Cory Monteith And Other Allies Who’ve Gone Too Soon

cory-monteith-gleeWith the news of Cory Monteith’s cause of death, we have another reason to be sad for the young actor’s too brief life and career. We’ve also lost an ally for gay civil rights.

Before joining the cast of Glee in 2009, the Calgary native knew nothing in particular about gay folks, or musical theater. But he would learn to sing and dance, and go on to become a vocal proponent for gay rights and marriage equality, appearing at the GLAAD Awards, the HRC National Dinner with girlfriend and castmates Lea Michelle, Chris Colfer and Amber Riley, and adding his voice to the Straight But Not Narrow campaign in 2011, an effort to encourage young straight guys to show support for young gay guys. He spoke eloquently in 2012 about his own gay rights education: “Being aligned with Glee has absolutely made me more aware of it. It’s one of the defining challenges at this point in our human evolution. This is the equivalent human rights struggle for our generation. We’re going to look back 50 years from now and be shocked that this is what we’re having to deal with.”

Following, some other gay rights allies, silenced too young.



Kurt Cobain, 1967-1994

Cobain was outspoken in his support of gay rights. In one of his journals, he wrote: “I am not gay, although I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes.” In Nirvana’s “All Apologies” he sings the sentiment one step further: “Everyone is gay.”


River Phoenix, 1970-1993

The actor and musician was a thoughtful advocate for all kinds of causes, and his portrayal of street kid Mike in Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, opposite Keanu Reeves, was a brave choice back in 1991. While the film and Phoenix both became gay iconography, the young actor seemed ambivalent: “People, to some degree, do not want to let go of something you portray.”


Heath Ledger, 1979-2008

Like Phoenix, Ledger broke ground portraying a gay lead character, Ennis Del Mar, in Brokeback Mountain. While not vocal in his political views, the fact that the up and coming actor accepted the role was hailed as brave; his performance was universally affecting. Ten years earlier, Ledger was given the choice of two roles in the Australian TV series Sweat. He chose the gay guy. Ledger and costar Jake Gyllenhaal were inducted into the Advocate Hall of Fame in 2006.


Natasha Richardson, 1963-2009

Richardson was a member of the Redgrave acting dynasty and an advocate for people with HIV/AIDS. Her mother was Vanessa Redgrave; her father, Academy Award-winning director Tony Richardson, died of AIDS in 1991. Natasha worked with AIDS organizations here and in the UK, including Bailey House, God’s Love We Deliver, and Mothers’ Voices in the US and Aids Crisis Trust and National Aids Trust, for which she was an ambassador, in the UK. She received amfAR’s Award of Courage in November 2000.


Anna Nicole Smith, 1967-2007

The actress, Playboy model, and widow of 89 year-old oil billionaire J. Howard Marshall was vocal in her support of gay causes, appearing in the LA Pride Parade and introducing America to flamboyant West Hollywood interior designer Bobby Trendy on her self-titled reality show on E! in 2002. And she was fierce!


John Ritter, 1948-2003

As a straight man playing a straight man playing a sympathetic gay character on Three’s Company, Ritter was an gay rights proponent by default, but his widow Amy Yasbeck says his advocacy extended into his personal life: “When Tinky Winky was accused of being gay, John went out and bought two Tinkys. It was adorable. He supported Tinky’s lifestyle like nobody’s business. John was very liberal when it came to Tinky Winky and anybody’s lifestyle.”

 Actor Patrick Swayze is shown in an undated publicity photograph

Patrick Swayze, 1952-2009

In 1995, Swayze starred in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, and became a gay rights believer. “It was interesting to go from a narrow minded, limited heterosexual point of view into a much more open-minded point of view… For me, [To Wong Foo is] a drag queen movie that reinstates family values.”


Whitney Houston, 1963-2012

In 2000, gay icon Whitney Houston sat down with Out magazine for her first “gay interview,” a fascinating and very candid session revealing Houston to have a history with, and appreciation for, gay people as audience, friends and colleagues. But she made it clear, if you were wondering: she wasn’t gay. “I love everybody. If I was gay, I would be proud to tell you.”


Judy Garland, 1922-1969

A gay ally in death perhaps even more than while she was living, Garland’s exit from the stage in 1969 at the too-young age of 47 helped inspire the Stonewall Riots, a singular turning point in the fight for gay rights.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #amberriley #amywinehouse #annanicolesmith stories and more


  • Snapper59

    If your criteria is being gay friendly, I would have replaced some of your choices with the late Gilda Radner and Madeline Kahn. Madeline Kahn especially seems a more obvious choice than Whitney Houston or John Ritter as she was AIDS fundraising and hosting benefits since the 1980s.

  • adam madam

    is our community so desperate for support we’ll take it from heroin addicts? isn’t there someone out there, quietly working for community activism and individual rights, and suffering for it, who deserves more attention than a famous, dead junky? don’t we already have enough of a substance-abuse image problem? sorry he’s gone, but i’m just not gonna miss this guy.

  • Lefty

    @adam madam: No one cares about your image problem. This is a real person who’s just died.

  • Polaro

    @Lefty: Always someone to rain on the parade…

  • Polaro

    @Snapper59: Those are great adds to the list, besides being hysterically funny, talented ladies.

  • Homophile

    @adam madam:

    He deserves more attention than you.

  • Raine

    My heart & goes out to his family and true friends. But as some of you know, he had a past and with other guys, especially when he was struggling actor, younger addict. He was taken in by a lot of Director DeCoteau’s circles, quiet relations with other fellow actors too. So he was an ally to our community. I miss his acting in Season 1 of that show that made him most known. Addiction is a crazy disease; you think it’s over but it’s a lifelong maintenance like any other disease. If not handled with the right healthy ppl, more destruction and unfortunate death.

  • Raine

    *other fellow male actors. So he was an ally to a community he was already technically a part of.

  • TampaBayTed

    @Raine: Yes Raine, addiction is a crazy disease. Years ago when I was interning at a prestigious clinic, a fellow intern who had it all going for him died of a heroin overdose in a sleazy hotel in Tijuana. He was the golden boy, with the looks of Adonis,a body by God, the intelligence of an Einstein, and the people skills of a Bill Clinton. He had it all and it was gone over a weekend jaunt in a Mexican border town. None of his friends, family, colleagues, or medical professors knew of his addiction. Yes, addiction is a fierce master.

  • Steve

    Lets not forget Stephen Gately

  • MickeyP.

    OMG! Where is Liz Taylor,in this story? How can you possibly do a story like this,without Liz?

  • duke4172

    Everyone needs to remember that Cory was a human being and being such he was inclined to make mistakes it is part of our genetic makeup! Everyone makes mistakes and when we do there are consequences, Everyone needs to remember that Cory was also a son, brother and friend to many and as we speak his family who is in shock and morning his loss are planning a memorial for him let’s offer them our prayers to guide them through this trying time and leave the criticism to another subject! Drug abuse is nothing but a disease that some people are able to conquer and others take a bit longer but with the support of their family and friends it is a disease that they can and will conquer!

    Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

    Rest in peace Cory!

  • starwatcher

    durggies know the risk, I do not feel one bit sorry for them. Sad for their loved ones, left behind to pick up the pieces

Comments are closed.