Jack Whitehall faces backlash as Disney's 'first gay man'

Comedian Jack Whitehall Image copyright Getty Images

Jack Whitehall has received backlash online after news broke that he'd been cast as Disney's first major gay character in Jungle Cruise.

The comedian wrote that he was "honoured" to be a part of the 2019 film, and it was later reported that he would be playing an openly gay man.

The news has led some people to ask why a gay actor wasn't cast for the role.

"Could they seriously not pick someone actually gay?" one person tweeted.

Others have argued that hiring gay actors to exclusively play gay roles is "typecasting".

Jungle Cruise, which is based on a Disney theme park ride of the same name, is due to be released in October 2019.

Jack announced that he'd be joining co-stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Emily Blunt on Instagram.

Jack's role is rumoured to be "hugely effete, very camp and very funny" and some people have argued that having a straight man act like this is "perpetuating stereotypes".

Comparisons have also been made between the outrage aimed at Jack Whitehall and that of Scarlett Johansson playing a trans role.

But others are warning about the dangers of calling for gay roles to only be played by gay actors, since it can lead to typecasting.

Jonah Ford said: "Calling for gay actors to play gay roles will limit gay actors only to gay roles."

He said what mattered was if the "performance was believable".

And some say his sexuality shouldn't matter, since gay actors regularly play straight characters.

This isn't the first openly gay role in a Disney movie: the live-action Beauty and the Beast contained an "exclusively gay moment".

But Jack Whitehall's character would be Disney's first openly gay man in a major role.

Newsbeat has contacted representatives for Jack Whitehall and Disney but they haven't responded.

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