Actor and screenwriter Wentworth Miller, star of the Fox hit Prison Break, took a personal stand against Russia's anti-gay crackdown Wednesday in a letter that also publicly revealed for the first time he is gay.
In response to an invitation to appear as guest of honor at next month's St. Petersburg International Film Festival, Miller stated that "as a gay man, I must decline." The 41-year-old went on to criticize the Russian government for its "current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women," saying that he was "deeply troubled" by it.
"I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly," he said.
Miller's voice is just one in a growing chorus of critics to speak out against Russia for its series of recently enacted anti-gay laws, the most contentious of which bans "propaganda of a nontraditional sexual relation among minors." Protests and demands for boycotting Russian commodities have swept cities worldwide, as reports of escalating violence against LGBT Russians continue to unfold. The laws also raise concerns for the safety and security of the thousands heading to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games, which many are also calling on others to boycott.
Beyond the Olympics, Russia's laws also raise questions for other events set to be held in the country, such as the IIHF World Championship in 2016, and this year's Miss Universe pageant, which TV host Andy Cohen said last week said he would not be co-hosting. "[I] didn't feel right as a gay man stepping in Russia," said Cohen to E! News.
Here is Wentworth Miller's full letter to the St. Petersburg International Film Festival, as posted on GLAAD's website:
August 21, 2013Re: St. Petersburg International Film Festival / "Guest of Honor" InvitationDear Ms. Averbakh:Thank you for your kind invitation. As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes.However, as a gay man, I must decline.I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government. The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.Perhaps, when and if circumstances improve, I'll be free to make a different choice.Until then.Wentworth MillerMember, HRCMember, GLAADMember, The ManKind Project
Following the news, Miller received a flood of mostly congratulatory messages on Twitter. (There were also a lot of disappointed female fans who took to Twitter to express their grief.)
Wentworth Miller came out. Mazel Tov! http://t.co/1pWrbDlMrq— Guy Branum (@guybranum) August 21, 2013
Good on you Wentworth! http://t.co/b7NRchWyoC— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) August 21, 2013
#PrisonBreak's Wentworth Miller comes out as gay, declines invitation to Russian film festival: http://t.co/14krwrCpUb. Thank you Wentworth!— NOH8 Campaign (@NOH8Campaign) August 21, 2013
Big salute to @Miller_Went . Very courageous. Lets not forget the man is still first & foremost a great actor/writer & an honorable man.— Prison Break (@Prison_Break_) August 22, 2013
Wentworth Miller from Prison Break came out of the closet, but only after his brother broke into the closet to help him escape.— Comedy Central (@ComedyCentral) August 22, 2013