Former Home and Away star Ross Newton has opened up about his experiences as a gay actor and reflected on how his sexuality affected his showbiz career.
The 52-year-old actor reflected on his role as Greg Marshall in the long-running soap opera, touching on the iconic, early ’90s on-screen marriage between Greg and Bobby, played by Nicolle Dickson.
A lot has changed since the 1992 tele-wedding. Since leaving the show in 1993, Newton now lives a quiet life with his partner Lucas and works as a development coordinator at Western Sydney University, Parramatta.
Speaking to 7NEWS.com.au, Newton opened up about his experiences playing the teen heart-throb in Home and Away.
“It was amazing for me,” Newton said.
“It was a pretty new show at the time – and it was really gaining momentum. But it was a close-knit group of people and predominantly young cast members. And I think it’s still the same way now.
“We had no idea that it would become what it’s become – and I’m proud to have played a part in it.”
Newton discussed how his sexuality affected his career in the past and dissected how homophobia is still creating “limits” in the present – both on-screen and off.
However, Newton noted that despite his encounters with “challenging” discrimination, he still sees a future in his acting career.
“Back in the early 1990s, it was a very different society,” Newton said.
“I think being an LGBTQI performer in the entertainment industry was totally fine – but it was more the perception of society. Society wasn’t really warming to that and it was still taboo.
“I think we’ve come leaps and bounds – and reflecting on my time on Home and Away, I was told by a producer at the time, for your career’s sake and for our show, it’s best that you don’t talk about this sort of thing.
“That was normal then … I was constantly on my toes – I was always wondering, is someone going to find out or am I going to get caught out somewhere?
“I still think, for actors in the industry, if you’re open about who you are, I think there are limitations in terms of the opportunities that are available to you – at least in terms of the really big roles,” he said.
Newton is not the only actor who has had to hide their sexuality while starring on Home and Away.
Kylie Watson, who played Shauna Bradley from 1999 to 2002, came out as a lesbian to Sydney journalist Katrina Fox in a March 2008 issue of the now-defunct Cherrie magazine.
Home and Away has made progress since then. The most notable example being last year’s introduction of Ty Anderson (played by Darius Williams) – the first openly gay character featured on the show in more than 10 years.
Home and Away, which debuted on the Seven Network in 1988, has run for 32 seasons and over 7200 episodes.
The program, which currently screens in Australia on Seven at 7pm Mondays to Thursdays, also screens on Channel 5 in Britain and RTÉ Television in Ireland.
In its time, it has been sold to more than 80 countries around the world.