Pushing boundries: How Lee Pace champions the queer community
Taking up a chapter in the big book of outdated journalism is an interview by W Magazine in which actor Lee Pace was questioned about his (sorry, we can’t stop yawning) sexuality. No, you haven’t done a quantum leap back to the early 80s; this is still very much the late twenty-teens, which is likely part of the reason why Pace was so taken back by the whole thing.
“I’ve dated men. I’ve dated women,” he told the publication before adding, “I don’t know why anyone would care. I’m an actor and I play roles. To be honest, I don’t know what to say – I find your question intrusive.”
The Halt and Catch Fire star took to Twitter last year to share some further thoughts on the issue: “My privacy is important to me, so I protect it. When interviewed by the media, I keep the focus on my work. As a member of the queer community, I understand the importance of living openly, being counted, and happily owning who I am.”
As Pace also pointed out, his work has always spoken for itself in that respect. “It’s been important to me to portray queer characters with dignity for my entire career.” As such, it’s worth noting the actor has been a champion of LGBTQI acceptance for much of his career.
In fact, his 2003 breakthrough role was as a transgender showgirl in the Showtime TV movie Soldier’s Girl. Based on a true story, the movie follows a love affair between Calpernia Addams (Pace) & Barry (Troy Garity) – a soldier whose volatile roommate (Shawn Hatosy) doesn’t approve of the romance, leading to a savage homophobic murder.
The movie provided timely commentary about the need for LGBTQI acceptance while also highlighting the issues surrounding the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy concerning sexuality. The actor received rave reviews for the performance, with The New York Times enthusing, “Mr. Pace gives us wholly confident femininity, wit, and old-time movie star power without over-easy flamboyance.”
More recently, Pace starred as what Mic once described as “the most sexually interesting character on TV right now,” the openly bisexual Joe MacMillan in the brilliant technohistory Halt and Catch Fire. The lack of sensationalism and sexual fluidity of Pace’s character made for one of the most groundbreaking characters on television until its heartbreaking finale in 2017. Joe was never tokenized in the series, but instead developed with complexity & realism.
In 2011, Pace also portrayed Aids activist Bruce Niles opposite Jim Parsons in The Normal Heart on Broadway. He’s also set to imminently portray anguished, closeted Mormon Joe Pitt in the upcoming Broadway revival of Angels in America. And while Bryan Fuller’s Pushing Daisies didn’t feature Pace in a queer role, the show remains a campy masterpiece wholeheartedly revered & embraced by the queer community.
Overall, the actor hasn’t exactly been shy in promoting LGBTQI acceptance or aligning himself as part of the queer community during his career. With that in mind, can we all just quantum leap to the future now where actors don’t need to be questioned about their sexuality? How about we let work speak for itself and not regress to outing public figures – our bodies can’t handle such volumes of yawns anymore.