Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

The Emmy-nominated star’s role on TV’s popular Modern Family has given him the opportunity to reshape public perception of same-sex relationships and their families. Ferguson plays Mitchell Pritchett, an uptight gay lawyer raising an adopted Asian-American baby with his excitable, over-the-top partner, Cameron.

At left: Ferguson with fiancé Justin Mikita.

In a recent Advocate magazine interview, he said, “I feel like there are a lot of people who still aren’t comfortable with gay characters on television, but what I admire about our show is that it has a plethora of characters for people to attach to, and slowly those people are becoming attached to Mitchell and Cam...It’s kind of like a Trojan horse. We sneak into a lot of people’s living rooms when they aren’t expecting it and maybe change some minds through the back door.

Mitchell is basically me, so when people tell me I’m stereotypical and cliché in that role, then Jesse Tyler Ferguson is stereotypical and cliché, because I’m basically doing no acting at all.”

Nonetheless, his performance as Mitchell has earned him three consecutive Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Two weeks ago the series was picked up for a fifth season.

Ferguson has big plans for the summer. He and fiancé Justin Mikita, a lawyer, will be married in New York in July. They met in a gym, where Justin recognized Jesse and came over to say he enjoyed Jesse’s portrayal of Mitchell on the hit television show. They started dating several months later and became engaged eight months ago. At about the same time the couple launched Tie the Knot, which sells custom bow ties and donates all proceeds to various organizations fighting for marriage equality and LGBT civil rights in general.

Says Ferguson, “Justin came up with the idea. I’ve definitely become more of an advocate, philanthropist, and do-gooder because of him. He has really ignited the civil rights passion within me.”

The couple says they would have loved to have gotten married in California, which is where they reside, but, “unfortunately it’s not legal there right now. We’re spending a lot of money on the wedding, and that’s money California is not getting. But congratulations to New York!”

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