Love, Victor is the groundbreaking gay coming-of-age romance series, now in its second season on Hulu, that so many older LGBTQ people yearned for when they were teens. But according to co-stars Michael Cimino (Victor) and George Sear (who plays Victor's boyfriend Benji), not everyone is feeling so appreciative of the high school drama.
"I got some homophobic comments — I kind of expected that to happen. I didn't expect it from my own family members, though," Cimino told gay U.K. magazine Attitude in its new summer issue. "Some of them reached out, saying, 'You used to be so cool; now you're so gay.' I chalk it up to ignorance. People have that programming and they often don’t have to evolve and try to push past that."
Cimino, who identifies as straight, added, "There’s nothing wrong with being gay. That ignorance is often something that’s been passed on from generations prior. I always approach that [by saying], 'These are normal people that are struggling and they shouldn’t have to struggle.'” Still, he pointed out, "I have changed opinions. I had some friends who are religious and they've changed their perspective on things."
But still, some advised him to avoid gay roles so he wouldn't be typecast. "I've been advised that you shouldn't play gay roles, especially [for] your first big role. 'Everyone will think you're gay' or ‘You won't be able to book anything,' 'You’ll never be able to build a fan base.'"
Cimino rejected that, and said, "I'm not a traditional 'masculine' man, so that would be people trying to force me into something I’m not. Here I am playing a gay role that might not be considered masculine in an outdated idea of what masculinity is."
Sear, who also identifies as straight, commented on that issue to Attitude, noting, "Overwhelmingly, it's been really positive. I love playing this character and I’ve tried to do my best to honor the responsibility of it. But honestly, it wasn’t really a thought in my circle not to even play these characters."
For Cimino, criticism has come from all sides, including from those who do not approve of him playing gay — and long-running and complex issue within the LGBTQ community.
"I've definitely had some criticism from the LGBT community for being in the role… I've had death threats, which is horrible. But the show is important to me. The messages of hate— I came into it knowing that would happen, regardless of how good I was," Cimino said.
"But there are some straight actors who play gay characters, who are all about supporting LGBT rights while they're promoting their project, but once they’re done, a year later, it’s kind of forgotten. That’s not how [to] be an ally, that’s not how you support LGBT rights," he said. "If you’re not an actual ally, then what are you doing?"
Cimino added, "It's an honor to play Victor, and a big responsibility. I went in with the pure intent to represent that correctly. I held myself to a really high standard to make sure everyone going through this story felt represented by the show."
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