Wentworth Miller, the 41-year-old screenwriter and actor known for his role as Michael Scofield in Fox’s series “Prison Break,” revealed that he is gay in an open letter to the director of the St. Petersburg International Film Festival on Wednesday. Miller wrote the letter declining an invitation to attend the festival, citing discrimination against gay men and lesbians in Russia.
Miller wrote his letter amid widespread criticism of the Russian government‘s policies toward gays in advance of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi. Recent legislation prohibits the dissemination of gay “propaganda” to people under 18. Foreigners can be detained for up to two weeks under the law. As a result, “the field of play at the 2014 Sochi Olympics stands to become politically charged terrain in which rainbows and kisses could be construed as cause for arrest,” writes Liz Clarke.
Another law, which Russian President Vladimir Putin signed in July, bars citizens of any country in which gay marriage is legal from adopting Russian children. Mob violence and police brutality against protesters for gay rights led North American gay bars to boycott Russian vodka earlier this summer.
The advocacy group GLAAD posted Miller’s letter on its Web site. Here is what he had to say:
Dear Ms. Averbakh:
Thank you for your kind invitation. As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes.
However, as a gay man, I must decline.
I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government. 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.
Perhaps, when and if circumstances improve, I’ll be free to make a different choice.
Although the International Olympic Committee has expressed concern about Russia’s laws, a boycott is unlikely, writes Max Fisher.