Trailblazing actor and activist Wilson Cruz is an Out100 cover star.
Awarded by Out Magazine, an outlet dedicated to LGBTQ+-focused news and entertainment, the Out100 issue honors 100 of the most influential LGBTQ+ individuals of the year.
This year, the issue features four covers. Joining Cruz is Black Lives Matter organizer Janaya Khan, actor and director Joe Mantello, as well as artist and actress Janelle Monáe.
“All I can think about is the kid who still lives inside of me who once stalked a newsstand for a week in order to work up the nerve to purchase an Out Magazine,” Cruz exclusively told “GMA.”
“It’s a great honor and I am honestly humbled to share these covers with these extraordinary LGBTQ people,” Cruz said.
Currently starring as Hugh Culber in “Star Trek: Discovery,” Cruz plays opposite Anthony Rapp of “Rent.”
Together, they are two out gay actors playing as the Star Trek franchise’s first on-screen out same-sex couple.
But Cruz is no stranger to being the first or to making TV history.
His breakout role as Rickie Vasquez in the 1990’s teen drama “My So-Called Life,” made him the first out gay man to play a gay leading role on television.
Cruz was only 21 at the time.
“The whole point of that role was so that people could see themselves and own how beautiful their lives could be,” Cruz told Out Magazine.
He added that what he took from playing Rickie was literally his character’s arc: “I’m enough just as I am. I spent so much time, if you want to get honest, trying to make up for what I thought was broken as a teenager, to please people and make up for the shame that I was carrying around about being a gay boy.”
Later, Cruz would assume the role of Angel, a talented street musician and vivacious drag artist, who would eventually succumb to HIV/AIDS, in the Broadway tour production of “Rent.”
Paving the way for LGBTQ+ representation through the years on-screen and on-stage, Cruz himself has become part of LGBTQ+ history.
As executive producer of the docuseries “Visible: Out on Television,” Cruz documented the LGBTQ+ movement through the lens of the evolution of American television.
Cruz continues to disrupt the status quo for inclusive storytelling and proves that he is far from done doing so.
“Today, yesterday and tomorrow I will fight for our LGBTQ+ young people,” Cruz told “GMA.”
Cruz, who also serves on the national board for GLSEN, an organization that works towards LGBTQ + inclusion in schools, added, “I have no kids of my own, so I consider them all of my kids...I will fight until my dying day for a world and an LGBTQ community that celebrates and acknowledges the humanity and dignity of every single life, no matter their race, class, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and ability.”
“We all deserve to be seen and are worthy of love,” Cruz said.
“Wilson Cruz continues to go where no man has gone before,” Out Magazine’s editor in chief David Artavia told “GMA.”
Adding, “His phenomenal work as an actor and activist has made a lasting impact for not only LGBTQ+ people but also the friends and family that love us.”
Diane Minshall-Anderson, CEO of Pride Media, Out Magazine’s parent company, told “GMA,” Cruz’s “phenomenal work as an actor and activist has made a lasting impact for not only LGBTQ+ people but also the friends and family that love us. Now more than ever, it’s important to highlight the monumental achievements the LGBTQ+ community has made against the backdrop of a giant cultural shift and an evolving landscape of entertainment, politics, social justice, industry, and so much more. This list is critical.”
In his Out100 cover profile entitled, “Wilson Cruz saves the world,” Cruz says he uses television “to invite people in so they actually know us.”
“If they know us, they’ll understand us. And if they can understand, they’ll accept us and celebrate us. And that’s all any of us want.”
Cruz also told “GMA” that despite this great honor for a remarkable body of work and activism throughout his life and career, he continues “to be inspired by multitudes!”
“I think about people who’ve paved the way for me, in many ways. I owe a great deal to Harvey Firestein and Sir Ian McKellan for showing me I could be an out actor and succeed. I wouldn’t have even allowed myself to dream of pursuing a career as an actor if it hadn’t been for Rita Moreno and Raul Julia, who modeled Puerto Rican grit and excellence.”
Asked about what advice he would give to the next generation of storytellers and groundbreakers, Cruz said, “Honestly, I’m not sure they need my advice.”
“They are the generation I helped raise; My job, now, is to actively support this next generation of activists and trailblazers in the work they’ve already commenced,” he said.
“My advice to them is quite simple: continue to challenge us, to push us towards the more just and equitable world where we embrace our responsibility to each other and to this planet. I am a soldier in their revolution and I join them in the work of saving the world for them and their children,” Cruz said.
“Let’s get to work!”
The full Out100 list releases on Thursday, Nov. 19 and the Out100 print issue hits newsstands on Dec. 1st.