Belfast Telegraph

Josh Hutcherson shares family pain

Josh Hutcherson has opened up about his two gay uncles who died of AIDS.

The Hunger Games star never got a chance to know his relatives as the disease took their lives when he was a baby. The 19-year-old has been using his rise to fame to support gay rights and wishes his uncles were still around to see his work.

"They were in their early thirties, in great shape, but unfortunately they were taken away from us too soon," he told E! Online. "Both passed away at about the time I was born."

His family has encouraged his work as an advocate for equal rights.

The actor's friends also have his back. Josh works closely with gay rights organisation Straight But Not Narrow (SBNN) founded by his best friend, Victorious star Avan Jogia.

"My mum has always been a big advocate, especially in the gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual community so for me it's always been a part of my soul," he said.

Josh recalls a 14-year-old high school student from Florida sending a letter to SBNN. The student's message almost reduced Josh to tears.

"He was in this very right wing and religious sort of area and he sent a letter saying how SBNN changed his life and how he was able to feel more comfortable coming out to his friends," he said. "I was almost bawling reading it. That makes all our work worth it."

He is set to become the youngest recipient of the Vanguard Award at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday. The awards recognise various branches of the media for their presentations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Past honourees include Elizabeth Taylor, Charlize Theron and Janet Jackson.

"This is what my family is most proud of and the same for me," Josh said. "Acting is one thing, but actually trying to change the world and the way people think to make people's lives better? That's the stuff I'm most proud of."

He likes to think his uncles would be thrilled to see him receive the honour if they were here today. He hopes they are looking down on him.

"I'm not a religious person in that sense," he added. "But at the same time I do believe in some sort of something, just not sure exactly. But yeah, I'd like to think that they see what I'm doing and that they're proud of me."

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