Let’s face it, as television viewers we grow attached to the gay characters that resonate with us on the small screen, and with the actors that bring life to these roles. We also find ourselves growing fond of out-and-proud actors that have opted to play it straight – that’s why it’s called acting, people – and vice versa.
So when their shows are cancelled or taken off the air before they “wear out their welcome” (whatever, I still miss Sex and the City on Sunday nights, ok?), it can be a little bit difficult to see them slide into other TV roles easier than Lindsay Lohan checking into another rehab (I’m rootin’ for you, girl).
Alas, sometimes that isn’t always the case, which might have you asking yourself, “Where are they now?” In some cases for these actors, it could be taken as a query of, “Where did they disappear to?”
But for curiosity’s (and manner’s) sake, I like to opt for the former and not the latter.
And with that burning question (no trip to the doctor is necessary for said burning question), firmly implanted in my mind, let’s take a look at, well, where they are now for the TV set.
Get ready to play catch up with 12 actors that represented us on the small screen, why they made their respective impacts, and how they have sustained their careers.
Mitchell Anderson, Party of Five
Openly gay thespian Mitchell Anderson began his time on
TV during the 1980s with minor one-off roles by playing character with names
like “Butchie” and “Rod,” (I’ll just let those sink in), prior to his series regular internship as Dr. Jack McGuire (alongside another pre-out actor, Neil Patrick Harris) on Doogie Howser, M.D.
In 1996, Anderson’s professional and personal worlds melded into a perfect symmetry. At the time, he was on the Fox drama Party of Five as Ross Werkman, who was teaching Claudia
Salinger (Lacey Chabert) the finer points of the violin, as her gay music teacher. And to show that he was in tune with the character he played for 22 episodes during the six-year run of
the series, Anderson publicly came out during the GLAAD Media Awards in March of that year.
It also afforded the actor the opportunity to become an activist for a wealth of GLBT causes, then after he worked on a few more projects, including the cult favorite show Popular, Mitchell capped off his two decade acting career in 2000 with a guest spot on Showtime’s Beggars and Choosers.
TV’s loss of the openly gay actor is Atlanta’s gain, as Anderson is now happy living with his partner of many years, Richie Arpino. He also cites being a restaurateur as his “new outlet for my artistic passion.”
Michael Boatman, Spin City
Prior to playing an out mayoral aide on Spin City, Michael Boatman
was a very “private” actor. Well, in the sense that he was known for his role as Pvt. Samuel Beckett on China Beach.
Boatman was an integral part of the ensemble sitcom, which over the course of six seasons starred Michael J. Fox, Carla Gugino, Alan Ruck, Heather Locklear, Charlie Sheen and Barry Bostwick as The Beaver, err, The Mayor of New York City.
His Carter Heywood character was the mayor’s head of minority affairs, while his private life saw him dealing with his suicidal dog named Rags, and bonding with Ruck’s sexist chief of staff. The two polar opposites eventually wound up as besties and roomies.
Boatman’s depiction was one of the few gay men of color on the tube at the time, and he has the noteworthy honor of being the first primetime black cast regular of “our kind” for the TV set.
The married father of four shows no signs of having played-it-not-so-straight slowing down his career with any semblance of typecasting. His post Spin City life has seen him play a variety of characters, with
guest shots on everything from showing up on Law & Order: SVU to Hannah Montana.
In the past few years, the actor has been prominently featured as Sherri Shepherd’s love interest, Dr. Randy Gregg on Sherri and attorney Julius Cain on The Good Wife. Boatman is slated to appear later this year on Gossip Girl.
Bill Brochtrup, NYPD Blue
Gay actor Bill Brochtrup proved to be a popular addition to the 15th Precinct as its out administrative assistant John Irvin, during the cop drama’s second season. In fact, he was slated to appear on the Steven Bochco series for only two episodes, but proved to be such a fan favorite that he was brought back in as a series regular two seasons later.
In the interim, Bochco hired Brochtrup to play the same character on the comedy Public Morals that lasted only one episode, which should have been the amount of airtime that was given to Bochco’s disastrous Cop Rock.
