Nickelodeon Teen Heartthrob Stands Up for LGBT Youth
Avan Jogia is an actor on the Nickelodeon show Victorious. Tons of high school and junior high school students watch this show and love both Jogia and his character Beck Oliver. While many young actors take that success and pimp out clothes or products, he's using his fame to help LGBT youth by co-foundeding a group campaign called Straight But Not Narrow.
"Our message is simple," he writes in an op-ed for Advocate.com. "We are straight men and women who support our LGBTQ friends and family."
Now he's using his celebrity to promote the new documentary Bully. In his op-ed he talks about one of the film's subjects, 16-year-old Kelby from Tuttle, Oklahoma. The young girl came out to her parents and then saw their small town community turn their backs on the entire family. Kelby said in the film she was going to stay and fight for change in her town, and that inspired Jogia. Then, he writes, "After the movie premiere, there was a Q&A and someone in the audience asked if she had moved out of town. She said she had. Despite Kelby's strength — and I’m sure she will do amazing things for the world — she couldn’t grow in an environment that made her the constant victim of harassment, ridicule, and lack of empathy. For me that's just it, empathy. Without it, no matter how strong or different you are, you just can’t grow."
While this could be a downer story, but Jogia twists the thought into something of a battle cry. He explains that Bully "made viewers feel that it was possible to make school a more empathetic place. We are connected in a way we have never been before. For all its faults, this heightened connectivity is a potential conduit for a serious sociological change. There is a feeling in this country and around the world that we have let this issue get away from us, that schools are so anemic of empathy that they will never recover. This movie, if not a cure, is the beginning of a way for us to start to fight back."
Check out Jogia inspiring words on Advocate.com.