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http://www.gaycalgary.com/a2667 [copy]

Jason Stuart

Talented Funnyman Heads North

Celebrity Interview by Evan Kayne (From GayCalgary® Magazine, January 2012, page 32)
Jason Stuart: Talented Funnyman Heads North
Image by: Shannon Youngclaus
Jason Stuart: Talented Funnyman Heads North
Image by: Shannon Youngclaus
Jason Stuart: Talented Funnyman Heads North
Image by: Shannon Youngclaus
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Comedian and actor Jason Stuart is one of those faces you see cropping up in many shows. He’ll be up in Whistler BC for the LGBT WinterPRIDE 2012 Whistler Gay Lesbian Ski Week, on from February 5th to 12th, as the headline act on the comedy show. Jason has over 150 film and television appearances to his credit: Entourage, Everybody Hates Chris, My Wife and Kids, and House just to name a few. As well, he has been in several movies and is still actively working as a comedian - an openly gay man in the entertainment business.

In fact, he is also the chair of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) National LGBT Actors Committee, which works to support LGBT actors and educate SAG membership, the industry, and the public on LGBT actors’ issues. It concentrates on stopping discrimination against LGBT actors in the workplace.  In the entertainment industry, this still happens - Jason has experienced it in the past, but it is getting better.

While he doesn’t experience discrimination quite so much nowadays, he is seeing his "type" change on screen. As he ages, he has gone from playing a handful of gay roles to playing mostly straight characters, as Hollywood sees gay roles as "young, hot, totally shaven". While this stereotyping can be a bit frustrating, he says he’s not sure about calling it that directly ("what’s stereotyping, I don’t quite know anymore").

Jason has been openly gay for years, and as previously mentioned, while it is encouraging to see a lot of openly gay performers in character roles, many people wonder when – if ever – we will see a major big screen star come out. This raises his hackles a little bit. "We’re all obsessed with that leading man...I say who cares! That’s one part. We’re all obsessed with the one guy we can’t get, or who’s big for 10 years." His argument is that the public and, perhaps especially the media, is preoccupied with having the big star come out, as if he’ll then be appointed the Gay Messiah.

Yet there are all these character actors or other arts professionals who are openly gay, but are not getting the same amount of attention or support; especially since it is a lot of these professionals (like Jason) who are doing the heavy lifting by working to support LGBTQ concerns.

Being an openly gay comedian means you have to have a thick skin and be quick on your feet to push back against hecklers. Unfortunately, the LGBTQ community is still being seen as a target for humour by some comedians. "Oh, there’s still tons and tons of that...", Jason agrees, but then he adds that he thinks it’s getting better.  "We still have a lot more to go. We’re still fighting for equal rights. In [Canada] you have it...we don’t have it here."

Besides his work as an actor, Jason has a lecture about his experiences and the ins and outs of being openly gay in the workplace. When asked if there was any incident or anything in his history which motivated him to provide service back to the community, he deferred the question. "I don’t think about it that way...I think that’s who I am as a person...I think service is a part of who I am as a person." When he came out 18 to 19 years ago it was such a different time. It was exhausting to be in the closet, and hard to be an artist and do your best work, he tells me.

Jason was also motivated to be an actor and a comedian from his history growing up in the 1970s. During that time, there were no videos telling kids "It Gets Better". There was barely any knowledge or positive education about being gay. Jason can therefore identify with some of the kids today because, "I was one of those kids...If I wasn’t an actor – if I didn’t have that fantasy of becoming really successful, I think I would have killed myself."

As someone who was bullied for being gay as a kid, he does think that the "It Gets Better" campaign is fabulous, and has helped to make bullying a noticeable problem, but he’d caution us that nothing changes overnight.

Besides his appearance at WinterPride in Whistler, BC, he is quite busy with college dates, working on a horror movie "Guest House" (in a big supporting role as a straight guy) and in a prison drama, K11. Additionally, for fans of the movie Bear City, Jason will be making an appearance in the sequel – which is currently in post production.

Having viewed some of his work and seen him in small parts on television shows, I’d highly recommend keeping an eye out for him. Jason comes off as a well connected professional who really should be a lot more famous. Let’s hope we see his star rise further in the future.(GC)

Image by: Shannon Youngclaus
Image by: Shannon Youngclaus
Image by: Shannon Youngclaus
Image by: Shannon Youngclaus
Image by: Shannon Youngclaus
Image by: Adam Bouska
Image by: Kevin Scanlon
Image by: Piper Ferguson
Image by: Piper Ferguson

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