One of the few celebrities actually worth celebrating

Susan Sarandon is one; Tim Robbins is another; Sean Penn is a third. Why? Because they dare to take a stand for what’s right, whether or not it’s popular at the time. Now, Charlize Theron makes four:

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation presented its Vanguard Award to Theron at the 17th annual GLAAD Media Awards for increasing “visibility and understanding in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.”

“This is very surreal for me because two years ago, I stood right here and won my Oscar for ‘Monster,'” Theron said in ceremonies at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Her portrayal of lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos in “Monster” won her the 2003 Academy Award for best actress.

Last year, Theron told TV’s “Extra” that she and her partner, Stuart Townsend, would not wed until gay and lesbian couples attained the legal right to marry.

“I feel so fortunate that I am in a relationship with a wonderful man,” Theron said Saturday night. “I find it incredibly unfair that because of our sexual preference, we have the rights that we have, and that, because of someone else’s sexual preference, they don’t have those same rights.”

Hey, Char, good on ya. I could say the same thing myself, but I’m Canadian. Same-sex marriage is legal up here. So the only thing keeping me from marrying is the fact that I just plain don’t want to. But all the same, I know a brave stand when I see one, so I salute thee. You’re a big soul in a pusillanimous world, and a bravura performance like this is entirely in character for you.

Now, some dumb rightards might sniff and say big deal, what did you expect, Hollywood is liberal! But as I’ve blogged before, it’s really not. And no one knows it better than gay actors who, even now, are still largely closeted. The reason? Money. As long as gay is seen as not quite normal, “out” gay actors and actresses will simply not command the high salaries and box office receipts of their straight counterparts.

And isn’t it interesting that when gay roles do go ’round, they often get straight actors to fill them? And vice versa?

Not that it’s a bad thing for a straight actor to play gay; it goes a long way toward raising consciousness and acceptance. But still–isn’t it odd how there are not so many queers playing queer?

And how much of an actorly coup is it to be attracted primarily to the opposite sex, but kiss someone of the same sex on screen, really? A kiss is still a kiss, and so far’s I know, the same mechanism applies no matter who’s kissing whom. And since love is the same emotion regardless of the sexual orientation of the lover, it’s hardly playing against type to play a person in love–even if the loved one is not someone you’d pick in real life. Happens all the time in the movies; you can both be straight and not feel a thing for each other but still play red-hot lovers with ease and conviction. So, why not gay playing straight–and the other way ’round?

Maybe there’ll come a day when it no longer matters if you’re gay or straight. Then, those in the vanguard will become the norm. Until then, there’s a lot of in-your-face activism still crying for famous faces to play their parts. I guess that’s the reason this is such a big deal right now. But who, honestly, isn’t looking forward to the day when queer ceases to be such a big deal, and becomes simply…normal?

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