However, the short time span was enough to give the actor the distinction of playing Irvin on both a drama and a sitcom. And by the time NYPD Blue ended its twelfth and final season in 2005, he could also pride himself (no pun intended) on the fact that he had played the longest-running gay character on
So, where can you point and click your remote to find him in a post-NYPD Blue world?
Well, he showed up at Manhattan’s FBI Missing Persons Unit, otherwise known as CBS’s Without a Trace in 2005, while more recently (2010 to be exact) he added the role of a funeral director
to his resume on an episode of Showtime’s Dexter.
Brochtrup (left) in a recent scene from Dexter
Dan Butler, Frasier
Dan Butler’s portrayal of sexist womanizer Bob “Bulldog” Briscoe on the long-running sitcom Frasier was butcher than the two natty Crane brothers combined. In short, the actor was very convincing as a macho skirt chasing sportscaster for the fictional Seattle-based KACL radio station.
So, it may have come as a surprise to some TV viewers (just the ones without gaydar, perhaps?) when he announced on a 1994 episode of Entertainment Tonight that he was gay, or as he later stated in a National Coming Out Day PSA, “I’m not a straight man, but I play one on television.”
At first, he played the macho, macho man on a recurring basis, before becoming part of the main ensemble for three seasons, and during Season Six was relegated back to sporadic appearances.
Audiences who wanted to see (and in one case, hear) what it would be like for Butler to play the opposite of his “Bulldog” persona could look to gay-related projects, which have included: More Tales of the City, The Sissy Duckling and Prayers for Bobby.
The versatile actor certainly doesn’t seem to have been typecast for being out; he lent his vocal abilities to the Nickelodeon kiddie show Hey Arnold!
But since his Frasier days, he has found a niche portraying priests and doctors on shows like Supernatural, House, Monk and the aforementioned Prayers for Bobby. His latest TV credit was that of a Congressman on Law & Order: Criminal Intent in 2010.
William/Billy Campbell, Dynasty/ Tales of the City
51-year-old actor Billy Campbell has been described in the press as a “die-hard bachelor.” However, when he was introduced during Dynasty’s 1984/1985 season, his Luke Fuller character was most
definitely gay with a capital g.
He swayed Steven Carrington (Jack Coleman) back over to our team, after the writer’s had him struggle with his sexuality during Seasons Two and Four.
Alas, William Campbell (as he went by during that time in his career, before shifting into Billy mode during the late ’90s) was one of the casualties during the show’s infamous “Moldavian Massacre” cliffhanger, which ended chances for gay fans of the show to see he and Steven share “special hugs.”
Comparably, his role as Dr. Jon Fielding on PBS’s 1993 miniseries adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City was the reverse of his Dynasty days.
There were most definitely displays of affection between him and Michael “Mouse” Tolliver (Marcus D’Amico), and even some full frontal nudity from the handsome actor.
The trend continued with his gay gynecologist role (kind of an odd career choice for a card-carrying homosexual), even after D’Amico was replaced by Paul Hopkins for the next two installments that aired on Showtime in 1998 and 2001.
Campbell guest starring on the Melrose Place reboot
Subsequently, Campbell showcased his diverse acting abilities as a private dick in Moon Over Miami, was Once and Again’s TV dad, and serial killer Ted Bundy in The Stranger Beside Me. He returned to his nighttime soap roots on The O.C. and reunited with his Dynasty co-star, Heather Locklear, on The CW’s Melrose Place reboot.
Campbell will next take on the leading role of Darren Richmond on AMC’s The Killing, a forthcoming foray into the crime genre for the network slated to air in March.
Al Corley, Dynasty
In 1981, Al Corley made television history as Dynasty’s Steven Carrington, who was one of the first main gay characters to populate the primetime landscape on a regular basis, following Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas on the soap opera-inspired comedy Soap.
But his time at the Carrington mansion was fraught with peril, including a fate worse than death, a marriage to Heather Locklear’s Sammy Jo, and a struggle between his father Blake (John Forsythe) and “special man friend” Ted Dinard (Mark Withers) resulted in the unfortunate murder trial that fortunately introduced Joan Collins’ Alexis character.
