Why Neil Patrick Harris is so important to the gay community

Posted by John Mitchell on popeater.com:

"Over the weekend, Neil Patrick Harris and his partner of six years, actor David Burtka, announced that they will welcome twins into their family this fall. "So, get this: David and I are expecting twins this fall. We're super excited/nervous/thrilled. Hoping the press can respect our privacy..." Harris tweeted shortly after E! Online broke the news.

"When the twins arrive, Harris and Burtka will become the highest-profile gay parents in the country. For the gay community, this is a very good thing. Harris has defied the odds since coming out of the closet; his career has never been better, and by all accounts he is arguably among the more universally-beloved actors working today. People love NPH. He and Burtka exude a normalcy uncommon in media representations of gay men, and with their committed relationship and career successes, they continue to tear down the stereotypes that haunt the gay community and keep GLBT persons from enjoying the same rights and freedoms as their straight allies.

"'For over two decades, Americans have followed Neil Patrick Harris' journey from child star to popular leading man. Now, many will look on as he and his partner build a family together,' Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance of Defamation (GLAAD) tells PopEater. 'As more and more loving and committed gay and lesbian couples start families together, it is important to see stories like Neil's that reflect what most fair-minded Americans already know: gay people and our families are no different than them. For many, Neil is the first gay person they've seen come out, fall in love and become a dad, and his story is helping Americans understand that gay people deserve the same opportunity to take care of our families and loved ones.'

"Harris has said often that he strives to be an example of normalcy; that while he may not be out marching in gay pride parades or participating in political rallies, he hopes that by living his life openly he can be an advocate by example. 'I love Neil Patrick Harris and think the confidence with which he conducts himself has challenged prejudices and helped pave the way for other gay entertainers, including Jesse Tyler Fergusson and Cheyenne Jackson,' says Aaron Hicklin, editor-in-chief of OUT magazine.

"He is aware of his celebrity and its impact, and rather than make his sexuality central to his public persona, Harris has keenly made it just another part of who he is. He isn't 'Neil Patrick Harris: Gay Actor,' he's 'Neil Patrick Harris: An actor who happens to be gay among many other things.'

... "According to the Pew Research Center, simply knowing a gay person makes an individual more than twice as likely to support gay rights causes. After decades in the spotlight, we all know and love NPH. Now, as he embarks on this latest journey in his private life, we're about to be introduced to yet another side of him. And at this time, with battles over the freedom to marry and Don't Ask, Don't Tell raging, GLBT advocates couldn't ask for a better person to come forward as the face of the modern American gay family."

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