We'll Always Remember Him On Brokeback Mountain

Heath Ledger changed hearts and minds in immeasurable ways. He will be greatly missed.

In the hours after the shocking news that Heath Ledger had died suddenly in Soho on Tuesday, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation probably spoke for many in gay community when it released the following statement: “Heath Ledger will forever be remembered for his groundbreaking role as Ennis del Mar in 'Brokeback Mountain.' His powerful portrayal changed hearts and minds in immeasurable ways. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

The gravitas that such a young man brought to a role with profoundy tragic dimensions surely added to Ledger's reputation as a serious actor more interested in the challenge of his work than the allure of celebrity. In fact, his intensity as an artist was underscored by an interview he gave to the Times' Sarah Lyall in London this past November, in which Ledger confessed that his work on the latest “Batman” movie was so psychically demanding that he was having trouble sleeping more than a few hours a night, even with the use of Ambien. That acknowledgment, coupled with police reports that a prescription bottle was found by his naked body Tuesday, immediately fueled wild speculation about an overdose, even a suicide.

In fact, the cause of Ledger's death is not yet known.

Fred Phelps' heinous Westboro Baptist Church, meanwhile, lost no time in promising to picket Ledger's funeral, calling the deceased actor “a pervert.”

For millions more, we share GLAAD's hope – that they will remember Ledger for teaching them something about lives they knew little of… and about their own humanity as well.

– Paul Schindler