Millions of women around the world love Zac Efron -- but they're not the only ones!
Speaking to The Advocate, the Paperboy actor acknowledges his gay fan base and voices his support for same-sex marriage. "It's very flattering," Efron says in his first interview wit ha LGBT publication. "After High School Musical and Hairspray, I've always felt embraced by the gay community, and I feel incredibly grateful and honored."
Efron says he first became aware of his gay audience after starring in Disney Channel's High School Musical in 2006. "I think the gay audience related to my character Troy, because it really was a story of embracing who you are, no matter how different you might be, and not being afraid to show it. That's a universal theme for everyone, but it specifically resonated with the gay community, and I felt very proud of that."
Growing up in California, a young Efron found his passion in musical theater. During that time, he also realized "being gay was just another way you can be. I never really had time to think about it or have any preconceived notions. I don't judge anyone and I never have."
"I might've been less aware of it back then," the 24-year-old adds, "but without question I had gay role models."
Though he was in a relationship with High School Musical's Vanessa Hudgens, 23, from 2007 to 2010, and briefly romanced Lily Collins, 23, in early 2012, Efron's own sexual orientation has sometimes been questioned. The actor, who is straight, isn't bothered by the rumors. "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," Efron says.
Expressing his support for legalizing same-sex marriage, Efron tells The Advocate, "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."
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Zac Efron: "I Just Can't See What's So Wrong About Being Gay"