We all know Sean Maher as Dr. Simon Tam from Firefly. Yes? Yes.
For the 14 years in which Sean Maher has been a part of Hollywood, he’s lived his professional life in the closet. And he did a pretty damn good job of it; I don’t recall any kind of speculation about that at all. But, of course, living this kind of double life is super stressful. Even Clark Kent stresses over the efficacy of his disguise a-la-glasses. Okay, maybe not. But in Maher’s case, it took quite a toll on him to keep his personal and professional life in completely different arenas. But now, at his “coming out ball”, he feels more liberated and open than ever.
But being in the closet tormented Maher. “It was so exhausting, and I was so miserable,” Maher says. “I didn’t really have any life other than work and this façade I was putting on. So I kept my friends from college [where he was out] separate from my work friends, and that was very confusing. I just kept going on and on painting this picture of somebody I wasn’t. I didn’t have time for a personal relationship anyway. And you just don’t realize that it’s eating away at your soul.”
He has two young adopted children with his partner of nine years, Paul. While he makes no secret of his fatherhood, often mentioning his kids on his Twitter, he keeps the romantic situation skillfully ambiguous. Because the media wasn’t as accepting of homosexuality back when he’d made his first forays into Hollywood, and because of the pressure from both his manager and agent to “be straight”, this is the first time he’s publicly talked about his sexual orientation:
“I’ve never discussed it publicly,” the 36-year-old continues. “I’ve never been asked about it publicly, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t paint a different picture.” Maher says that not coming out wasn’t so much a choice as much as it was a reality of the business when he first came to L.A. fresh out of college back in 1997. Publicists working with him during his first Tinseltown role as the title character on Fox’s short-lived cop drama Ryan Caulfield: Year One assumed he was straight — and he didn’t tell them otherwise, out of fear. “I’m 22, I move to L.A., and it’s such a cliché, but the day I arrive, publicists from the show took me out to The Ivy for lunch,” he remembers. “They’re telling me, ‘You know, gosh, we’d really appreciate it if you could keep your girlfriend on the side because we want to appeal to the female demographic of the show.’”
Granted, Maher could have corrected his handlers, but in that instant, he decided not to. “At that moment, I didn’t think to say, ‘Oh, I’m gay,’ because right before I left New York [where he went to college at NYU], I had my manager tell me: ‘You need to get a girl on your arm or people will start talking.’ I remember telling him: ‘I’m gay.’ He had no idea. And he said: ‘All the more reason to get a girl on your arm.’ My agent was also like, ‘It’s best if you keep your options open. Maybe bisexual?’”
Luckily that kind of shit would not be taken quite as easily these days. Maher has chosen this moment in particular to come out because of his role on the new NBC show, The Playboy Club, where he plays a closeted gay man (also named Sean) who is married to a lesbian Playboy Bunny.
“I was working on other stuff, and then this role came up, which was like a light bulb going off,” Maher remembers. “I was like, This is perfect. I want to do this, and I want to use it as a platform to come out.”
And now he’s fuckin’ happier than ever. One can say that he’s found serenity. (See what I did thar?)
In the end, coming out publicly is what Maher feels he needed to do to tie his life together, personally and professionally. “Creatively, I feel so much more open and free, and I am so happy on The Playboy Club,” he says. “I think it’s because I’ve never been so open on set. All of the relationships that I have off-camera, I never would have allowed five years ago. It feels so liberating.”
The picture above is Maher’s new Twitter profile picture, changed to reflect the occasion and to show his support.
Source: Entertainment Weekly
Category: Nerd Culture