Straight and Supportive

Some of the strongest advocates for gay rights don’t identify as LGBT.
by Gabe Bergado

As LGBT people worldwide continue to fight for equal rights, some prominent straight allies have announced their support as well. Here are a few of the most influential heterosexuals who have taken a public stance for equality:

ANNE HATHAWAY

Best known as the crown princess of Genovia in the 2001 movie The Princess Diaries, and more recently as the leather-clad Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, Anne Hathaway (along with her family) left the Catholic Church for its intolerance of homosexuality after her older brother Michael came out as gay.

“There are people who have said that I’m being brave for being openly supportive of gay marriage, gay adoption, basically of gay rights. But with all due respect, I humbly dissent,” Hathaway said in a2008 speech at a Human Rights Campaign dinner. “I’m not being brave, I’m being a decent human being.”

DAVID KOCH

Although David Koch is known for giving hefty donations to groups supporting Mitt Romney for president, he also supports marriage equality. Koch is a former member of the Libertarian Party, known to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

On August 30, the last day of the Republican National Convention, Koch announced that he favored marriage equality, counter to the stance of the GOP. He is a member of the Reason Foundation and the Cato Institute, two groups that support limited government interference with individual liberties.

JOSH HUTCHERSON 

Actor Josh Hutcherson, 19, blossomed as a teen heartthrob after playing Peeta Mellark in the first installment of The Hunger Games movies this past March. His family has advocated for the LGBT community, especially after his two gay uncles died of AIDS around the time he was born.

The actor, who also played the son of two lesbians in The Kids Are All Right, became the youngest person to receive the 2012 GLAAD Vanguard Award this April. The Vanguard Award is presented to a prominent equal rights advocate in the entertainment community who has helped make a significant change for the LGBT community. Additionally, Hutcherson has worked with the Straight But Not Narrow campaign, an initiative inspiring young straight men to support LGBT rights.

CYNDI LAUPER

Singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper joined the fight for equality to support her lesbian sister and because she believes the issue is “a matter of fairness,” according to a 2008 interview with CNN. Lauper, a Grammy Award winner, told CNN, “It’s always wrong to discriminate. I grew up in the civil rights movement. It was wrong then, and it is wrong now.”

Through her 2007 and 2008 “True Colors” tours, Lauper worked with the Human Rights Campaign to educate audiences on equality. Through the True Colors Fund and the Give a Damn Campaign, two projects she launched to advocate for LGBT equality, she denounced hate crimes and supported legislation like the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a bill that makes it a federal crime to attack someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity. President Barack Obama ultimately signed the bill in 2009.

ZACH WAHLS

The son of a lesbian couple, 21-year-old Zach Wahls most recently made a splash in the LGBT community when he delivered a short speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. There, he applauded President Obama, standing by the president’s endorsement of same-sex marriage.

Wahls first got wide public notice on January 31, 2011, when he addressed the Iowa House Judiciary Committee during a hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage in Iowa. His impassioned speech on behalf of his moms earned him instantYouTube fame. Wahls also withdrew from college last year to focus on activism. He now has a book out: My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family.

BRENDON AYANBADEJO

NFL linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens is one of the first pro athletes to make noise supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage. Uproar ensued in September when Maryland legislator Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Democrat and a pastor, wrote a scathing letter to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens demanding Ayanbadejo “be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions.”

Supporters of gay marriage rallied around Ayanbadejo; the Ravens and others in pro football backed him, and Ellen DeGeneres exchanged messages with him on Twitter. Three years after first announcing his support in 2009, Ayanbadejo had many supporters of gay marriage rally around him. Punter Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings also wrote an opinionated response to Burns, siding with his fellow NFL player.

KRISTEN BELL

Actress Kristen Bell, who gained a cult-classic following after playing the sassy TV sleuth Veronica Mars, became engaged to Dax Shepard in 2010. Even after years of dating, the two have decided to delay their own nuptials until the state of California legalizes same-sex marriage.

Most recently, Bell and her fiancé appeared on Larry King Now, where they discussed Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s controversial stance against same-sex marriage and his disclosure of the restaurant’s substantial donations to anti-gay organizations. Bell said that while people have the right to express their opinions, “We as citizens have the right to unite and share our opinions and go, ‘Hey guys, let’s not go to Chick-fil-A.'”

JOHN KERRY

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, revealed his support for same-sex marriage through a survey conducted by the Boston Globe in March of 2011, more than a year before politicians like Joe Biden and Barack Obama endorsed it.

Along with Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, Kerry sent a letter in June that encouraged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to review the FDA’s ban on gay men donating blood if they have had sex with another man since 1977.

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© 2012 Medill Equal Media Project
Medill School of Journalism | Northwestern University
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