Heath Ledger, the actor who gave life to one of fiction’s best-loved gay characters in the film Brokeback Mountain, was found dead in New York yesterday.

The 28-year-old Australian, who rose to prominence playing a gay character in the short-lived Channel 10 sport drama Sweat, died of a suspected drug overdose.

Ledger became a gay pin-up boy when he played gay cowboy Ennis Del Mar in the acclaimed Ang Lee film Brokeback Mountain, starring alongside Jake Gyllenhaal.

The role earned him a string of award nominations, including an Oscar nod for Best Actor.

I thought it was an opportunity to represent this form of love and to portray homosexual love -“ man on man or woman on woman love -“ as not being a disease or a plague or something that can be cured or a lifestyle choice, Ledger told SSO after Brokeback Mountain‘s release.

The level of intimacy and emotion experienced within these relationships are exactly what happens within heterosexual love. And I thought that was going to be incredibly important and I just thought it was good to try and open some people’s minds.

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