Actor’s Union SAG/AFTRA Stands With Its LGBT Members
"Old Dogs New Tricks," a popular web sitcom about middle-aged gay men navigating the dating pool in the gay mecca of West Hollywood CA, is Leon Acord’s pride and joy. Acord is the series’ creator, writer, and star. Old Dogs, covered by SFGN last February, has become a mini-phenomenon, having recently been sold for DVD release in the USA and for broadcast in Canada.
As the series enters its third season, Acord couldn’t be happier. Yet he freely admits that the series might never have been created were it not so difficult for out, LGBT identified actors to work in Hollywood. Acord, a former San Francisco resident, created Old Dogs New Tricks in part out of a need to provide work for himself.
"I had no problem getting cast in San Francisco," Acord tells SFGN. "I did three plays a year, just as many independent films. I now do a play every three years."
He recalls, not too happily, a review he got for one particular show he was in. "I portrayed a straight male in a play called ’Salsa Saved the Girls,’ " he said. "A theater critic wrote that I ’played a straight stalker which is hard to believe given his personal orientation.’ "
In spite of the success and popularity of stars like Neil Patrick Harris, Jim Parsons and others, many LGBT identified actors in Hollywood have faced the kinds of issues Acord speaks of. In a business more cutthroat and competitive than most, LGBT actors often face rejection on the basis of their "labels." Acord has been told by several casting agents that he comes across as "too gay."
"The biggest problem is opportunity," said openly gay comic/actor Jason Stuart. "The idea that we are limited to only playing certain kinds of roles. My goal is to open the conversation so we can create more work for the blue collar actor."
Stuart, who came out in 1993, is working with SAG/AFTRA, the union which represents film and television actors, to create a safe and supportive environment for its LGBT members.