“All the people close to me have known for years who I am,” actor Joel Grey tells People in a new interview. “[Yet] it took time to embrace that other part of who I always was.”
The Broadway legend and Academy Award-winning actor just came out as gay… at 82 years old. It is the first time he has ever discussed his sexuality publicly.
“I don’t like labels,” Grey says, “but if you have to put a label on it, I’m a gay man.”
Grey is perhaps best known for portraying the Master of Ceremonies in both the stage and film versions of the musical Cabaret, for which he won the Academy Award, Tony Award, and Golden Globe Award.
He explains that being gay was much different for a man of his generation. As a young person growing up in Cleveland, OH, he still remembers “hearing the grownups talk in the next room, my mother included, talking derisively about ‘fairies’ and men being dragged off to jail and even worse for being who they were.”
Grey says that at a young age, “I came to realize, along with being attracted to girls, I had similar feelings for boys.” But he didn’t accept this part of himself until much later, after he was married to a woman for 24 years and had raised two children.
Grey’s daughter, Jennifer, also spoke to People, saying she was proud of her father.
“I feel very happy for my dad that he has come to a point in his life where he feels safe and comfortable enough to declare himself in a public way as a gay man,” she says. “Mostly because the more people are free to own their true nature and can hopefully come closer to love and accept themselves as they really are, no matter what age, no matter how long it takes, to finally be free of the lies or half truths, it is freedom.”