"There are certain [queer] roles that I'll see that are just wonderful," Criss told the site, fresh off an overseas tour with his former Glee co-star Lea Michele. "But I want to make sure I won't be another straight boy taking a gay man's role."
As Blaine Anderson on Glee, Criss made a name for himself as a talented performer — not least because of Criss' background in musical theater — but it was his Emmy-winning performance as the gay killer Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story that cemented him as one of Hollywood's finest chameleons, and one with a particularly good (and respectful) way of playing gay men.
But as he told Bustle's Shannon Carlin, he no longer feels comfortable playing gay roles, which he described as unfortunate, but is his way of showing allyship with the LGBT community. It's certainly well intentioned, and an increasingly savvy stance given that viewers, activists and even Hollywood insiders are increasingly critical of straight people playing gay, since that in effect helps keep actual gay actors from getting gay roles. And the inverse isn't true: very seldom do (out) gay actors play straight characters, particularly love interests, so having non-gay actors fill roles amounts to "straightwashing," an accusation levied at the film Call Me By Your Name, for example, since neither lead Timothee Chalamet or co-star Armie Hammer is gay.
As impactful as his decision might be, it may leave one group of people out in the cold: Gleeks. Telling Bustle that a return to a Glee — the show has not officially announced any plans to return but there have been grumblings of ideas among the cast — definitely won't happen soon. Saying that "the thing that made it special was its freshness," Criss advocated for a new set of actors — "new faces and new voices and I'd want to see that incarnated but with somebody new."