Coming Out in Show Business

When I arrived in New York City in 1999, times were different. Being gay didn't have the support that it has today. Quite often we were told as actors to not be too open about our homosexuality because it could deter us from getting roles playing straight characters. Even as society has begun to support the gay acting community and you see openly-gay popular actors like Neil Patrick Harris and  Cheyenne Jackson, I have noticed that a lot of people are still apprehensive about being openly gay. I felt it was very important to be vocal about who I am and tell my truth because I think the work I do is better when I'm honest.

Having been told very early in life that being gay was not acceptable, I found much of my early life to be very unhappy. I'm not in show business to make other people like me.  I'm here to help people see the world differently. Professionally I've been able to play straight roles, and I've been able to play gay roles, and being gay myself has never prohibited me from solidly playing those parts. That being said, it’s true that when you come out, you will be limited to what roles people will consider you for. In my experience, some casting directors won't consider me for roles because they personally know me and know that I'm gay. As frustrating as that is, that's their problem, not mine. Now more than ever there are so many more roles for openly gay people and people of color, and it gets better and better every year.

So as Pride month comes to a close, I encourage you, if you're questioning whether or not to come out because of your fear of limited work, remember that you are more than what you do. If you can fearlessly be yourself within this business, you are going to help set a precedent worldwide for other people, people in other countries, people who aren't as lucky as we are, to see themselves in you.

To here more about my story, check out “Coming Out” on my YouTube Channel.

Bret ShufordComment