Bridgerton actor Jonathan Bailey has recently discussed his sexuality and coming out experiences with Attitude Magazine.

For the publication’s February 2021 issue, Jonathan Bailey joined screen and stage legend Sir Ian McKellen to chat about their experiences with coming out in showbiz. Bailey spoke about coming to terms with his own homosexuality along with how he was discouraged to come out by other gay people in the industry.

The Bridgerton and Broadchurch star traces his own coming out story to his initial meeting with Mckellen at Pride in London in 2006, where he gave a speech at Trafalgar square.

‘Now’s the time to come out’

“…you were on stage and you said, ‘Now’s the time to come out’I stood there and I wasn’t ready. I was doing a play, I took over from Andrew Garfield in Beautiful Thing [in 2006], and I was in rehearsals, and they took me to Pride to understand the community. And I remember that moment. But it wasn’t my time…

Bailey mentioned that the most ‘conservative’ advice he received about coming out in his industry were from other gay people.

“They’re either people who work in publicity, or there’s also been casting directors who have put the call into my agent to say, ‘Just so that you know, the way that this is going to be sold is that it’s a gay story written by gay writers for gay actors.’”

Commodification of sexuality

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 Bailey was urged by these conversations to remain closeted in order to protect his career as an actor. However, he has noticed a change since being openly gay in the industry: the commodification of his sexuality.

The two actors talked about their differences with their coming out experiences and how in today’s society, if being a gay actor isn’t discouraged, it’s commodified. For example, Bailey mentions receiving a script with a statement reading ‘Must be comfortable with talking about sexuality’.

McKellen’s response was that in the modern industry, gay actors are being actively sought out.

I know someone who has decided that it should be a gay actor playing a specific part. But they’re not, of course, allowed to say in a casting, ‘Are you gay?’. It would be discriminatory. But they want you to be gay.

The chat ended with Sir Ian giving Jonathan some parting inspiration.

“…what I would hope for you is that you’re honesty about being gay, not having that secret, continues to bring you joy. But you place that, as far as your career is concerned, wherever you want it to be placed.”

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