Lee Pace responded to the backlash over his sexuality. Was he in the wrong?

Actor Lee Pace just reignited a dormant debate in Hollywood.

Should LGBTQ celebrities feel a responsibility to live out and proud? Or should they have the same right to privacy when it comes to their sexuality and identity as anyone else?  

The actor (known for "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "The Hobbit") once played a gay character on Broadway in "The Normal Heart," a story reflecting the pain and injustice of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.


He recently spoke with W magazine about his return to the stage in the revival of "Angels in America."

Pace said he thought it was important for LGBTQ actors to play LGBTQ characters — yet called interview questions about his sexuality "intrusive."

In the Feb. 28 article, Pace seems to fire back at the interviewer, Brian Moylan, who wrote:

"[Pace] seemed a bit flustered and surprised by the question. 'I've dated men. I've dated women,' he explained. 'I don't know why anyone would care. I'm an actor and I play roles. To be honest, I don't know what to say — I find your question intrusive.'"

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

Pace's response both raised eyebrows and rallied defenders.

To many, it felt hypocritical for Pace to note the importance of LGBTQ actors playing LGBTQ roles only to take offense to a journalist asking about his sexuality.

On the other hand, anyone — famous or not — is entitled to keep their sexuality private, Pace's defenders argued.  

Pace's remarks added to an ongoing and often knotty debate over actors' sexual orientations and their right to privacy.

It's tempting to brush aside the issue and argue that the best actor should always get the role, regardless of sexual orientation. But that attitude ignores widespread problems that systematically diminish the value of LGBTQ actors.

In an entertainment industry oversaturated with straight (and white) roles, it's still relatively uncommon that queer characters take center stage. When those characters do appear, Hollywood tends to give those parts to straight, cisgender actors — and then reward them mightily come award-show season.

On the flip side, actors are often penalized when they come out as LGBTQ because their casting potential seems to weaken to many executives who are hesitant to place a "riskier" bet on their hire. The industry has evolved immensely for the better since Ellen DeGeneres famously lost her sitcom — and, at the time, her entire career — after coming out as a lesbian in 1997. But anti-LGBTQ discrimination is still pervasive.

While the new film "Call Me By Your Name" has been celebrated by critics and LGBTQ fans alike, many also panned its casting of two straight men in the lead queer roles while gay and bisexual actors struggle to find work.

Stars of "Call Me By Your Name" Timothée Chalamet (left) and Armie Hammer (right) both identity as straight men. Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

In lieu of the backlash to his remarks, Pace took to Twitter to clarify how he feels on the issue.

"My privacy is important to me, so I protect it," he wrote. "When interviewed by the media, I keep the focus on my work."

But Pace does, however, understand the value in living openly and honestly as a queer man in the spotlight, he wrote.

Pace's remarks fell perfectly into the crosshairs of this thorny debate.

His hesitation to discuss his sexuality openly — whether it be because he's simply a private person or he fears his queerness could hurt his career (or both) — is understandable. But his call to cast openly LGBTQ actors in LGBTQ roles also recognizes the importance of representation in our media and why it's so critical ample opportunities be provided to queer entertainers.

Pace has been — and will continue to be — part of the solution.

"It's been important to me to portray queer characters with dignity for my entire career," he said. "Onward, with pride."

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In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

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Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

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Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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