Michael Cimino, star of Hulu’s gay comedy-drama Love, Victor, says he has received death threats for playing a gay character.
The actor, who is straight, portrays series lead Victor, a gay student at a new high school who embarks on a journey of self-discovery while coming to terms with his sexuality.
In an interview with Attitude, Cimino said that he has received criticism and even death threats for the role, both from LGBTQ people unhappy about a straight actor taking a gay role, as well as homophobic people unable to accept that he was willing to play gay.
“I got some homophobic comments — I kind of expected that to happen. I didn’t expect it from my own family members, though,” he said. “Some of them reached out, saying, ‘You used to be so cool; now you’re so gay.’ I chalk it up to ignorance.”
Cimino continued: “People have that programming and they often don’t have to evolve and try to push past that. 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.’”
He added that he has “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. “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. If you’re not an actual ally, then what are you doing?” he continued. “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.”
Cimino said that he was advised not to accept the role of Victor, especially for his first major acting job, telling him, “‘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.’”
“I’m not a traditional ‘masculine’ man, so that would be people trying to force me into something I’m not,” he said. “Here I am playing a gay role that might not be considered masculine in an outdated idea of what masculinity is.”
Speaking to Metro Weekly last year, Cimino said he wants Love, Victor to be “a show that really affects young people in a positive way.”
“Something that gives them a new perspective, to walk a life where they can finally be themselves,” he said. “I think we’re past the point of hiding who we are. People have every right to be who they are truthfully, and have no shame about it. That’s the message I want younger audiences to receive.”
He added: “I’ve always just been the type of person where it’s like you should just be who you are authentically. I’ve always wanted to get to a place where I wasn’t judged for being who I was. And I think everyone should have the right to just be who they are.”
Love, Victor recently released its second season on Hulu. In our review, we found it “leans into its teen soap tendencies, while still diving deeper into a nuanced tale of queer acceptance.”
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