Well, friends –

It seems it’s true.  I always suspected it, and it was a fully-formed reason why I moved back here when I could have escaped to another (ANY other) queer-friendly haven.

I am the only butch actor in LA. At least, the only one at my level, and the only one that I can see, even when I look way way way out towards the horizon, past West Hollywood and Long Beach and bikini clad beach girls and hot Butch Lalis Latina Daddys and everything else.

This weekend I attended a free casting director panel hosted by the Screen Actors’ Guild LGBT Actors’ Committee, part of the SAG Affirmative Action and Diversity Committee, and the Casting Society of America. Eight casting directors participated in a Q & A about how to increase visibility of LGBT actors in film and television.  The event was well attended, but my guess is this was due to the fact that 24 select actors were granted one-on-one sessions with the casting folks, and they didn’t announce who was picked until after the panel discussion ended.

To avoid any further suspense: guess who was picked?! The PB! And guess who was the ONLY masculine-of-center woman in attendance? RIGHT AGAIN!

I was it. The token butch. The only one in a sea of gay men and most-likely straight actors looking for casting advice.  There was one lovely and elegant MTF also, and we made a good connection fueled by the fact that we share the same agent. (Coincidence? This guy knows his minority commodities.)

The panel was interesting but left me with a strange void in my stomach – the elephant in the room, the unanswered question loomed over us all as the discussion became heated one too many times.  The cd’s, some of whom are openly gay themselves, loudly affirmed that they ‘don’t care who we sleep with’ and ‘want to know nothing about our personal lives’ when we walk into the audition room.  They affirmed that they don’t cast straight actors vs. gay actors, but rather focus on talented actors vs. non.  However, what lingered was what only my MTF friend had the ovaries to bring up – What happens for those of us who plain ol’ LOOK gay? How to we compete for parts that are not orientation-specific characters in the mainstream media?

Silence. Tumbleweeds.

Things fared better for me during the coveted one-on-one-speed-meet-and-greet session that followed after lunch, even down to a cd saying she was going to bring me in for a lead part in a short she’s shooting this Fall.  BUT I did have one (the most gregarious, blunt, almost offensive) cd look me straight in the eye and say “Well, you have a pretty face, you’re 5’11 and you have short hair. What the hell am I supposed to do with you?”

What the hell indeed?

If there are any other butch performers out there – whether you’re in LA or elsewhere, whether you just make YouTube vids or do drag or sing showtunes in your bathroom – I’d love to hear stories of your performing battles.  I need reinforcements as an army of one.