Raúl Castillo on his role on the new HBO show 'Looking'

When we read the recent Out magazine interview with Raúl Castillo we thought 'Okay, this is what a Latino ally to the LGBT community looks like.' Castillo, who is straight, talks about preparing his family for his portrayal of a gay man in the HBO series "Looking. " Castillo grew up in a Mexican family in Texas and although his family had seen him in gay roles before, he took the time to prepare them for the wider exposure on the new show. As he says in the piece, a show like this can lead to powerful conversations amongst Latino families about their LGBT family, neighbors and friends. A role like this throws the door open for others to speak about their own real experiences as LGBT Latino people.

Here's an excerpt of the interview and the link to the whole piece is below:

I grew up in south Texas in a place that's 90-percent Mexican-American. My parents are from Mexico. But I always felt very American. When I would go to Mexico, my brother and sister and I would be the gringos. Then I went out to school in Boston and felt so un-American. Everyone always asked, "Where are you from?" I said, "Texas." And then they said, "No, where are you from from?" Then I understood that this is what most of America is like, and that I grew up sheltered. A lot of the storyline between Patrick and Richie is reminiscent of those years in Boston. Patrick, in a very charming way, is trying to figure Richie out.

You're straight but play a gay guy on Looking. How was that experience? Did you ever doubt taking on a queer role?

I know I said this already, but once I saw Weekend, I wanted to work with Andrew. And I've played gay characters before and never had a problem with it. But I did think about how my parents would react. They're old-school Mexican. But for being old-school and traditional, they're actually very open-minded. They're so excited about the show, and they're very proud and they have been super supportive of me from day one. They're happy to see me doing what I love and they're relieved that I'm now able to make a living doing it. You're making it! Yeah, HBO! But there was a moment when we went to shoot the pilot, where I sat in my hotel room the night before and composed an email to my parents, brother, sister, uncle, and aunt. I wrote them this email and said, "I'm sitting in my hotel room in San Francisco. I'm here to shoot a pilot for HBO. The way that pilots work is that networks shoot a pilot and if they like it, they'll green light it and order a whole series. The show is about gay men living in San Francisco and, in it, I'm going to be playing a gay man. I've played gay men before and never had a problem with it, but I want you guys to know, so you're ready for it. If you have any questions or want to talk about it, let me know. You guys have always supported be and I hope you support me now." And they wrote back such loving messages!

This whole experience has opened up channels of communication. A lot of times people are so old-school and traditional that they don't know how to talk about this stuff. We have to provide the language for them. We have to make them feel comfortable. Because often times they don't give a shit. Yeah, they've been told their whole lives that being gay is wrong, but in their hearts, they don't really feel that way. I know that this is not the main point of Looking, but I hope the show does for other people what it did for me and my family, which is start a conversation. My family's so excited. It's awesome.

That's really good to hear. Most gay men and women come out to their families, but this sounds like a kind of coming out, as well. It's great that you're sharing this side of the experience. I think it's rare to hear about the very personal effects of acting.

Exactly! And my dad just bought an HBO subscription.

The link to the whole article is here.

Allies find ways to move the conversation forward on LGBT equality and justice, although they themselves are not LGBT. What is your definition of ally? What do you expect from your non-LGBT allies?