Former Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield is in hot water with social justice warriors after he claimed to be living as a gay man—just without the sex—to prepare for an upcoming theater role.
Garfield is currently starring in a West End production Angels in America, a play about the AIDS epidemic that swept through the gay community in New York in the 1980s. But Garfield identifies as straight, and struggled with how to handle a role that put him in the shoes of an openly gay man.
To prepare, he says, he simply tried his best to live as if he were gay, except he didn’t have sex with other men or, really, immerse himself completely in the gay lifestyle or in gay culture. Mostly, he just watched Ru Paul’s Drag Race and called it a day.
“My only time off during rehearsals—every Sunday—I would have eight friends over and we would just watch Ru,” Garfield said. “This is my life outside of this play. I am a gay man right now just without the physical act—that’s all.”
Shockingly, the gay community was not impressed with Garfield’s method of putting himself in his character’s shoes by watching one television show and, possibly, decorating his apartment with rainbow flags, and they immediately took to social media to vent their frustration.
They even invented a new term for Garfield’s playacting: “straight privilege.”
Progressive publications also found themselves with a case of the vapors. Teen Vogue pronounced Garfield officially problematic, and chastised the star for his obvious ignorance—and probably, at least this time, with good reason. Garfield’s comments don’t just ignore what Teen Vogue calls systematic “oppression,” but they also play into a stereotype the gay community probably thought died off with the advent of social justice warriors.
Of course, Garfield isn’t the first Hollywood celebrity to believe that hanging out with a cadre of male buddies or getting whistled at on the street by a dude is enough to confer a special form of understanding and alignment with a minority group. James Franco once, famously, said that he he liked it when people thought he was gay because it made him a better ally to the LGBT community.