Sean Hayes Reveals What He Regrets About Coming Out

"I had personal issues inside of myself."

Sean Hayes said he regrets not coming out during the height of Will & Grace’s popularity in a new interview with Playbill, blaming his decision to remain closeted on a combination of “personal issues” and pressure from the media.

“I had personal issues inside of myself that I regret,” said the 45-year-old actor, who began his limited run in Broadway’s An Act of God earlier this month.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 06:  James Gleason, Sean Hayes and David Josefsberg during the Broadway opening night performance curtain call for  'An Act Of God' at the Booth Theatre on June 6, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
Walter McBride/WireImage

He continued:

“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 the pressure to come out came from fans of the show as well as the media. At one point in his career, he said he considered staying closeted indefinitely so he could continue playing straight roles — because as his experience in the industry proved, coming out publicly could be “career-ending” for a gay actor.

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Hayes goes on to point out the hypocrisy between society’s acceptance of straight men playing gay, and how the sentiment doesn’t go both ways:

“[Straight men] 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. 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.’”

“We shouldn’t be fascinated that a straight man can play gay anymore,” he said. “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.”

Matthew Tharrett is a writer, filmmaker, and above all else, a Britney fan. He once shared a milkshake with Selena Gomez.
@mattharrett