HE made a name for himself playing the flamboyantly fabulous Jack McFarland on hit sitcom Will & Grace, but Broadway actor Sean Hayes refused to comment on his sexuality until four years after the series ended.
Speaking to Playbill, Hayes said despite being openly gay since his teens, he did not feel comfortable talking publicly about his sexuality after his meteoric rise to fame from the comedy series.
“I had personal issues inside of myself that I regret. I regret not coming out sooner and helping more people, and I regret not coming out during the show.
“Everybody in the gay community knew I was gay, but it was this fight I had with the press because they want you to come out on their terms, and other gay people want you to come out on their terms, and if you don’t come out on their terms you’re just an asshole, and you’re wrong. Well, each individual human being has a lot of stuff that nobody knows about. Nobody knows what anybody else is going through at any point in their lives.”
Hayes said he felt hesitance to come out after witnessing Hollywood end the careers of openly-gay actors while rewarding straight actors for playing gay characters.
“[They] could play gay and be adored and worshipped for it, and I thought, ‘Oh. I’ll just do that. If I just do a good job, I’ll be accepted as an actor, and then I’ll just keep playing any role,” he said.
“But Hollywood doesn’t work that way, and audiences don’t work that way because there’s a stipulation that goes with audiences where if they see a gay person playing straight, they go ‘Yeah right.’”
He also called on the public to stop being fascinated with gay actors playing straight characters.
“There’s nothing mind blowing about that anymore. It’s been done,” he told Playbill.
“I’d like everyone to just be treated equally, to see people look at you and accept you for who you are as a human being and your spirit.”
Will & Grace was a hit sitcom that ran for eight seasons from 1998 to 2006. It has been credited with putting LGBTI characters and rights into the spotlight.