August 22, 2013 at 10:28 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Actor comes out, declines invitation to attend Russian film festival

Wentworth Miller, Prison Break, gay news, Washington Blade

Wentworth Miller (Photo by watchwithkristin via Wikimedia Commons)

Actor Wentworth Miller on Wednesday came out as gay in a letter to organizers of a Russian film festival.

Miller, who appeared in the series “Prison Break” and two Mariah Carey videos, referred to his sexual orientation in his decision to decline an invitation to be the “guest of honor” at the St. Petersburg International Film Festival that will take place from September 13-22. He also cited Russia’s LGBT rights record in his letter to festival organizers.

“I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government,” Miller wrote in a letter that GLAAD released. “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.”

Miller’s announcement comes against the backdrop of growing outrage over Russia’s LGBT rights record ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics that will take place in Sochi, Russia, in February.

President Vladimir Putin in June signed a broadly-worded law that bans gay propaganda to minors. A second statute that prohibits same-sex couples and anyone from a country that allows gays and lesbians to tie the knot from adopting Russian children took effect last month.

A 2012 law requires organizations that receive funding from outside Russia to register as “foreign agents.”

Russian chess champion Gary Kasparov and playwright Harvey Fierstein are among those who have called for a boycott of the Sochi games. Author Dan Savage, LGBT rights advocate Cleve Jones and others have called for a boycott of Russian vodka.

Gay Olympic diver Greg Louganis, who was unable to compete in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow because then-President Jimmy Carter boycotted them over the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan the year before, is among those who feel the U.S. should compete in Sochi. President Obama, retired tennis champion Martina Navratilova and a number of LGBT advocacy groups also oppose an Olympic boycott.

Andy Cohen last week told E! News he turned down a request to co-host the 2013 Miss Universe pageant that will take place in Moscow in November over concerns about Russia’s LGBT rights record.

“Wentworth’s bold show of support sends a powerful message to LGBT Russians, who are facing extreme violence and persecution: you are not alone,” GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz said. “As people from across the globe continue to speak out against Russia’s horrific law, more celebrities and corporations should follow his courageous lead in openly condemning Russia’s anti-LGBT law.”

“We really wanted Wentworth Miller to come to our festival and we are very upset by his refusal,” a festival spokesperson told the Washington Blade on Wednesday. “It is his choice that deserves respect.”

The spokesperson added the festival is “really sad that politics may influence… cinematography.”

“Our festival is about art, not about politics,” the spokesperson told the Blade.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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