The 21-year-old actor portrays the titular character in the ‘Love Simon’ spin-off series and hoped he was able to tell the story of his relative after taking a “deep dive” and exploring his loved one’s own coming out.
He said: “I asked him about his story, and how it affected him, and we kind of went on a deep dive into what affected him in what ways, and so in the end we kind of based Victor on my cousin because I wanted to represent his struggle.
“I think my cousin is quite possibly my favourite person in the whole entire world, he’s my best friend and way more than a cousin, he’s like a brother. We do everything together. I respect him to the utmost degree and really appreciate him as a person.”
Michael’s bond with his cousin has caused him to get involved in the work of gay rights charities and to use his voice to campaign for equality.
He said: “I want my cousin to be able to adopt a kid and not have prejudice against him.
“I want him to have a job and not be at risk of getting fired because he’s gay. Everyone should have that birthright to be free and everyone should be able to do what they wanna do. I think that is a message that is universal and it really speaks to me.”