US actor and singer Jared Leto was accused of ‘trans misogyny’ last night (4 February).
The ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ star, who has won rave reviews by critics, was told by a heckler did not deserve to be honored for his work.
‘Trans misogyny does not deserve an award!’ screamed the unidentified woman at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Virtuosos Award tribute honoring Leto.
‘What do you mean by that?’ Leto asked, to which the heckler said, ‘You don’t deserve an award for portraying a trans woman, because you’re a man.’
‘Because I’m a man, I don’t deserve to play that part?’ he asked.
‘So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian – they can't play a straight part?’
Leto has already won the Golden Globe, SAG award and Critic’s Choice for his portrayal of Rayon, a trans woman living with HIV.
‘Then you've made sure people that are gay, people that aren't straight, people like the Rayons of the world would never have the opportunity to turn the tables and explore parts of that art,’ Leto added.
He offered to continue the conversation with the heckler afterwards, where according to the Hollywood Reporter they had a ‘cordial conversation’ for about 15 minutes.
While he has won appraise for his work, some trans people were offended by Leto’s speech at the Golden Globes. He joked about cross-dressing and called Rayon a ‘beautiful creature’.
British trans activist Paris Lees, writing in The Independent, said it was not an Oscar-worthy performance as she did not recognize in Rayon any trans woman she knows.
‘For truly accurate portrayals of trans people, cast trans actors, I say,’ she said.
‘Not everyone in the trans community agrees though – some say that casting “regular” actors is a positive step, which acknowledges that many trans people “blend in”.
‘Many trans people do blend in. But wouldn’t it be better for those trans people to blend in themselves? On screen?’
Jared Leto Takes Heckler To Task, Dedicates Night To Philip Seymour Hoffman
Leto wasn't perturbed by the heckler's narrow minded comments
Having played the HIV/AIDS+ Rayon in the Oscar nominated ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, Jared Leto has been keen to draw attention to the “Rayons of this world” with every public appearance he makes.
Nominated himself in the Best Supporting category, Leto has clearly been affected by Rayon’s life story, which – and here come some spoilers if you haven’t seen Buyers Club – ends after an unsuccessful battle with the Aids virus.
There was no Rayon in Ron Woodruff’s life. She's in the film to represent the change to his character from drunk homophobe to world-changing activist, who became accepting of gay people.
Leto was forced to defend “the Rayons of this world” when he was faced by a heckler at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where he was picking up an award for his portrayal of the transgender HIV patient.
A member of the audience at the Arlington Theater yelled, "You're a man! You shouldn't play a transgendered role", according to Thewrap.com. Leto then took the heckler to task, saying: "You've made sure that people who are gay, that the Rayons of this world should never be able to turn the tables" which prompted a warm round of applause from the audience.
The Oscar-nominee then invited the heckler to meet him after the interview to continue the conversation in person, saying, "The door is open". And reports suggest Leto did meet the audience member for a talk.
Leto, who also applies his talents to musicianship as well as acting, told The Guardian that he walked around in public as Rayon with a view to road testing the character.
"You kind of have to register reactions and things, so inevitably the day comes when you take her out for a walk: shaved, waxed, wigged-up, the whole bit. To get a little judgment, some meanness, a little condemnation was a useful thing for the part,” he said.
“I went to Whole Foods Market to, I guess, just stare at the food, because I certainly wasn't eating a whole lot of it. And I got three distinct looks from people. One was, 'What is that?' The second one was, 'Who is that?' and the other was, 'I dunno what the fuck that is but I don't like it.'"
At the end of the night, when all four actors received their awards from actor Christopher Lloyd, Leto took the microphone again. “I do want to dedicate this tonight to the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman,” he said. “A brave and fearless genius – someone who was a compass for all of us, and someone who will really be missed.”
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