Zac Efron in The Paperboy

Young Hollywood sex symbol Zac Efron has opened up about his gay fans, playing a gay role and his thoughts on same-sex marriage.

The 24-year-old star, who first made a splash in High School Musical is taking on increasingly more grown-up roles. He spoke to the Advocate magazine in what has been labelled his first interview with the gay media.

“After High School Musical and Hairspray, I’ve always felt embraced by the gay community, and I feel incredibly grateful and honored,” said Efron about his gay following.

“This is actually a very special interview for me. I’m extremely aware of the support I’ve gotten from you guys over the years, and it’s amazing that it’s taken this long to sit down and actually discuss it, but please know that it hasn’t gone unappreciated. I’m so excited to be talking to you.”

When asked if he’d consider taking on a gay role, Efron replied: “I’d never take a role just for the sake of playing gay, but I’m always looking for a role that’s challenging, different, and entails some risk, so there’s no doubt in my mind that one of those characters will be gay at some point in the future. It’s always interesting to delve into unexplored territory, and that would be a new avenue for me. I definitely wouldn’t be afraid.”

In the interview, writer Brandon Voss complimented Efron for having previously responded to gay rumours posted by blogger Perez Hilton by stating: “Honestly, if the worst he can say about me is that I’m gay, then I think I’ll be fine. I can handle it.”

Efron thanked Voss and commented that “I don’t like to live in fear about things like rumors and backlash to begin with — that’s the way I was raised — but I just can’t see what’s so wrong about being gay.”

The actor was also asked about same-sex marriage. “It’s an issue that affects so many people in my life — a lot of my close friends and some of the most influential people around me. I just want them all to be happy. It would make me so happy to see them able to live their lives and do what they want to do,” said Efron.

Efron will next be seen in the film The Paperboy in which he features in a scene dancing in the rain in his underwear with co-star Nicole Kidman .

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