GLAAD Davidson/Valenti Award recipient

A decade ago, Chad Allen came out of the closet. And the film calls dried up. Immediately. “It was really tough for a long time,” the actor recalls. “Certainly I’ve watched it change a lot over the years, and … we’ve made tremendous progress.”

Closeted actors often talk to Allen about their fear of coming out. His advice: “I tell them to do it with your eyes wide open. But I encourage them to do it. It takes courage. But we can’t sit around and complain about the ways things are if we’re not willing to create the change.”

According to Allen, the majority of that change must happen within the industry. “I’ve said for years, the people who were most fearful about gay actors coming out of the closet were Hollywood professionals — many of them gay themselves. There has been a tremendous amount of internalized homophobia that was rampant in the industry. That victimized a lot of us (who) came out of the closet. That’s changing.”

Producer-star of the GLAAD-nommed feature “Save Me,” pictured below, Allen is participating in the AIDS/Lifecycle, a seven-day, 600-mile bike ride that has raised more than $11 million in the fight against AIDS.

Allen receives the Davidson/Valentini Award at the GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco.

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