I’ve returned time and again to praising Daniel Radcliffe for his seeming comfort with gay questions. It must be exhausting for a straight celebrity to have to dispel implied and explicit gay rumors over and over, but what really lifts the former Harry Potter star above the more defensively “straight and nothing against gays“ crowd, is that he has used his position to argue, forcefully and repeatedly for equal rights. Others might have feared that taking such a public stand on a controversial issue could not only alienate his fan base but also add fuel to those persistent gay rumors, but Radcliffe doesn’t seem to care about any of that.
Of course, he’s from the UK, where speaking out on these issues aren’t as controversial as it once was, but I can still imagine his American agent being none too pleased. Yet here he is again, on the cover of British gay magazine Attitude‘s Youth Issue, not only looking smashing as always, but engaging on the gay issues even further than anyone could have asked.
Now that he has put the question of his own sexual preferences to rest – the hilarious “gay face” comment in the infamous 2010 MTV interview I wrote about at the time pretty much should have settled that – he has turned his attention to the issue of marriage. And true to form, he’s for it. It’s been an issue in the UK too, as it continues to be in the US, and DanRad instinctively understands that this is a rights issue, not a question of religion or other red herrings. As an atheist, it warms my heart to see that he calls himself a “militant atheist” as well, but he’s careful not to look down on religious people, even sharing a little bit about his (secular) Jewish upbringing and how it has, ahem, marked him.
When I put him forward as a future prime minister after a Daily Beast interview back in 2009, it was based on the political sentiments he shared. He criticized the Labour Party for being insufficently left, a view I heartily shared. However, with the antiquated voting system in Britain, he disappointed me when he later came out as a supporter of the Liberal Democrats in an Attitude interview. If this had been 2005 and the Brits had had the chance to elect their parliament on a proportional basis, I confess I might have entertained the throught myself – this was the Tony Blair Iraq-war supporting, civil liberties-gutting New Labour going to the polls, mind you – but in 2010? Nah. The Lib Dems could not explain before the election if they would back a Labour or a Conservative government. Luckily, both he and Labour are now owning up to past sins. For Radcliffe this doesn’t just mean talking openly about the alcoholism of his late teen years and early twenties, but also shifting his allegiance from the Lib Dems – which, it should be noted for American readers, is essentially a centrist party currently in a coalition with a much larger Conservative Party – to Labour. And again, his political analysis is to my liking: He calls Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, Conservative prime minister David Cameron’s ‘whipping boy’, excoriates him over broken promises on taxes and education, and, sounding like a genuine Occu-Potter, calls for higher taxes on wealthy people like himself. Granted, I think it’s a stretch when he calls the new Labour leader Ed Miliband ‘genuinely left-wing’, but if that’s what’s he wants to hear from him, that makes two of us.
Politics aside, though, as always he also shows himself as a really nice, down-to-earth guy. He confesses to having a ‘darker side’, which only humanizes him to me, although it would have been so much easier for all of us if he just put on a happy face and declared himself invincible. Also, he’s perfectly fine with being a lust-object to gay men. I am often annoyed when gay mags try to make gay issues the be-all-end-all of their star interviews, but in this new Radcliffe piece, the approach really pays off. Speaking about whether it bothers him that guys might consider him wank fodder (my term, not his), he says:
It’s fine if people want to make me the subject of their sexual fantasies – good luck to them, fantastic. I’m honoured to be in their dreams. (…) [I]t’s very flattering and not something to object to at all. The other day, my girlfriend Rosie asked me, “Do you find it weird that some of your gay mates think about you sexually?” I’ve never really thought about it but I don’t care – if they want to it’s fine (…)
It’s close to being the perfect answer, really. Not only does he get in a reference to his girlfriend – he’s straight, you see – but, I mean, “I’m honoured to be in their dreams”? Never mind the kinky nature of those dreams; that’s damn near poetic.
The question of what constitutes sexiness has been a recurring one on this blog. How much should brain points count? The jury’s still out on that one, but with every bit of his public persona, Daniel Radcliffe is inching closer to the perfect blend between physical and intellectual attraction.
Now that his politics finally matches up with his values, he’d get my vote. For anything.