I have to say, “Zac Efron‘s First Gay Interview” is the kind of headline that makes your mind go to one very specific, oh shit, better jump on this news story place. However, it turns out that Zac is not outing himself in this sit-down with The Advocate. Rather, it’s the first time that Zac is really acknowledging how much of an influence the LGBT community has had on his career since we first met him in the 2006 Disney Channel Original Movie High School Musical.
See, back then queer folk admired his singing basketball player Troy because he showed that you could do something not considered masculine/”cool” and still keep your friends’ respect. Then Zac grew up, got sexy, and danced around in his underwear in the rain for his new movie The Paperboy. And while that admiration remained, there was also a bit of an attraction. To his credit, Zac is well aware of the various facets and comes across as incredibly respectful (i.e., not grossed out). The whole interview is definitely worth a read, but what most struck us was Zac’s genuine gratitude and candor about his queer fanbase:
Screen grabs of you in wet undies made quite an impression in the gay blogosphere, but your presence on gay blogs is certainly nothing new.
It’s very flattering. After High School Musical and Hairspray, I’ve always felt embraced by the gay community, and I feel incredibly grateful and honored. This is actually a very special interview for me. I’m extremely aware of the support I’ve gotten from you guys over the years, and it’s amazing that it’s taken this long to sit down and actually discuss it, but please know that it hasn’t gone unappreciated. I’m so excited to be talking to you.
When did gay fans first come to your attention?
I really felt that support after High School Musical. I think the gay audience related to my character Troy, because it really was a story of embracing who you are, no matter how different you might be, and not being afraid to show it. That’s a universal theme for everyone, but it specifically resonated with the gay community, and I felt very proud of that.
Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if people thought Troy was gay, but anyway. Young Hollywood as a whole seems a lot more tolerant and liberal, especially when you have people like Ezra Miller saying “I’m queer” without any apparent angst. But it takes an extra step to not take all the credit and to publicly acknowledge the LGBT community’s role in your success.
Also, I really liked his response to this part.
In a 2008 Details profile, the writer brought up the subject of gay rumors, particularly as they related to blogger Perez Hilton’s online speculation about you. You replied, “Honestly, if the worst he can say about me is that I’m gay, then I think I’ll be fine. I can handle it.” That was a pretty cool and classy response.
Thank you. I don’t like to live in fear about things like rumors and backlash to begin with — that’s the way I was raised — but I just can’t see what’s so wrong about being gay.
Between Zac and Josh Hutcherson, it’s really refreshing to see straight guys as such adamant allies.
And here’s a .gif of the scene from The Paperboy that is capturing so many hearts, gay and straight.