Yes, it was risky to play an openly gay character at the time, but keep in mind
that the film was a remake of a Brazilian film of the same title. Hurt's portrayal is very
like the Brazilian actor's (whose name I confess I don't remember).
But yes, there are many performances that, sadly, don't stand the test of time.
My favorite example is the film that won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1939.
It wasn't Clark Gable for "Gone with the Wind" (though it should have been)---it was Robert
Donat for "Goodbye, Mister Chips".
The film concerns a rumpled, absent-minded professor an an all-boys English boarding
school who unexpectedly falls in love an marries a lovely young woman who (of course!)
dies in childbirth.
It was always sentimental, but by today's standards, it is treacly and more than a tad sexist.
When, at the end of the film, someone tells Mr. Chips that it's a shame he never had children of
his own, he proudly flashes back to the faces of the generations of young men he's taught
and says "I have children---hundreds of them, thousands of them, and all of them----BOYS!"
He got the Oscar anyway.