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“As the World Turns” alum Jake Silbermann reflects on being a straight actor playing gay roles

Before we had Will and Sonny on Days of Our Lives or Oliver and Kyle on One Life to Live, we had Luke and Noah on As the World Turns – the first gay supercouple in daytime soaps.

Jake Silbermann was Noah and he’s written a column for Huffington Post reflecting on the experience.

Here is an excerpt:

When I was 23 I was cast in the daytime drama As The World Turns to be part of the Soap world’s first gay male couple. I was thrilled to get the part even though it was originally slated for only three months. On the other hand, if “Noah Mayer” connected with the audience, if there was a spark of chemistry between him and his hopeful amour “Luke Snyder” (wonderfully portrayed by Van Hansis), a series regular, maybe I would get to stick around awhile. Lo and behold, that three-month slate turned into a three year run and I became half of the first gay daytime “Super Couple,” even gracing a footnote in Time magazine.

As fan mail started pouring in I began to realize that for many people, these characters and their budding relationship provided something special.It’s pretty unusual to receive letters from people of all ages thanking you for helping them find themselves and come out to their family and friends. I was genuinely surprised and touched by the outpouring of emotion and gratitude I was receiving. There was an undeniable chemistry between Luke and Noah that we were very conscious of cultivating, and I think it was that chemistry that allowed fans to feel comfortable reaching out to us and sharing their very personal stories. And yes, before you ask and get your Google search in a twist, I am straight.

With the popularity of Noah arrived the question, “Are you gay?”

Journalists, blogger’s and anyone who happened to ask what I did for a living would inevitably ask this question. Some were delicate in their phrasing and other’s quite blunt. It was funny really. I had never been asked that before and honestly as a young straight guy, prior to my casting, I could have seen myself being slightly offended by the inquiry. What? No, Why do you ask?

Given the role and its historic nature, I understood peoples’ natural curiosity, but there also seemed to be a need to contextualize my work, as though it was more challenging for me, as a straight man, to play a character in love with another man. My response was always to remind them that any credible love scene between two strangers is difficult, male or female. Once that subject was dealt with, it was often followed by a second question, one I was much less comfortable responding to at the time: “Are you afraid of being type cast as gay?”

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(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

6 Remarks

  1. Wonderful article by an incredibly talented man – and I wish Jake all the best on Broadway in The Assembled Parties and with his Kickstarter campaign for the exciting new film The Revival !!

  2. I was 57 when Luke and Noah were introduced. I was so taken with them I started scrapbook. I felt like a kid with a crush on a rock star or something.
    I think it was seeing a relationship like theirs on network daytime, made it real for me. That, and the connection Van and Jake had on screen was fantastic. Thank you Jake Silbermann and Van Hansis for a wonderful TV experience.

  3. ATWT Luke and Noah’s brave storyline was a major daytime TV breakthrough and game changer. Jake’s Huffington article was also inspired and deeply heartfelt. Much success to his upcoming film The Revival and to Van Hansis’ online Eastsiders.

  4. Those old good times of ATWT, with Luke and Noah. Trying to pay attention to every little tiny word muttered out of their mouths helped me improve my still clumsy listening skills with English (I live abroad by the way) and I still remember the eager expectation we (the “fans”) had whenever they appeared on screen. In perspective I am so glad that it is becoming less and less of an issue to see a gay couple in the media. I consider that it is still important for young people to have some sense of normalcy, some model to watch upon in the media (not necessarily idealized but not degraded either), to counteract still prevalent prejudices.

  5. I loved Luke and Noah on ATWT. Although I was really mad when the writers gave everyone a happy ending except for Nuke. I would really love for it to come back on air even for just a couple of months in order to wrap up the Nuke storyline the way that all the fans pictured it. I wish Van and Jake the best with their careers and personal lives.

  6. I’ve watched the episodes of As The World Turns recently
    and i’m very impressed.
    One of the best soapseries i’ve ever seen.
    Action from the beginning till the end.
    The cast was awesome. The message is very clear:
    Never give up, even if you do think there won’t be
    any solution. Our world is filled with wonders.
    I really admire Jake and Van. They played their roles as
    Noah and Luke fantastic. Really 2 brilliant actors.
    Hope to see and hear more of them in the years ahead.
    Happy New Year.

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