With all of the harrowing news stories painfully exposing accounts of sexual abuse by powerful men, it’s important to acknowledge that there are so many good men who not only would never do harm to anyone, but who champion women. I have to admit it has been difficult to wake up to yet another famous man being exposed. It’s so easy to focus on the negative, and to internalize the pain experienced by so many. When I started to think about all the men who do wonderful things, I very quickly realized that there are several celebrities that uplift me everyday, who I would be glad to have my son look up to. These men have quite literally pulled me out of the dark hole of negativity this past year — not an easy thing to do — and helped restore my faith in the innate goodness of men.
Mark Ruffalo: You might know Mark as that adorable actor in countless movies or as “The Hulk,” but he also has a large and active presence online in which he speaks out against the abuse of women, fights for equal rights for women, advocates for the environment, weighs in on the political landscape, and brings attention to several injustices in the world. There have been dark mornings where I have read Mark’s tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts, and thought to myself that many good, honest, caring men do exist, and there are more out there than the news would have us believe.
Sterling K. Brown: Sure, we already love him for his stunning, heartfelt portrayal of Randall on the hit show, “This Is Us,” and who can blame us? His gut-wrenching depiction of having an anxiety attack as an overwhelmed 30-something-year-old businessman was not only succinctly on target but did a great service to all people suffering from anxiety — and in particular, men, who don’t feel like they can share their anxious feelings. On top of that, Randall portrays a wonderful, caring family man who makes the world a better place, just like Sterling.
Dave Matthews: He’s a gifted musician who has put on a hell of a show since 1992, and all the while, he uses his music to make the world a better place. This past fall, Dave helped organize the Concert For Charlottesville, Va., his hometown, in response to the neo-Nazi rally and murder (not to mention the President’s stance on it). Dave said, “It’s terrible to equate neo-Nazis to anyone who talks about equality, and the idea that there is a superior race of people is the most absurd and despicable idea. It’s primitive, and it should be illegal. Free speech is one thing but hate speech is a completely different thing, and I don’t have any patience for it. We have to loudly condemn that intolerance. How can you have an intelligent conversation about something when you have to indulge absolute ignorant stupidity?”
David Harbour: You know him as Hopper on Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” the sometimes grumpy but always protective trooper. I admit I didn’t watch the show or know him until my daughters kept speaking of his glory. They adore Hopper for the ways he cares for Eleven. When I watched his acceptance speech earlier this year at the 2017 SAG Awards show, I instantly knew what they meant: “But this award from you, who take your craft seriously, and earnestly believe, like me, that great acting can change the world, is a call to arms from our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper. And through our art to battle against fear, self-centeredness, and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture. And through our craft to cultivate a more empathetic and understanding society by revealing infinite truths that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that when they feel broken, and afraid, and tired, they are not alone. We are united, in that we are all human beings, and we are all together on this horrible, painful, joyous, exciting, and mysterious ride that is being alive.”
Harry Connick, Jr.: Harry brings a new meaning to “multi-talented.” He is a gifted vocalist, piano player, actor, and most recently, talk-show host, but more than all of that, he is a husband and a father. His wife, Jill, and three daughters regularly appear on his show, and even when they don’t, he tends to talk about them all the time. He isn’t afraid to show his emotion, and has let the tears flow while talking about Jill’s cancer and while being surprised by his daughters on the show. “I don’t know what kind of father or husband I am. I just know that I feel so lucky to have met Jill and to have my daughters that I just want to do a good job. I just want to try to be as understanding and patient, and informative, and loving as I can be.”
Who would you add to this list?
Danielle Sullivan is a writer living in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @Deewrite.