Gay actors, characters step out

GLAAD doesn’t cite actors in its gay sweepstakes, but maybe someone should.

Neil Patrick Harris deserves a hand for his perf on “How I Met Your Mother.” The praise showered on Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal for their courage in playing gay in “Brokeback Mountain” must now be redirected to the former Doogie Howser for his no-holds-barred embodiment of Barney, the world’s most conspicuous heterosexual.

Harris teaches us a thing or two about gay actors playing straight, and staying gainfully employed in Hollywood.

On the gay-straight battleground, no heterosexual actor has fought more bravely than Patrick Dempsey, who came to the aide of T.R. Knight on “Grey’s Anatomy” when the gay thesp was dissed by Isaiah Washington. As a result, what’s now known as the “other F-word” has become verboten in casual conversation.

At age 12, Mark Indelicato presents the groundbreaking portrayal of the fashion-obsessed Justin Suarez on “Ugly Betty.” Justin is just about every queer boy who ever breathed, only smarter. He knows he’s fabulous, and doesn’t show the slightest compunction about saying so.

And then there’s Trip Payne, the crossword-puzzle master featured in the doc “Wordplay.” He stands out not only for being casually open about his sexuality (his spontaneous smooch of his boyfriend ranks as one of the best movie kisses of 2006) but for his sterling sense of honor in speaking up for a rival contestant, whom he felt the judges had mistakenly shortchanged.

Kudos all around.

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