GLAAD, the powerful gay rights advocacy group, will honor two-time Oscar winner Robert de Niro at its May 14 gala in New York with its “Excellence in Media Award” for his positive portrayals of gay characters on the screen.
The Raging Bull and Godfather star is also a prominent supporter of President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
He told the Daily Beast a year ago: “Hopefully it will be her, yes … I think that she’s paid her dues. There are going to be no surprises, and she has earned the right to be president and the head of the country at this point. It’s that simple. And she’s a woman, which is very important because her take on things may be what we need right now.”
Though actors are not expected to endorse the political views of the characters they portray, GLAAD is singling De Niro out, partly on the basis of his conscious choice to tell the stories of gay people to a wider audience — including his father, the focus of De Niro’s 2014 HBO documentary, Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr.
“Through his work honoring the memory of his openly gay father, Robert De Niro has not only sent a message of acceptance to LGBT people, but also educated audiences of the harms of anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement provided to the Hollywood Reporter.
Critics of Hollywood note that the entertainment industry has consciously used film and television to advocate for gay causes for decades, though gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults are a tiny fraction of the population.
In 2011, De Niro blasted Donald Trump for questioning Obama’s birth: “It’s like a big hustle. It’s like being a car salesman. Don’t go out there and say things unless you can back them up. How dare you? That’s awful to do. To just go out and speak and say these terrible things? Unless you just wanna get over and get the job. It’s crazy.