David Yost, better known as Blue Ranger Billy Cranston from the hit ’90s children’s show Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, talked about his experiences with homophobia and gay conversion therapy in a recent interview with OUT in Perth.
Yost famously left the Power Rangers franchise after the series’ fourth season, a choice he later revealed was due to homophobic harassment on set. Colleagues repeatedly called him a “faggot,” and Yost, disheartened, tried conversion therapy for two years to change his sexuality. It didn’t work—and the actor had a nervous breakdown.
“It took me years to be comfortable and really be open about myself,” he told the magazine. “It wasn’t an overnight process, and it took a long time to be happy and comfortable.”
In 2009, actor Bryan Cranston, who did some voice acting for the original series, also targeted Yost with a homophobic remark, expressing his discomfort with lending his last name to the out actor’s character.
“When I first read [those comments], I was caught off guard,” Yost recalled. “I’d never met Bryan Cranston, and it was a little off putting. For someone I’d never met to jump to conclusions was a little offensive.”
“Today, he would be instantly vilified for such a statement,” he added. “What was the climate like at the time he made those remarks, that he would have felt comfortable in doing so?”
Yost said that he gets mostly positive comments from fans on social media, even years after the original Power Rangers series ended: “I’ve realized this really was a huge hit, and our characters had such an influence on people’s lives. They still praise the show and just show us love every day, and it’s really amazing.”
“I get letters every day via social media from people who tell me, ’Thank you so much for coming out, you’ve given me the courage to come out,'” he added. “It’s all a reward for me on so many levels because I know that I’ve helped other people to find the strength within themselves to speak up and talk.”
The Power Rangers franchise lives on, albeit without Yost, in a spinoff series and a 2017 feature film. (However, the out actor did reunite with other Power Rangers alumni for the 2017 movie The Order.)
One of the series’ contemporary Rangers, Trini the Yellow Ranger, is even queer in the latest movie.