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Joe Manganiello steps out to support gay rights at HRC dinner

Joe Manganiello steps out to support gay rights at HRC dinner

True Blood star Joe Manganiello was flirty and fun with the crowd at the Human Rights Campaign Gala in Los Angeles over the weekend (17 March) mentioning that he would be playing a stripper in the summer film Magic Mike.

He also wondered why the previous presenter, television personality Ross Mathews, had not offered him a lapdance as he had to Charlize Theron, one of the night's honorees.

'It's a pleasure to be here to lend my voice to HRC's fine work and your fight for equality. I don't happen to be gay," he said as the audience groaned with disappointment.

Then he added a teasing 'yet' to the end of the sentence to wild audience applause.

'While I'll ever be fully able to understand what it feels like to be judged and precluded from basic civil rights based on my sexual orientation, I do know what it's like to be prejudged based on what people think they know about me,' the actor said.

He went on to recall his days as a skinny kid with coke bottle glasses and ears that stuck out.

'I was sent out into the world with a target on my back," he said.

By the time he got to high school, the working out had paid off and he was captain in three sports and was able to defend friends who were being bullied. But because he was in drama, he still felt like a misfit, like he didn't belong to any group.

'But one thing I wasn't was a bully,' Manganiello said. 'In high school as in life, it is something that I completely abhor. I think every kid deserves to grow up in an academic environment that allows them to express themselves freely.'

'The fact is I will always know what it feels like to not exactly fit the mold,' he added. 'Growing up is tough for everyone and every single person in this room is painfully aware that it is tougher for some. These young people are looking to us to fight the good fight on their behalf. Keep up the good work HRC, know that I am forever on your side."

Prior to the program at the JW Marriott Hotel, Manganiello spoke  with Gay Star News about what is in store for his character of werewolf Alcide Herveaux on True Blood.

'Let's just say this year his balls drop,' the actor said. 'He's not taking anybody's crap this year. So you're going to see a real emergence of a hero in the character. We're also going to go way further than my character went in the books. I can't say anything more.'

Manganiello said he would 'love' to have his longtime friend, White Collar star Matt Bomer, guest star on the show.

'I think he'd be a great vampire,' he said. 'Yeah, totally. We spent 15 years apart after college and then in the past year we got to work together a couple of times. He asked me to come to an episode of White Collar and then we got to work on Magic Mike.'

So what does Manganiello think of Bomer's decision last month to publicly thank his male partner and kids at an awards dinner, a move that effectively announced to the world that he is gay.

"Matt's been a friend of mine for a long time,' Manganiello said. 'So I fully support Matt and everything that he does.'