Many believe that when heterosexual people speak out in support of LGBTIs, they don’t deserve applause. They have a point. It’s true that being pro-equality in 2016 should be the norm; that it’s no big deal. But can it not be said that every positive gesture, big or small, is a step in the right direction, and should be acknowledged?
Here’s a look at 11 heterosexual stars who’ve spoken up on our behalf since entering the limelight…
1. Daniel RadcliffeThe Harry Potter star has spoken passionately about queer rights in cover interviews with gay magazines Attitude and Out. He also grasped the importance of gay literary hero Alan Ginsberg, who he played in 2013’s Kill Your Darlings.
Last year, Daniel was named the RBS British LGBT Awards’ Celebrity Straight Ally. He graciously accepted, but added modestly: “It’s odd and bizarre getting an award for basic human decency.”
2. Lena DunhamWith her hit HBO show, Girls, writing and acting prodigy Lena gifted TV land with wonderful, fully-formed gay characters. Peter Scolari recently won an Emmy for his turn as main character Hannah’s late-blooming gay father Tad, plus Andrew Rannells has received critical acclaim for bringing a three dimensional edge to the ‘bitchy gay best friend’, Elijah. Meanwhile Hannah and Jemima Kirke’s Jessa have both experimented with their sexualities on the show.
Speaking before the legalization of same-sex marriage across the US last year, Lena said she and her boyfriend were “not against marriage, but I wanna wait. My sister is gay and it just doesn’t feel good to me to do something she can’t do.”
3. Anne HathawayThe Les Miserables actress also has a gay brother, and has said: “There are people who’ve said I’m being brave for being openly supportive of gay marriage, gay adoption… With all due respect, I humbly dissent. I am not being brave, I’m being a human being. Love is a human experience, not a political statement.”
4. James FrancoWe know what you’re thinking: how can the Oscar-nominated actor be a ‘straight ally’ if he’s… Well, whatever’s going on behind closed doors, James’s playfulness in public about his sexual identity has helped bring conversations about fluidity into the mainstream. His popularity among gay men is helped by the fact he’s rather hot. And as for his penchant for gay subject matter – Milk, Howl, I Am Michael…
In fact, next month sees the limited release of hotly-anticipated gay porn drama, King Cobra, featuring characters based on murdered gay porn producer Bryan Kocis and ex-gay porn star Brent Corrigan.
5. BeyoncéThe pop star was curiously quiet on the subjects of LGBTI rights for years. But Beyoncé made her position on gay marriage abundantly clear with a single Instagram post in 2013. It featured a hand-written note that read: “If you like it, then you should be able to put a ring on it. #WeWillUnite4MarriageEquality.”
She’s since covered Out and credited her gay stylist Ty Hunter with inspiring her creatively.
6. MacklemoreWho could forget Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Mary Labert’s killer performance of Same Love at the 2014 Grammys, which included Madonna and Queen Latifah officiating 33 gay weddings on stage? Rapper Macklemore – whose real name is Ben Haggerty – helped write the song’s most moving lyrics, themed around love and acceptance.
On it, he sings: “Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board/A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it/Gay is synonymous with the lesser/It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion.” To read the full lyrics, click here.
The cover art for the single – which reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 – depicts Haggerty’s uncle, John, and his partner, Sean.
7. PinkNo, she’s not bisexual! A lesbian icon maybe, and BFF of Linda Perry, certainly, but Pink – real name Alecia Moore – settled the score on her sexuality once and for all in a 2013 interview with The Advocate. Not that the lesbian rumors ever bothered her, which speaks volumes.
“I should be gay by the way that I look and the way that I am. I just happen to not be. But it just makes perfect and complete sense,” she said.
Adding that her lesbian fans are her ‘root stalk’, she continued: “When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was an honorary lesbian of Los Angeles. I wasn’t gay, but all my girlfriends were.”
8. Ben CohenHe’s the England rugby icon whose star rose when he took part in Strictly Come Dancing. But for many a gay, Ben is known first and foremost as a poster boy for LGBTI-friendliness – and for posing in his underwear on the covers of GT and Attitude.
His Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation often tackles anti-gay bullying in schools. He told the Mirror Online in 2014: “It is all about that next generation and teaching kids so they understand what gay means and the connotations of words like “homo” and “faggot”. Homophobia is in the same place that racism was 20 or 30 years ago. I think homophobia is still a problem everywhere. It is the last ‘ism’ – there are still traces of racism and sexism but there is further to go to stamp out homophobia.”
He spoke to E! last year of the long road ahead for the group: “It’s not only even about legislation. It starts there by making it legally acceptable but socially there is so much prejudice and bias that is integrated into our culture and that’s going to be around for while. I hope one day in my lifetime we get to close the door on this group but there’s a lot more work to do.”
10. CherShe’s been a queer icon for decades, but the legendary Cher admitted she struggled when her son Chaz transitioned. But there’s something inspiring about her candid honesty when she talked about it with the Sunday Times in 2013.
“Oh yes, I had a hard time,” she said. “I didn’t have a hard time in the beginning when Chaz came to see me and told me, ‘This is what I want to do.’ I said, ‘Well, if you’re miserable, then you’ve got to do it.’ But then as it was starting to happen, you know, it’s a strange change for a mother to go through.”
She also said the two are now ‘in the best place they’ve ever been.’
The Magic Mike star said: “I’ve never had to suffer any of those difficulties myself, but somewhere along the way, I decided to open my big mouth and use my platform to fight for all of the people to feel free to be who they are no matter where they are and be able to share their life and love with whomever their heart sees fit to love.”
He added: “I choose to fight for a world where equality is a reality, not just a dream.”