Actor Wentworth Miller is best known for his role on the FOX drama Prison Break, but he’s now caught the attention of people who might not have been familiar with his work by coming out as gay in a pretty awesome way. Miller was asked to be a guest of honor at the upcoming St. Petersberg International Film Festival, but he wrote a letter to the festival’s director declining the invitation and citing Russia’s recent anti-LGBT laws as the reason. The GLAAD website published the letter, which you can read below.
Dear Ms. Averbakh:
Thank you for your kind invitation. As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes.
However, as a gay man, I must decline.
I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government. The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.
Perhaps, when and if circumstances improve, I’ll be free to make a different choice.
The policies Miller is protesting include a law passed by President Vladimir Putin which bans the adoption of Russian-born children to gay couples both nationally and internationally, as well as to countries accepting of LGBT rights. Another law bans pro-LGBT “propaganda,” which includes the expression of pro-gay sentiments or public displays of affection from same-sex couples. GLAAD points out that these policies have resulted in an increase in LGBT violence in Russia.
I think it’s so inspiring when celebrities come out to take a stand against issues like this. For example, in 2011, Zachary Quinto came out in response to gay teen Jamey Rodemeyer’s suicide. When stars like Quinto and Miller share a part of their lives that isn’t inherently anyone’s business in order to take a stand against inequality, it not only sends a powerful message to people who would have gay people suffer under unjust policies and discrimination, but it inspires other gay people, especially young people, to stay strong and embrace who they are. Miller’s coming out didn’t beg for people to pay attention to him. Rather, it begged for people to pay attention to these despicable policies. By making this letter public, Miller has undoubtedly informed countless people about these issues about which they might not have known had he not made these statements.
We commend Wentworth Miller for his bravery and honesty, and for using his place in the spotlight to bring attention to such an important issue.