Colton Haynes is Still 'Trying To Figure Out Who The F*ck I Am'
"Your mannerisms have to be on mute...you have to basically be straight-acting. And you have to be white, essentially. That's the problem with this industry."
Before moving to Los Angeles and starring in hit shows like Teen Wolf and Arrow,
Colton Haynes didn't care who knew that he was gay. He danced in his teens as a go-go boy at a local gay bar called Big Daddy's and even took his boyfriend to prom. He was unequivocally out.
But because of how Colton looks, Hollywood quickly decided that he was a leading man upon arriving in Los Angeles. He was typecast as a dumb jock, a jerk, the boyfriend of the beautiful singer in a music video — roles he was told that meant he couldn't be gay.
Forced back into the closet, he set about changing his voice and mannerisms. "I definitely had to lock all that back up. And it was really damaging to me because, still to this day, I find myself longing to be that kid who could be wholly anonymous," he says. "I learned shame through this industry."
Now that he's publicly out about his sexuality, he's experienced a dramatic shift in how Hollywood sees him, rarely going in for roles that aren't "the gay best friend or the gay dad."
A tremendous amount has changed for queer actors in the entertainment industry since 2007 when Colton moved to Los Angeles and went on his first audition, but as he makes clear in his new memoir, Miss Memory Lane, "We still have a long way to go."
More than simply a celebrity memoir, the book is the work of a seasoned storyteller that plots each pivotal moment of his life and career while expertly skipping over the mundane cliches typically associated with tales of people growing up in small towns who yearn to make it big in Tinseltown.
Colton joins me on the podcast this week to talk about the barriers that queer actors still face in Hollywood, how being forced back into the closet affected his mental health, and his early experiences with sexual assault.
I was a very effeminate kid, but I also played sports to try to get love from my dad and that didn't fucking work. I just had to be whatever you wanted me to be, therefore I never really, truly...I still am trying to figure out who the fuck I am because I had to be so many different things for so many people and never actually be anything for myself. That's something that is the constant struggle for me.
Thanks for listening.
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Next week we’re back with a Broadway legend…André de Shields. Please watch this video of him singing “Believe In Yourself” from The Wiz, so that you’re prepared. (André was the original Wiz in The Wiz when it premiered on Broadway.)
I’ll see you next Tuesday.