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December 8, 2008 |

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | December 8, 2008 |

Fifteen years ago, Tom Hanks broke barriers by becoming the first major motion picture star to star in a major motion picture movie as a major motion picture gay man. Philadelphia would go on to make over $75 million at the box office and land Hanks his first Oscar. He blew the doors right open for other movies about gay characters, right?

In theory, I suppose. But in practice: While gays and lesbians in indie cinema are plentiful, gay and lesbian characters rarely rise above best friend or scene-stealer status in mainstream Hollywood films. And even then, most gay characters in studio films are depicted as stereotypical queens and flamers. Mrs. Doubtfire was an amusing enough movie, with decent enough performances, that humanized gay men to some extent. But it wasn’t a realistic portrayal of a real gay person. A decade and a half after Philadelphia, A-list actors depicting gay characters in mainstream films are still a rarity. Here’s my favorite five, with an honorable mention to Robert Downey, Jr. for his roles in both Wonder Boys and Home for the Holidays.

5. Robert DeNiro as Captain Shakespeare in Stardust

4. Sean Penn as Harvey Milk in Milk

3. Kevin Kline as Howard Brackett in In and Out

2. Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia

1. Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain

A Seriously Random List XXXIII / Dustin Rowles

Lists | December 8, 2008 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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