At tonight’s celebration of 25 years of The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), AfterEllen.com was on the red carpet and talked for a few minutes with actress Amber Heard (The Stepfather, The Joneses, Pineapple Express), who spoke openly (and happily) about her choice to come out and, as she eloquently said, not be “a part of the problem” by staying in the closet. Heard, who was joined by her partner, Tasya van Ree, was also clearly honored to have the privilege of presenting the Founder’s Award to GLAAD/LA Founder and First Executive Director Richard Jennings during the event, held at Harmony Gold in Los Angeles.
AfterEllen.com: What does it mean to you to be a part of this event tonight?
Amber Heard: I’m honored to be a part of GLAAD. I’ve long been a fan and long wanted to be a part of an organization as powerful, as influential and as important as GLAAD. I am acutely aware of the role that the media plays in influencing public opinion and influencing society, and with that awareness comes the burden of responsibility.
Amber Heard at the GLAAD 25th Anniversary event in Los Angeles
I think when I became aware of my role in the media, I had to ask myself an important question “Am I part of the problem?” And I think that when millions and millions of hard-working, tax paying Americans are denied their rights and denied their equality you have to ask yourself what are the factors that are an epidemic problem and that’s what this is. Injustice can never be stood for. It always must be fought against and I just was sick of it being a problem. Because I’m in the media I was aware of it and I luckily was introduced to GLAAD and am honored that they wanted me to be a part of tonight because it is such an important organization. I am so impressed with all the important work that they are doing and I couldn’t see a more important cause to be aligned with.
AE: The media is obsessed with labels and labeling people. As an out actress, is that something that you’re concerned about or is it something you’re moving past because of GLAAD?
AH: It’s hard. I think GLAAD is one of the many reasons that I, as a 24-year-old, can come out. I think that organizations like GLAAD make that possible because if it weren’t for opinions being changed, people being influenced, people being engaged to do the right thing, then there would be no prerogative for anyone to come out. Like I said, I can’t be a part of the problem. I hate the idea of a label just as much as anyone else but I’m with who I’m with, I love who I love and I’m if not a better actress than I was yesterday and my personal life should have no effect on that. I think that the injustice of people staying in the closet is more than I can bear with a clear conscience and I couldn’t sleep at night if I was a part of that problem, if I was part of the lies.
I personally think that if you deny something or if you hide something you’re inadvertently admitting it’s wrong. I don’t feel like I’m wrong. I don’t feel like millions of people are wrong because they love who they love or they were born how they were born. I’m proud to be on the right side of history and I can do nothing more than encourage people to look at their lives and ask “What side of history am I on? Am I doing the right thing or am I doing the wrong thing?” I look at speeches by Martin Luther King and I cry when I read the story of Rosa Parks at the back of the bus, and I can’t help but think if I was in that era what side of history would I be on? Would I be marching on the side of equality or would I be one of these horrible people spreading hate and bigotry?
Heard with Tasya van Ree at the GLAAD 25th Anniversary event in Los Angeles
It’s clear from a person that was born in the ’80s to decide what part of history they’d be on. It’s clear for someone like myself that’s fairly educated and fairly well-rounded and fairly enlightened to be able to say “I would never be on this side of bigots and hatred. I would never be on that side!” But then we have this situation here in my generation, where tons of young people haven’t woken up to the call that this is our generation’s civil rights movement. This is the forefront of human rights. You have to ask yourself what side are you going to be on and if we’re too scared to come out and say who we are, we’ll never get anywhere.
AE: It’s great to see you here with your partner. It’s great that you can do that and you don’t have to be here with a beard!
AH: She’s so beautiful. I mean, you’d have to be crazy not to want to go out with her!
Amber Heard can next be seen in Drive Angry: 3D and The Ward.