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The rumored Jurassic World cast has us asking: Have we entered the gay blockbuster era?

The rumored 'Jurassic World' cast has us asking: Have we entered the gay blockbuster era?

The rumored 'Jurassic World' cast has us asking: Have we entered the gay blockbuster era?

Colman Domingo and Jonathan Bailey may headline the summer action tentpole movie — does this mean we’ve finally turned the corner on queer representation in Hollywood?

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I am over the Jurassic Park/World era — or at least I was until I saw the rumored cast of the inevitable upcoming sequel. Dev Patel? Yes, please. Scarlett Johansson? Sure, why not? Then I saw the other two names being bandied around as lead characters: Colman Domingo and Jonathan Bailey.

Yes, our first Black gay movie star and our forever boyfriend Jonathan Bailey in the same movie. The same movie that’s about to receive a Jurassic-sized (sorry I can’t resist) budget and marketing push. The same movie that’s expected to be one of, if not the tentpole of whatever summer it drops. And the same movie that families all across the nation, and the world, are going to go see in the theaters with their kids, with their parents, with their grandparents. This is honestly kind of a big deal if it turns out to be true.

There was a time when coming out as queer was considered a career killer. From Greta Garbo to Rupert Everett, suspected or confirmed queer actors faced consequences. Being out meant being relegated to smaller features and gay roles (those not taken by straight actors, that is) or simply disappearing from Hollywood. Thankfully, the tide has been turning, especially in recent years.

While queer films have long been critically acclaimed and typically starred straight actors. Think: Brokeback Mountain, Dallas Buyers Club, The Danish Girl, or Call Me By Your Name that hasn’t been reflected in the box office (The Birdcage being one notable exception).

But a steady push for queer actors to play queer roles has resulted in both backlash and success in moving the needle. Recent years have seen movies like Bros, Love Lies Bleeding, and Fire Island all featuring queer leads telling queer stories. They also offer opportunities for queer actors to land marquee roles and build fan bases both within and outside the niche queer audience.

Why does that matter? Well, it’s not called show business for nothing. In a 2018 IndieWire article about the disparity between queer actors and actresses in Hollywood, a source laid the problem out in no uncertain terms. “It’s all about perception. They want to believe that the lead guy is fucking the lead woman,” he said. “If a studio is backing a film with a ton of money … They want everyone who is buying tickets to believe that that’s the case. Sadly, if we know that in real life the lead guy is screwing around with another guy, the fear is that it may hurt ticket sales,” they explained.

In other words, being out makes you a financial risk, one that studios aren't going to hang a massive film, let alone a franchise on. And yet, here we are today potentially looking at just that happening: two out and proud gay men leading one of the most beloved and profitable franchises in modern cinematic history. Just how profitable? According to The Numbers, its films have earned more than $6 billion.

What this casting ultimately says, if turns out to be true, is that gay stars are seen as bankable, relatable leads. It’s a small victory, but one that was fought for and worth noting, celebrating, and buying a ticket to.

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Rachel Shatto

EIC of PRIDE.com

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.