The straight actor was most likely able to pull from his real-life experiences, as the writers had his character struggle with his sexuality, which saw Corley abandon the role at the end of the second season. But not before he read his entire family – proving that reading is fundamental as a gay man.
Corley did return to the role, which Jack Coleman took over from 1983-1988, for the 1991 miniseries Dynasty: The Reunion and also spoke about his part for the retrospective Dynasty Reunion: Catfights and Caviar.
During the 1990’s, he was featured in the TV movies Hamburger Gift and A Kiss Goodnight, and since 1994 has served as the producer on 16 film projects. Corley’s latest screen appearance was in the 2009 film Stolen as Uncle Sam #2, which was also one of his previously mentioned behind-the-scenes
David Marshall Grant, Thirtysomething
David Marshall Grant is no stranger to drama, thanks to his time as Russell Weller on Thirtysomething in 1989. However, the commotion was not subscribed to only the small screen, when the gay actor and his castmate Peter Frechette shared a tame-by-today’s-standards scene in bed. Ads were pulled by sponsors, and the controversial episode was not shown during summer reruns – remember when networks used to do that? Show reruns during the summer months, that is.
Grant has kept his gay credentials going in a number of non-TV related projects, including appearing in the first Broadway production of Angels
in America and played Anne Hathaway’s father in The Devil Wears Prada.
In 1993, he co-starred alongside an all-star cast for HBO’s adaptation of Randy Shilts’ 1987 bestseller, And the Band Played On, which chronicled the rise of the AIDS epidemic.
His last listed on-screen credit was for the 2009 Starz Network series Party Down, which featured Megan Mullally and Jane Lynch, while he has now reunited
with former Thirtysomething castmate Ken Olin (he played Michael Steadman) behind-the-scenes as a writer and executive producer for Brothers & Sisters.
Peter Paige, Queer as Folk
Gay actor Peter Paige’s Emmett Honeycutt character on Queer as Folk certainly had a plethora of interesting storylines, and jobs, on the Showtime
series. The flamboyantly witty character worked in a clothing store, ran his own catering business and was a fixture on the local news as their
resident “Queer Guy” correspondent. Oh, he also was a porn star for his friend (and eventual short-lived boyfriend) Ted Schmidt’s (Scott Lowell)
website, which led to one of the aforementioned interesting storylines.
Through his time as “Fetch Dixon” on the adult website, he gains the admiration of George Schickle (Bruce Gray), an older wealthy owner of a, wait for it, pickle
company (no, seriously, I’m not making this up). After Queer, Paige split his camera time to being both in front and behind the lens. Acting-wise,
he was Steve Ball, one half of LOGO’s animated gay couple on Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World, and has also lent his voice to Fox’s American Dad!He also made the guest star rounds (pun intended) on Grey’s Anatomy, Related, CSI: Miami, Raising The Bar and The Closer.
Paige on a recent episode of The Closer
He became a triple threat as thewriter/director/star of 2005’s Say Uncle, while he opted to merely direct 2008’s Leaving Barstow, and was a co-creator of the reality series Fly Girls in 2010. Paige is set to reunite with Queer co-star Thea Gill (she played Lindsay Peterson) for an in-production film entitled Copacabana.
Jai Rodriguez, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
Rodriguez may seem like a strange inclusion here, since he’s better known as a reality show personality than an actor. But he does have his fair share of credits beyond whatever it was exactly he brought to the table during his time on Queer Eye.
Anyway, the show’s former “culture expert” (oh yeah, that was it!) has managed to extend his time in the spotlight after Queer Eye with a number of guest spots of the acting variety on One Life to Live, Nip/Tuck and Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World.
Beginning in 2006, he even left his mark on other reality series’ – I bet a little club soda will take that right out. Yes, I learned that on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
He appeared on Celebrity Duets, The Jury, Ultimate Style, and Styleyes Miami (is that a theme I’m sensing?) in 2007 alone, before his two-season stint as the host of Animal Planet’s appropriately
titled dog-grooming contest, Groomer Has It.
