Michael Cimino, the star of Hulu's Love, Victor, opened up to Attitude UK and revealed that since taking the lead in the Love, Simon spinoff series, he'd received death threats just for playing a gay character on TV. Cimino, who is straight, plays the main character Victor in the series and takes his role as an LGBTQIA ally seriously. "I got some homophobic comments — I kind of expected that to happen. I didn’t expect it from my own family members, though," Cimino explained. "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."
Cimino believes that a lot of the hate towards the show and the LGBTQIA community at large stems from ignorance. "There's nothing wrong with being gay," he explained. "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.'" Cimino explains that his work on Love, Victor, which just dropped its second season on Hulu, has also helped him change some previously closed minds. "I have changed opinions," Cimino revealed. "I had some friends who are religious and they’ve changed their perspective on things."
Cimino also discussed that while Hollywood is often painted as progressive, he faced a lot of pushback from inside the industry over taking a role as a gay high school student. "I’ve been advised that you shouldn’t play gay roles, especially [for] your first big role. '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,'" Cimino relays. "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 Here I am playing a gay role that might not be considered masculine in an outdated idea of what masculinity is."
According to Cimino, a lot of the hate that he has faced has come from within the LGBTQIA community, where many don't think that straight actors should take on gay roles. "I’ve definitely had some criticism from the LGBT community for being in the role… I’ve had death threats, which is horrible," Cimino said. "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."
Cimino explained to Attitude that he doesn't want to fall into that trap of convenience. "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?" Cimino asked. "It’s an honor to play Victor, and a big responsibility. I went in with the pure intent to represent that correctly. I held myself to a really high standard to make sure everyone going through this story felt represented by the show."