10 Notable Celebrity LGBT Supporters

6:00 AM 10/3/2015

by Meena Jang

From Miley Cyrus to Anne Hathaway, these stars have all taken strides in advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

Anne Hathaway, Ellen Page
Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP; Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

In celebration of this weekend's premiere of Freeheld, here's a look at ten celebrities who have taken action to raise awareness for LGBT rights.

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    Miley Cyrus

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    This spring, Cyrus founded the Happy Hippie Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering homeless and LGBT youth, and partnered with Instagram to launch the #InstaPride initiative to help share transgender stories.

    But prior to her work with the HHF, the "Wrecking Ball" singer shared her stance on LGBT rights in other forms.

    In 2011, Cyrus got an equals sign tattooed on her ring finger in support of same-sex marriage penned an essay for Glamour in which she wrote, "I believe every American should be allowed the same rights and civil liberties. Without legalized same-sex marriage, most of the time you cannot share the same health benefits, you are not considered next of kin and you are not granted the same securities as a heterosexual couple. How is this different than having someone sit in the back of the bus because of their skin color?"

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    Ellen Page

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    The actress came out as gay during the Human Rights Campaign's Time to Thrive conference in 2014, during which she gave a powerful 8-minute speech about the internal turmoil she endured as a closeted actress in Hollywood.

    Since her public coming out, Page has made strong efforts to bring LGBT issues to the forefront, serving as host of Vice's upcoming travel series Gaycation (for which Page will visit cities around the world and explore different perceptions of LGBT culture) and taking on the role of an out gay woman in Freeheld, a romance drama centered on the fight for gay rights.

    In an interview with Time, Page also revealed that she is currently working on two upcoming projects that will have gay storylines. On the lack of representation of minority groups in Hollywood, she said, "I want to see gay stories, of course, because I’m gay, and I want to connect to a reflection of my life on film. But I also want to see what it’s like to be a young Native person, African-American, African-Canadian. Hopefully that will keep changing."

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    Kerry Washington

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    The Scandal actress was honored with the Vanguard Award at the 2015 GLAAD Media Awards in March for being a notable ally of the LGBT community. While giving her acceptance speech, Washington used her time at the podium to call for more LGBT representation in the media, prompting a standing ovation from the audience.

    "We need more LGBT characters and more LGBT storytelling. We need more diverse LGBT representation, and by that I mean lots of different kinds of LGBT people living all different kinds of lives," she said. "We need more employment of LGBT people in front of and behind the camera … We have to continue to be bold and break new ground until that is just how it is, until we are no longer 'first' and 'exceptions' and 'rare' and 'unique.' "

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    Anne Hathaway

    Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

    Hathaway, who is sister to a gay brother and has proudly spoken out about her family's acceptance of his sexuality, was a recipient of the Human Rights Campaign Ally Award in 2008.

    "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 during her acceptance speech. "I’m not being brave; I’m being a decent human being. And I don’t think I should receive an award for that or for merely stating what I believe to be true: that love is a human experience, not a political statement."

    In 2012, the actress and husband Adam Shulman sold their wedding photos and donated a share of the profits to marriage equality advocacy groups.

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    Daniel Radcliffe

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    The Harry Potter star was named Celebrity Straight Ally at the 2015 British LGBT Awards and expressed his thanks in a video message, in which he called the honor "slightly double-edged."

    "It's sad that an award for this needs to exist. It is odd and bizarre that I am essentially getting an award for displaying basic human decency in a sort of high-profile way," Radcliffe said. "I feel like a wonderful thing about our future will be that there will be nothing remarkable a straight actor saying that he supports gay rights."

    In 2011, the actor was also honored with the Hero Award by the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization that supports sexual minority youth, in 2011 for being an inspiration to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens.

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    Lena Dunham

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    Last year, the Girls co-creator was honored with the Horizon Award by the Point Foundation for being a "young trailblazer" and advocate for the LGBT community. During her acceptance speech, Dunham called the moment her younger sister came out as gay as a "huge turning point for me in my understanding of the issues facing LGBTQ people." She added that her goal on Girls,which portrays several gay characters, is to show "non-stereotypical examples of a wide range of people."

    Prior to the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage this June, Dunham and boyfriend Jack Antonoff had also publicly made it known that they wouldn't be tying the knot until same-sex marriage was legal in all 50 states.

    "The idea of having a celebration that can't be fully shared among all the people in my life and all the people that we love just doesn't really feel like a celebration at all," she told Ellen DeGeneres during a visit to The Ellen Show in March. 

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    Matthew Morrison

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    In 2013, Morrison partnered with the Human Rights Campaign in support of LGBT equality, donating partial proceeds from the sale of his album Where It All Began to benefit the organization. "At this decisive moment, when there is so much work still ahead, I’m standing with HRC and LGBT people across the country until this fight is won," he said at the time.

    Just this year, the Broadway star and Glee actor was given the Inspiration Award at the GLSEN Respect Awards for his work on the pro-LGBT Fox series. His acceptance speech discussed the misconceptions people have often have about him being gay.

    "Often, there's a misconception that if someone studies the arts or is into musical theatre, that they are gay, as if being gay is a negative," he said. "My response? I love gay people, so I'm not going to be insulted or angry by being called gay. As a straight man standing up for the LGBT community, I feel a sense of responsibility to make sure that people know that being gay is not a negative."

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    Brad Pitt

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    Before the nationwide legalization of gay marriage, the actor donated $100,000 to the Human Rights Campaign in 2012 to support the organization's same-sex marriage efforts.

    In an email to the HRC, Pitt said, "It's unbelievable to me that people's lives and relationships are literally being voted on in a matter of days. Every person's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in our country's Declaration of Independence, but powerful, well-funded groups are flooding the airwaves with lies trying to take away those rights from certain people ...  and we can't stand for it."

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    Lady Gaga

    Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

    The pop singer launched the Born This Way Foundation, an anti-bullying nonprofit organization, in 2012, the name of which plays off of her hit single "Born This Way" which features empowering lyrics such as "No matter gay, straight, or bi / Lesbian, transgenered life / I'm on the right track baby / I was born to survive."

    Lady Gaga has also expressed her support for the LGBT community on numerous other platforms, including on stage, during interviews and at gay pride rallies.

    In 2009, the singer told Out magazine that she wanted to "inject gay culture into the mainstream," saying, "When I started in the mainstream it was the gays that lifted me up. I committed myself to them and they committed themselves to me, and because of the gay community I'm where I am today."

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    Ellen DeGeneres

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    The comedian has been working to advance gay rights since the 1990s and was dubbed a "pioneer" for the LGBT community by fellow gay actress Jane Lynch.

    In 1997, DeGeneres came out on national television when her character Ellen Morgan announced she was gay in a pivotal episode of the sitcom Ellen. Years after making history as the first gay lead character on TV, DeGeneres helped bring a lesbian-themed comedy, One Big Happy, to NBC in 2015 (the short-lived series was cancelled after one season) and also launched a Gap Kids clothing line aimed at breaking down gender stereotypes.

    In August, during her acceptance speech for choice comedian at the Teen Choice Awards, she addressed LGBT youth with a moving message, saying, "I wanna say also it feels good to be chosen but there was a time in my life that I was not chosen. I was the opposite of chosen because I was different, and I think I wanna make sure that everyone knows that what makes you different right now, makes you stand out later in life. So you should be proud of being different. You should be proud of who you are."

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