Kristen Bell: Saved By the Bell
BY Brandon Voss
February 17 2012 5:00 AM ET
After standing up for the underdog as the titular teenage private eye in Veronica Mars, Kristen Bell continues the good fight as a vocal LGBT ally. Currently starring as a smart and sassy management consultant on Showtime’s House of Lies — and as a news reporter in the big-screen whale tale Big Miracle — the 31-year-old Burlesque beauty and Gossip Girl narrator opens up for the first time about how marriage inequality has stalled her plans to wed fiancé Dax Shepard.
The Advocate: When did your relationship with the LGBT community begin?
Kristen Bell: I’ve always done musical theater, but I wasn’t necessarily aware of gay people while growing up in Michigan. I knew I was attracted to a certain male personality, but it was an unwritten love because no one in my high school was out of the closet. That’s why attending NYU was such a wonderful, joyous musical theater experience for me: About 70% of my friends during college were gay.
How did your upbringing inform your views on LGBT issues?
I didn’t know anyone who was openly gay, so it wasn’t addressed. I wasn’t taught to treat gays with respect; I was taught to treat everyone with respect, so I never grew up with a prejudice against any race or sexual orientation, and that’s the gift I was given. When I got to New York, I was like, “Wow, gay people are awesome!” It was a sort of celebratory acknowledgement of the acceptance my parents talked about.
You’ve supported Friendfactor, a social media website that connects straight allies with LGBT causes. You even wore an Old Navy gay pride T-shirt to the May 2011 launch event in New York.
Fuck, yeah. You bet your balls, I did. I hosted that event with Chelsea Clinton because I thought it was absurd that New York hadn’t passed a marriage equality bill yet. In about 10 years, knock on wood, I think we’re going to be embarrassed as a nation about our behavior on this issue. It’s going to be exactly like what happened in 1970, when people were like, “Whoa, 1960 sucked. We should’ve let everyone ride the bus.”
Friendfactor founder Brian Elliot mentioned in an interview that you dedicated your own Friendfactor Friend-setter page to one of your best gay friends.
I dedicated it to my friend Greg, who I went to college with. He’s been one of my best friends since 1998, and I love and adore him. After I moved to New York, a lot of lovely men and women that I knew started to come out of the closet, because they felt comfortable being in an atmosphere that was finally accepting of them. It breaks my heart when I think about what some of my gay friends have gone through. I’ve heard them say things like, “But I’m wrong, I’m a disappointment,” and none of it’s true, of course. There’s so much bullshit that idiots preach. No matter what your beliefs are, nobody is bad or wrong because of the way that they were born. Why anyone would tear anyone else down, especially for reasons that are so intimate, is beyond me. It almost doesn’t infuriate me as much as it confuses me.