Wilson Cruz has had more than a just a so-called life.
He’s been a change maker, a survivor and a role model to a generation of gay men, particularly gay men of color, who needed empowerment and a strong voice. He also happens to be one of the busiest out gay actors in Hollywood.
He has starred in “My So Called Life,” (for which he was awarded a special GLAAD Media Award in 1995), is currently starring in the new“Star Trek: Discovery,” and this year has appeared in “Fridays,” “13 Reasons Why,” “Doubt,” “After Louie,” and “Shameless.
You may remember Wilson as Ricky Vasquez on “Noah’s Arc,” “ER,” “Party of Five,” and even “Ally McBeal.”
And who could forget how, in 1998, Los Angeles went wild for his Center Theatre Group /Ahmanson Theatre performance in “Rent,” for which he was awarded the Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Featured Actor in a Musical.
Success has kept him busy.
Not to say that it’s always been easy, however. After coming out to his family in 1993, his father kicked him out of the house and he was homeless and lived on the streets for a time.
“My Puerto Rican family had to overcome a lot of that machismo Latino men have. My dad had the hardest struggle with me being gay. But he had no choice. My brother is gay, too. Today my family is amazing.”
The Point Foundation, an agency that seeks to empower LGBTQ students in achieving their full academic and leadership potential, will honor Cruz with the Point Courage Award.
He’s quick to point out racism and how it affects not only LGBT reality but the world as a whole. Expect him to have a few things to say about the U.S. response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria when he accepts his latest accolade.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?I came out in 1993 and the hardest person to come out to was my father — most definitely. But he has two gay sons and now he’s amazing!
Who’s your LGBT hero?James Baldwin. He used his art in his politics and vice versa. I loved “Giovanni’s Room” …so beautiful and succinct, the first gay love story that I read.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?I’ve hung out in all of ‘em. I don’t know!
Describe your dream wedding.A wedding that happens! I’m so very single; if one happened it would be a dream.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?White supremacy. That’s it.
What historical outcome would you change?History is unfolding in Puerto Rico and I ache to fix it. I would make sure Irma and Maria never existed.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?Me on “Star Trek,” of course. Who’d have thought?
On what do you insist?I insist on not having to ask permission to be in any room. Walk in the room like you belong there because you do.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?“Tonight on Star Trek Discovery, meet my boo, Lt. Stamets ( Anthony Rapp ) as Discovery’s epic journey continues!” I have to promote my new self!
If your life were a book, what would the title be?“My Soul-called Life”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?Nothing. I wouldn’t change my sexual orientation.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?I believe in the power of love and I believe we ARE all love and are all connected.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?Don’t follow the money. Don’t pander to the biggest donor. Work for all of us. Let the money follow you.
What would you walk across hot coals for?My mother.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?That all gay men are white. That’s mostly all we see on TV, statistically speaking.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?“Weekend,” made by the same team as “Looking.” Even though it was two white guys. Or, “Paris is Burning.” Timeless. Can I do two?
What’s the most overrated social custom?Waiting for everyone to be served at the table before we can eat. I wouldn’t make you wait!
What trophy or prize do you most covet?Doesn’t every actor want an Oscar? I mean go for the big one!
What do you wish you’d known at 18?I wish I had as much faith in the fact that there is something bigger than me guiding me at all times. I spent a lot of time worrying when I could have let go a little more.
Why Los Angeles?I keep getting called back here. I’ve moved to New York a couple of times and it keeps calling me back. I’ve resisted but this is home. West Hollywood is home.