Aug. 21 2013 12:00 AM

TV personality Ross Mathews is this year’s grand marshal and keynote speaker at Michigan Pride rally


“So many people hate what makes them different. If you celebrate what makes you unique, amazing things can happen.”

As the cultural landscape turns to acceptance of the LGBT community, that is the message Ross Mathews will deliver on Saturday as keynote speaker at the Michigan Pride rally at the Capitol. Mathews, who was interviewed last week on “City Pulse on the Air,” will lead a march to the Capitol before his speech.

“It’s really a special time,” Mathews said. “It’s a time for a celebration and time to get to work.”

Mathews, the 33-year-old TV personality who has contributed to “The Tonight Show” (where he started as an intern) and “Chelsea Lately,” makes his first visit to Lansing on Saturday. He wants participants at Saturday’s events to celebrate how far gay rights have come, but also to keep fighting. That 13 states recognize same-marriage underscores his point: Look where we’ve come, look where we need to go.

“That is the challenge: To not just get caught up in the celebration,” he said. “Revel in that for a moment and then roll our sleeves up.”

Mathews said he was “one of the fortunate ones” when he came out to his mother as a 17-year-old growing up in Mt. Vernon, Wash. The final chapter of his book, “Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence,” is his mom’s advice to other parents with LGBT children.

Now living in Los Angeles, Mathews checked in from his Universal Studios office where he’s working on his new interactive talk show, “Hello Ross,” that launches on Sept. 6. When he started out with Leno in 2001, Mathews said it was “a very different landscape” for portraying the LGBT community in pop culture.

And going back further, some personalities were “obviously gay, but it was unspoken, going back to the beginning of television,” he said. I’m lucky enough where I can just speak it — it never had to be unspoken for me.”