Glee hottie Darren Criss takes his shirt off and opens up about his connection to the gay community in the latest issue of Out magazine.

The 24-year-old, who plays Kurt’s love interest Blaine on the hit TV show, is upfront about being heterosexual in real life.

“It’s more empowering to everybody if I’m articulate about identifying myself as a straight male playing a gay character,” he told the magazine.

“Ultimately that’s more powerful for both communities.”

Darren does, however, have strong ties to the gay community – having grown up performing in musicals in San Francisco.

“I was staying out much later than most kids after shows, going to restaurants.”

“It’s not like I was doing body shots off beautiful Castro boys,” he joked.

“I was friends with older guys, they were who I looked up to – It wasn’t until later that I put together that they were gay.”

And his opinion on whether Blaine and Kurt will ever hook up?

“The most important thing to convey to those watching is for Kurt to have someone he can relate to,” he told the interviewer.

“This is the first time he has a young out male friend, a support system, to show that that’s possible.”

Check out some more smokin’ hot pics of Darren below.

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