Anne H. Loves The Gays

Hello, readers! Editor Andrew here! I felt it best to introduce this interview in first person, because I’ve known this particular subject for – well, longer than I care to mention. And I’m sure Annie “Anne” Hathaway wouldn’t want you to know that we met dangerously close to a dumpster. The horror! (But, seriously, she was moving into her dorm at college when I stumbled by and thrust myself upon her, the way I start all my serious relationships.)

Anyway, Hathaway’s currently in Los Angeles, where she’ll receive the Human Rights Campaign’s Ally Award. Rumor has it HRC has a hit out on me, so I unfortunately wasn’t able attend this evening’s festivities. Luckily, Hathaway made some time yesterday to have a chat with me, to whom she’s always been quite the ally.

We touched on some predictable topics, but I also threw her for a loop with some curve balls. For example, “Should Sally Kern be censured?” and “Does Hollywood condone the closet?”

Hathaway handled herself like a pro, of course and I offer Annie many thanks for being a friend. We’ve traveled down that road and back again. Her heart is true. She’s a pal and a confidant. And if Annie Hathaway threw a party, invited everyone she knew, you would see that the biggest gift would be from me. And the card attached would say, “Thank you for being a friend.”

Now that I’ve proven my gayness by quoting the Golden Girls theme, dive into that there jump and read what Hathaway had to say for her pretty self…

[Image by Jeremy Kost]

Andrew Belonsky: So, Ms. H, you are in Los Angeles now to receive the HRC Ally Award?

Anne Hathaway: Yes.

AB: What makes you a gay ally?

AH: Um, oh gosh. I think because I make no secret of my beliefs – I don’t think love is a political thing. I don’t think marriage is something in which the government should have any say. I think that’s primarily the reason, but also because I love and have total acceptance of the gay community. And, like I said, I’ve never kept that a secret.

AB: Do you think that celebrities really influence public opinion?

AH: I don’t think celebrities influence public opinion, but I do think celebrities influence what people are talking about. You know, if you are well known and you have an interest in something, you can at least bring it to other people’s attention. To look at a completely unrelated thing, The OC – in that period, Death Cab for Cutie went from being an underground thing to this widely popular band amongst a younger generation. That show wasn’t telling them to like it, it was just saying, “Here’s music that we like”. Maybe it’s not an influence on public opinion, but I do think celebrity endorsement does count for something.

AB: Do you feel like you always have to monitor what you’re saying?

AH: Um, not if I really believe in something, but I do edit things! I was just having a conversation with [Get Smart co-star] Steve Carell about this the other day – about how when we speak in interviews, we try to imagine what it’s going to look like in print. Sometimes that keeps you from being as spontaneous and as free as you might like. In my case, it curbs my sense of humor, because a lot of times things that I say are a little sarcastic and that doesn’t really come out well in print! But I do always say what I mean, but occasionally I’ll avoid talking about something if I want to keep it private.

AB: Do you remember when you first knew about gay people and what “gay” was?

AH: Oh, yes. Well, the first people to come visit my mom in the hospital after I was born were her friends, Sydney and Jack and – well, at that point they had been in a committed relationship for a few years, now they’ve been in a relationship I think for over thirty years – so they were family friends. When my parents explained what sex was to me, I didn’t really – it didn’t occur to me to ask, “Well, what about other people?” But then I think as I got older, maybe around five and six, I began to say, “Sidney and Jack kiss. How does that factor in?” And my parents said, “Well, sometimes men love men and women love women and sometimes they love both,” so there was definitely an awareness of it, but my parents had such a relaxed, low-key and definitely accepting attitude, I never realized that it was anything controversial.

AB: When did you learn that it was controversial?

AH: I think probably around middle school, when people start throwing around things like “Gay,” or “You’re so gay” or “You’re a faggot.” And I remember not understanding what they were trying to say by that and being weirded out by people who would say things like that. I would always speak up and people would usually tell me to “lighten up,” but I still don’t think that’s the right attitude to take.
[As the star of Ella Enchanted, Annie had the distinct pleasure of singing a fairy tale rendition of Queen’s “Somebody To Love.” I know she’d kill me for posting that footage, but this track complements the second part of this interview…]
AB: I know church is important to you, so when you were going to church as a child, did it ever come up?

AH: No, I don’t actually remember it coming up in sermons. My family’s attitude was that we go to church to learn how to love, to learn about the way God wants us to love and it’s not for us to put limits on that, but I don’t particularly remember a sermon. I have on occasion spoken with religious figures about it and let them know that I disagree.

AB: Let’s talk about Sally Kern – I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the name, but Kern burst onto the scene last week when Victory Fund published some secretly taped audio of her comparing gays to terrorists and saying we were far more dangerous to America than Al Qaeda.

AH: Well, that’s just ridiculous. I think that’s just sad.

AB: Do you think that an elected official who makes those statements, even if in private, should be publicly censured or asked to resign?

AH: I think if she was elected saying that she believes in something else and was making campaign promises about something else, she should certainly be questioned about it, but that’s a tough question. It’s her opinion. It’s her free speech. Yes, I disagree with it, but I don’t know that you can censure someone for speaking their mind no matter how much you completely disagree with it. I think when you get into censorship and free speech issues, its a slippery slope and unfortunately – you know, the first amendment can be amazing in so many ways, but also it can cause you to eat a lot of crow from people with whom you disagree.

AB: It’s interesting to me, because obviously she was elected democratically. Hypothetically speaking, say all of her constituents really believe this, they really believe that gays are demon spawn, and they decide to vote for gay marriage. They vote to pass legislation to define marriage as a man and a woman. This is something that I’ve been tackling with for many years – obviously you can’t control how people are going to vote and they often vote for illiberal policies, like restricting marriage. That can be a big flaw in democracy.

AH: Absolutely. One of things about democracy is that it’s defined, created and controlled by human beings and we’re fallible. But that’s – and I agree with you, it’s hard to accept that a lot of the abhorrent things that people do are legally protected, but at the same time, that’s where freedom of speech comes in, that’s where freedom of protest – there’s that system of checks and balances to keep a lot of that under control. And obviously civil disobedience is very important, too.

AB: Rupert Everett a few months ago made some comments about how Hollywood still works against people’s sexuality. Do you get that impression that Hollywood condones the closet?

AH: Since I’m not a gay person, I don’t really know the pressure that people must be under. I’d like to think that we’re getting to a place where can be very honest and open about who you are and how you love. I think it’s not necessarily Hollywood that encourages people to go into the closet – I don’t even know how to answer this question! Since I’m not a gay person and since I’ve never felt any pressure in that respect, I don’t think that I’m qualified to answer that question.

AB: You know, it may not even be Hollywood. It may just be what people perceive – what people project the American perception to be. You know, if I’m a young actor on Gossip Girl and I’m just coming up and I don’t know how the public will react to my gay ways, I can understand why that would instill fear in somebody. I suppose.

AH: Ideally we could all be ourselves and love the way we love. But, quite frankly, actors being closeted is not as simple as, “I don’t want anyone to know, because I’m ashamed” or “I’ll never be famous.” I don’t think it’s as simple as that. It’s really hard to put yourself out there. It’s really hard to be comfortable with the idea that people won’t accept you and, in fact, it’s really nobody’s business is you don’t want to tell anyone about your sexuality. Not that you should have to hide it, but if you want that to be a private part of your life – gay, straight, whatever. I can imagine it must be really hard to realize that people, without knowing you, just because of their own prejudices, will hate you. I don’t judge the individual, but I’d like to see us get to the place as a society where we can just love each other and just be cool with each other.

AB: “Peace!” You’re such a hippie.

AH: It is about peace!