A list of 10 actors who have inspired several queer people to come out and have helped squash negativity
June is the new month of love - uninhibited, free and unconfined love. Pride month 2021 is not just a time to celebrate the different forms of love and support our LGBTQIA+ friends, but also raise awareness and make people understand the simple concept that love is love. This month of the year becomes exceptionally important since it marks the start of a change and a new vigour in the community - to stand up for themselves, claim their place in society and exist free of judgement.
A number of celebrities have done their bit of advocacy for the cause over the years too. In 2019, Billy Porter made history by winning a Primetime Emmy for Pose, making him the first openly gay black man to win this award. In his speech, he said: "We, as artists, are the people that get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet. Please don't ever stop doing that. Please don't ever stop telling the truth."
Here are ten celebrities who have ceaselessly advocated for the rights of the queer community -
1. Elliot Page
Elliot Page is the first openly trans man to have appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. He came out as transgender on Instagram in December 2020 and has been actively working towards LGBTQ+ rights in the last few years. From speaking up against the homophobia he faced in the entertainment industry during the #MeToo movement to sharing his experience of being ridiculed at an event for X Men: The Last Stand in 2005 by director Brett Ratner, Page has consistently made his ordeals public to show solidarity with the community.
2. Ian McKellen
He’s been Magneto, Gandalf and has easily been one of Hollywood’s most legendary actors. Ian McKellen came out as gay in 1988 and there has been no looking back in his advocacy ever since. He’s a gay rights activist who has spoken at multiple events, donated to gay rights charities and started his own fundraisers to raise money for the community. When a UK official did not overturn an amendment which McKellen passionately spoke against due to its homophobic nature, the actor autographed a piece of paper for the official’s kids with “F*** off, I’m gay.”
3. Jodie Foster
Two time Academy Award winner Jodie Foster’s speech at the 2013 Golden Globes while accepting the Cecil B DeMille honorary award is testament to her standing up for what is right. She came out as gay and said, “Seriously, I hope that you’re not disappointed that there won’t be a big-coming-out speech tonight because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age.” The actress drew attention to how the press speculated her sexuality for a long time but that it was no one’s information to divulge but hers and on her own terms.
4. Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris is an exceptionally talented actor, the father of two adorable children and a happy husband to David Burtka. The actor came out in 2006 and has rejected the label of being a gay icon. However, he has beena part of several LGBTQ+ rights panel discussions, has celebrated pride parades and supported multiple queer artists throughout the years.
5. Jim Parsons
Jim Parsons has worked prolifically to support gay representation in films and television. He feels like it is never too late to include diversity and equal representation in projects. His vocal support for same sex marriages and AIDs awareness has resulted in dispelling misinformation about the disease.
6. Sarah Paulson
The American Horror Story actress is blissfully in love with Holland Taylor. The couple faced immense backlash owing to the age gap and homophobes found their way in by preaching that the couple’s relationship was unnatural. To this, Paulson responded by saying: “It’s complicated, because there is a lot of hate in this world, and a lot of good can come from quote-unquote normalizing something for people who don’t see it as normal.” Since then, she has actively supported fellow LBTQ+ artists and encouraged representation in the projects she is involved in.
7. Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Jesse Tyler Ferguson is our favourite on-screen husband in Modern Family. In real life, he is married to his long time partner Justin Mikita and the two husbands are very active in protests and issues of gay rights. Justin and Jesse started a non-profit initiative called ‘Tie The Knot’ to raise funds for the community. In 2013, the couple were asked by Lieutenant Governor of Illinois Sheila Simon to convince legislators to pass SB10 which would subsequently allow same-sex marriage. The bill passed and then, the couple travelled to New Mexico to protest for same-sex marriage rights. That same year, the American Civil Liberties Union named Ferguson the celebrity ambassador for the LGBT community.
8. Laverne Cox
This Emmy nominated actress is a transgender woman who is a trailblazer when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. She is a trans rights activist who graced the cover of Time Magazine in 2014 with the headline “The Transgender Tipping Point.” In the feature, Laverne drew attention to how little Americans have known about trans women and trans men and how the community’s struggles often go unnoticed. “There’s not just one trans story. There’s not just one trans experience,” she said. She is also the first openly transgender woman to have a wax statue at Madame Tussaud’s.
9. Ezra Miller
Ezra Miller is unapologetically himself and has proved to be an inspiration for several closeted queer kids who have looked up to him as Flash. He identifies as non-binary and Playboy’s decision to include him on their cover in 2018 - wearing high heels, sporting a red lip and the classic bunny years - showed the world that the actor is proud in his skin and sexuality and will not be shamed for it. He’s been advocating for gender neutral fashion and does not believe in boxes to define himself. The actor has motivated many members of the community to come out who have thanked him for being a role model.
10. Daniel Levy
Daniel Levy as David Rose is all we need to say. From liking the wine and not the label, to wearing gender bending clothes, Daniel has brought David to perfection since both identify as gay and are proud in their identity. In an interview about Schitt’s Creek, Daniel revealed that he did not want to make David’s sexuality the theme of the show because all sexuality should be normalised to simply the point of straight acceptance. He called out Comedy Central India in 2020 when the channel trimmed a kissing scene from Schitt’s Creek where David pecks Ted.