Matthew McConaughey: No Shirt, No Problem

Magic Mike’s Matthew McConaughey strips down the gay community’s early enthusiasm for the film, his own dirty dance number, and why he’s always stood up for the underdog.

BY Brandon Voss

May 16 2012 4:00 AM ET

Matthew McConaughey BOYS ON THE SIDE X400 | ADVOCATE.COMAt what point did you become aware of your gay audience?
I know exactly when. It was about 1995, I go into a coffee shop on Santa Monica Boulevard, and the guy behind the counter has a picture of me from Boys on the Side (pictured) taped to the tip jar. Is that not classic? I gave that guy a big tip.

What does that support mean to you?
It’s much appreciated. You know, I have some good friends of my own who happen to be gay, and when it comes to gay, straight, or whatever, I’m for anything life-affirmative. I’m for gay power, straight power, male power, female power; everybody should feel empowered without oppressing anyone who’s different. You know those World Cup banners about tolerance? I always thought that was one short. No, don’t just tolerate me. Understand and accept me.

Your fiancé, Camila Alves, said in an interview that you went to an Austin lesbian bar and even the lesbians were fawning over you.
Yeah. We had a ball that night. We’ve done that a couple times, actually, and raised the roof with those ladies.

What was your first exposure to gay people?
In high school I was a jock, popular, good-looking, in student council, had a girlfriend — I was that guy. But I also had a friend who was a gay gothic chick, so she was outcast because she was gay and because she was goth with the tattoos and the piercings. But she was also really fuckin’ cool and smart. I would always invite her out with my group, but it was hard for her to come on her own, so mostly we would hang out separately. So I crossed the tracks back and forth with her. There was also a guy that was gay, and he was a loner, and I remember taking up for him when some guys were picking on him.

That’s refreshing, because it sounds like you were a stereotype of someone that outcasts have to watch out for in high school.
Right? I’m not even sure where I got the instinct from, but I’ve always taken up for the underdog. I suppose I learned that from my brothers, because my brothers always had that instinct too, and we’re all very hetero. I also had an experience in college [University of Texas at Austin] when I befriended a kid who was from India. He was a bit of an outcast, but we were in a film class together. One night, after he’d had a few drinks, he made a half-pass at me. I went like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” and he freaked out. I think he thought I was going to be violent or something. I stopped him and said, “Hang on, I’m not gay, but I like you as a friend. I’m sorry if you misread my friendship, but I still want to be your friend.” He was crying, and I remember giving him a hug and saying, “Dude, it’s fine. Whatever raises your skirt, man.” He asked me not to tell anybody, and I said, “You got it.” I didn’t tell anybody, and we remained friends.

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