Actor-TV personality Mario Lopez is ready to give his LGBT fans something extra: He’ll lead Sunday’s big parade up Ocean Drive in support of Miami Beach Gay Pride.
“I’m supportive of events like these and supportive for a lot of the issues that gay pride stands for,” says Lopez, longtime host of TV’s Extra. “A couple of cousins of mine, who I’m very close to, happen to be gay. Just to rally with them and the family. I’m very close with them and like to support when I can.”
The dimpled Lopez, who showed off his “chiseled abs” on the Nov. 2013 cover of FitnessRx magazine — and the year before stripped to his signature underpants for Ellen DeGeneres — has long had a huge gay fan base, and not just for the obvious reasons.
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Early in Lopez’s acting career, he starred in the TV bio Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story. Back in 1997, many Hollywood types told Lopez it wasn’t a smart career move playing the gay, HIV-positive Olympic diver.
“There were some people who said those exact words,” Lopez recalls. “I talked it over with my family and they were very supportive. I was a fan of Greg’s. He was a San Diego boy, just like me. I was compelled by his story. It was an important story. He’s one of the greatest athletes ever. He was coming off a very successful book and I thought it was a very important role. I was honored to do it.”
Still, Lopez acknowledges his decision was “pretty gutsy back then.”
“I didn’t have any qualms, to tell you the truth, about what people were going to think,” he says. “The only people who were important to me were in my family. Once I had their support, it really didn’t matter.”
Greg Louganis says Lopez “did an incredible job of telling the story.”
“I should look so good,” Louganis jokes. “He was great. I adore him. It was very courageous of him. He’s comfortable in his own skin and with who he is. That has a lot to do with it. He’s just a good guy. He’s one of the good guys, I think.”
Lopez, 41, seems to have settled down in his personal life. After a two-week marriage and annulment in 2004 to actress Ali Landry, the actor starred in 2008 on Broadway in a revival of A Chorus Line, where he met dancer Courtney Mazza. They married in 2012 and are raising two children together.
The Lopez family regularly attends church and Lopez says he has no trouble reconciling his devout Catholic faith with his support for LGBT rights.
“Like the pope said, ‘Who am I to judge?’ If the pope says that, who am I to judge anyone?’ Lopez says. “I feel at the end of the day, if you come from a place of love you can’t go wrong. I always try to come from a place of love with people and treat all people with respect. That’s just my approach towards folks.”
If you go
The 2015 Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade led by grand marshal Mario Lopez begins noon Sunday on Ocean Drive, between Fifth and 15th streets.
Entertainment continues through 9 p.m., concluding with a fireworks display at 11th Street and Ocean Drive.