Ok, enough about him, ahem, playing himself.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his cameo as a reporter in the Lady GaGa/Beyoncé music video “Telephone,” as I wouldn’t want my gay card to burst
Rodriguez did appear in a larger acting capacity as Max Michaelson for three episodes on the 2010 TeenNick (or “The N,” as the kids
call it) series Gigantic.
Next up, he will utilize his Broadway experience on NBC’s new Kathy Bates legal drama, Harry’s Law, by portraying a transgender woman with two big production numbers and time spent on the witness
Mathew St. Patrick, Six Feet Under
For a straight man, actor Mathew St. Patrick has made quite a name for himself on numerous gay adjacent projects, mainly on the soap operas All My Children and General Hospital.
But it was his role as Keith Charles on Six Feet Under that endeared him to gay audiences, not only is he easy on the eyes, but his character was a cop, as well. Now, where was I? Sorry my mind wandered there for a second.
He played David Fisher’s (Michael C. Hall) tumultuous love interest for the entire run of the HBO series. Charles was one of the few gay African-American characters on the tube at the time,
and took on the task to make his portrayal a sincere one, as he told The Windy City Times in 2005.
“I just felt that gay characters are often portrayed as stereotypical, if you will. People have never really talked about love. If you’re going to be honest, which was to paint a whole human being, the center
After Six Feet Under went off the air, St. Patrick kept his badge handy as Detective Kenneth Marjorino on Fox’s short-lived Reunion, guest-starred on Private Practice and NCIS: Los Angeles. On Saving Grace, he was featured as Tom Harris in the episodes “Loose Men in Tight Jeans” and “Looks Like A Lesbian Attack To Me.” Somehow, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing him playing gay again.
Kerr Smith, Dawson’s Creek
Kerr Smith may have first caught the interest (and eyes) of viewer’s of the gay flick The Broken Hearts Club, playing a, um, catcher who literally gets hit on by Dean Cain while he is up at bat.
But, it was his turn as Jack McPhee on Dawson’s Creek that had gay fans of the show saying hallelujah, or at the very least singing the show’s theme song “I Don’t Want To Wait,” in reference to his character becoming the first gay on TV to lock lips on-air. While other shows had pulled away from the action with a last minute camera shot of a shocked castmate (I’m talking to you, Melrose Place!), the straight Kerr puckered up with Ethan Brody (Adam Kaufman) to make TV history. Plus, his character went on to have a healthy dating life, which culminated into him achieving life partner status (and raising a young daughter) with Doug Witter (Dylan Neal) by series end.
Smith’s post-Creek career has been comprised of temporary employment on series such as Charmed, E-Ring, Justice, CSI: NYand Eli Stone.
And it looks as though the actor had better get his head shot redone, as his latest project, Life Unexpected, aired it series finale on January 18.
Michael K. Williams, The Wire
In 2002, Michael K. Williams embodied the role of Omar Little on HBO’s The Wire, a decidedly different take on a gay male character.
Little was a stick up artist with a band of Mary, I mean, merry men and women on the mean streets of Baltimore that would hold up drug dealers and then delivered the ill-gotten gains to addicts, free of charge. Aww, that was nice of him, right? Oh wait; it was drugs, my bad!
The gritty role saw the heterosexual actor openly embrace his character’s sexuality, and he had his share of on-screen lovers, including Brandon (Michael Kevin Darnall), Dante (Ernest Waddell) and Renaldo (Ramon Rodriguez) over the course of the 51 episodes he starred in.
Sadly, Brandon was killed by a rival crew as a warning; Dante sold him out after being beaten up by said rivals, while Ramon stayed with him through the end of the series in 2008.
Williams has also landed acting gigs on The Philanthropist, has played three different characters on different episodes of Law & Order over the course of his career, as well as accomplishing the same feat on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Currently, he has returned to his old alma mater (HBO) and is featured as Chalky White on the Prohibition Era drama Boardwalk Empire.
Williams in Boardwalk Empire
So there you have it, no longer will you ask yourself that question. And, as you can see, you don’t have to look for these actors, like they are loose change underneath your sofa cushions. They are still with us, in one way or another, in the world of entertainment – it’s just a matter of keeping your eyes peeled, or rather, glued to your TV set to see them again.