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Love, Victor star Michael Cimino received vicious death threats for playing titular gay role

Josh Milton June 17, 2021
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The first look clip of Love, Victor has dropped. (Screen capture via YouTube)

Love, Victor follows the story of a half Puerto Rican, half Colombian-American teen navigating high school with his friends. (Screen capture via YouTube)

Love, Victor star Michael Cimino says he has received death threats and even homophobic comments from his family for playing a gay character.

Cimino, who plays Victor Salaza in the Love, Simon Hulu spin-off, told Attitude for the British magazine’s summer issue that taking the lead role has put him in the firing line of homophobes – including his own family.

The 21-year-old, who is straight, said he takes the role of LGBT+ ally seriously as he chalked up the blowback to ignorance.

“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. People have that programming and they often don’t have to evolve and try to push past that.”

In playing a gay role as a straight man, Cimino said he’s faced fire from all sides. “I’ve definitely had some criticism from the LGBT+ community for being in the role,” he said, “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.

“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. If you’re not an actual ally, then what are you doing?”

Michael Cimino: ‘I’ve been advised to not play gay roles’

Michael Cimino said that the hateful headwinds he’s faced for being on Love, Victor – and the wider hate the LGBT+ community faces – is down to a lack of education.

“There’s nothing wrong with being gay,” he stressed. “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.'”

And ahead of Love, Victor‘s second season dropping in the UK, Cimino said working on the show has helped some of his friends grow as people.

“I have changed opinions,” he said. “I had some friends who are religious and they’ve changed their perspective on things.”

Yet Cimino said that his role in a show that has opened once closed minds is one he was strongly advised not to take up by the people around him.

On the left: Michael Cimino and George Sear in Attitude magazine. On the right: A close-up of Michael Cimino's face in a woodland
Michael Cimino and George Sear in Attitude magazine. (Attitude/ Dennis Leupold)

“I’ve been advised that you shouldn’t play gay roles, especially [for] your first big role,” he recalled.

“‘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.

“Here I am playing a gay role that might not be considered masculine in an outdated idea of what masculinity is.”

Cimino has long stressed that he wants to do his role justice as a straight actor, coming in the heat of wider discussions about non-LGBT+ actors playing queer roles.

A number of LGBT+ actors have weighed in on the topic, from those who adamantly say queer roles should go to queer stars to others who feel it relies more on the person’s own talent as an actor.

Nevertheless, the role of Victor, Cimino told PinkNews earlier this year, is one he said is an “honour” to play.

 

Related topics: Love Victor, Michael Cimino

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