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    First Published: August 2003
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The Broadway and London West End star of Rent joins a growing list of celebrities in the US who are backing Democrat Howard Dean to defeat George W. Bush in the 2004 US Presidential election, writes OutUK correspondent Chris Cooper.
Musical star Anthony Rapp today endorsed former Vermont Governor Howard Dean for President. Rapp is best known for originating the role of Mark Cohen in the Broadway and London West End productions of the Pulitzer prize-winning rock musical Rent.

He has also appeared in movies such as Dazed and Confused and the Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind. Currently, he is touring the US as the title character in the gender-bending musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch.


Howard Dean, now the established frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination, first came to Rapp's attention last year when the actor emceed an event for the Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay rights lobbying organization. Dean spoke at the event explaining his experience as the first Governor to sign into law a state statute recognizing gay civil unions. Rapp said he "was completely blown away by Dean's candour, his passion, his courage, and his humanity."
"He spoke so eloquently about how and why he came to sign the Civil Unions bill, and the political cost to himself and how that solidified even more his conviction that equal rights for all people are essential in America," Rapp told Out for Dean in a recent interview.

Rapp, who has never before been involved with a political campaign, decided Dean was the candidate to unseat Republican President George W. Bush.


Howard Dean camnpaigning in a San Diego gay bar.
"The Bush administration has consistently distorted facts, bending rhetoric to hide its true intentions," claims Rapp, "and doing so in so much secret and under some sort of presumption that Bush has a mandate to alter everything in our government."

Rapp believes Howard Dean can excite disenfranchised voters more than any of the other Democratic candidates. "He is truly in touch with what makes politics alive," raves Rapp, "people doing something to better our country because they believe in it and in the ideas that created it.

"I do not agree 100 percent with all of his views. But I can't imagine being excited about any of the other candidates," he added.

Rapp believes that as more voters become aware of Dean's positions on complex issues, they will find it harder to accept the "liberal" label that many in the media have given him. "The depth and breadth of his ideas and the scope of his understanding is what will be appealing to a broad diversity of voters," says Rapp. "America will probably be more than a little surprised that it's possible to be blown away by the power of a politician once again."

Rapp will be joining a number of gay and lesbian celebrities co-hosting National Coming Out Day house parties for Dean in cities across America on October 11th. Out for Dean is spearheading the project as an effort to raise the visibility of LGBT voters and support a candidate it says will fight for their equality.

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