillow Talk, Jerry Webster in Lover Come Back, and George in Send Me No Flowers.
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.
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.”
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.
Meredith Baxter came out in an interview on the “Today Show” in 2009. She is best known for playing married mother of three Elyse Keaton on the family comedy “Family Ties.” Baxter married her partner, Nancy Locke, in 2013.
Lily Tomlin has played several straight characters throughout her career, including Vivian Jaffe in I Heart Huckabees. Tomlin married her longtime partner Jane Wagner in 2013.
Actor Matt Bomer publicly acknowledged that he was gay in 2012, and he has three sons with his partner, Simon Halls. Bomer has played several straight characters including Neal Caffrey on “White Collar.”
Jonathan Groff is best known for playing the role of the “Glee” character Jesse St. James, who dated Rachel Berry. Groff publicly came out in 2009 and was briefly involved with actor Zachary Quinto.
Wanda Sykes has played many straight characters throughout her career, including Biggie Shorty in “Pootie Tang.” She publicly came out in 2008, after she married her wife, Alex.
Guillermo Diaz has played several straight characters, including Guillermo Garcia Gomez on “Weeds.” Gomez is openly gay, but he says that hiding his sexuality in his youth actually helped him to become a better actor.
Robert Reed is best known for playing Mike Brady on “The Brady Bunch.” Reed was gay, and although most people in his life knew it, he chose not to discuss his sexuality. He died of colon cancer in 1992. He was also HIV positive.
Actor & TV personality Rosie O’Donnell publicly came out in 2002. She has since been a fierce advocate for gay rights, same-sex marriage, and gay adoption rights. O’Donnell married her wife, Michelle Rounds, in 2012.
She has played several straight characters, including Betty Rubble, wife of Barney, in The Flintstonesand Doris in A League of Their Own.