life and how to live it

6 times Colton Haynes bared his soul & shared his secrets. It’s why we adore him.

Colton Haynes in 2015
Colton Haynes (Photo: Shutterstock)

Colton Haynes is admired for his acting, good looks and advocacy. But he’s also earned himself a reputation for his honesty and candidness, serving as a role model for kids everywhere struggling with similar concerns.

Coming out is rarely easy, and living an authentic life whilst juggling a career in the entertainment industry – particularly ten years ago – is even harder.

Colton was born in Kansas. He spent his childhood growing up there, but also in Arkansas, New Mexico, Florida and Texas. He has previously said he first disclosed being gay when he was 14. However, he experienced bullying because of his sexuality. His mother reacted badly, and Haynes later said he tried to run away from home.

His parents divorced. Haynes’s father married a total of seven times before he took his own life while Haynes was a teenager. In a 2016 interview with Out magazine, Haynes said he was told by someone that his coming out as gay played a role in his father’s death: a devastating thought for someone still coming to terms with their sexuality.

Like many gay men, some parts of Colton’s life have been challenging. However, he’s learned to appreciate that sharing his experiences can help others – and himself in processing those experiences.

Here are five times Colton bared his soul.

1. The public coming out


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A post shared by Colton Haynes (@coltonlhaynes)

Colton found fame first in MTV’s Teen Wolf (2011) and then in the series Arrow. When his profile began to rise, some homoerotic photos he shot for XY magazine when he was a teenager began to surface on the internet.

Someone posted them to Tumblr in 2016, saying, “When I found out Colton Haynes had a secret gay past I got so excited even though I know it makes absolutely no difference in my life.” Haynes responded on his personal Tumblr, saying, “Was it a secret? Let’s all just enjoy life & have no regrets :)”

Many took this as Haynes publicly coming out in a low-key way. He later did so more officially via an interview with Entertainment Weekly in May 2016.

“I should have made a comment or a statement, but I just wasn’t ready,” he said, reflecting on the headlines that his Tumblr post caused. “I didn’t feel like I owed anyone anything. I think in due time, everyone has to make those decisions when they’re ready, and I wasn’t yet. But I felt like I was letting people down by not coming forward with the rest of what I should have said.”

He later told Out: “I feel really bad that I had to lie for so long. But I was told that was the only way I was going to be successful. When you’re young in this industry, people take advantage of you, and they literally tell you that your dreams are going to come true. If you believe that, you’ll do anything.”

2. On the pressure from Hollywood to appear straight


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Haynes told Out in 2016 that an agent he had when young dropped him when he learned Haynes was gay, and afterward, told him to advertise on as a way to earn money.

In a 2017 interview with Andy Cohen, Haynes elaborated further: “I was literally told from the day that I moved to Los Angeles that I could not be gay because I wouldn’t work,” he said. “Then I was with my management team and a team of people that just literally told me I couldn’t be this way. They tried to set me up with girls. I was rumored to date Lauren Conrad for six months because they were kind of angling a story. And then I dated every other young person which of course I didn’t date.”

“They knew the whole time…It was like a Tab Hunter situation.”

In a series of now-deleted tweets he posted late one night in May 2018, he said that out LGBTQ people deserved more opportunities in Hollywood, especially since so many had positions of power in the studios.

“Hollywood is a very odd place. I’ve been here for 12 yrs. I just pray that the LGBTQ+ community gets more chances to star in roles. We’ve had amazing trailblazers & ppl who’ve made it thru the criticism thk god. It doesn’t have to be me, but this town is run by our community.

“Let’s just realize that we all have so much to give. It’s not easy being gay. It’s not easy growing up being an outsider & having to watch your back. Just because you like the same sex doesn’t mean you can’t carry a film. It’s acting. Execs need to start giving more opportunity. ?”

Related: Colton Haynes posts a string of late night tweets about being gay in Hollywood

3. On losing his virginity at 13


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“I lost my virginity at 13 to a girl and a guy,” Haynes told Andy Cohen in 2017, before clarifying “It wasn’t a three-way. It was separate instances.”

“I’ve never said that before. The girl was two years older than me, and the guy was, I would say, around 16…It was a real first time. It was exciting.”

4. Tackling his substance abuse issues


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In August 2019, Haynes shared a throwback pic of himself in hospital. His comment suggested the images came from a year previously when he began to tackle his recovery from substance abuse and alcohol addiction.

“I don’t want worrying about if I look hot or not on Instagram to be my legacy. I don’t want to skirt around the truth to please other people or to gain economic success. I no longer want to project a curated life. I get immense joy when someone comes up to me & says that my willingness to open up about depression, anxiety, alcoholism, & addiction has helped them in some way.

“I’ve struggled the past year with trying to find my voice and where I fit in & that has been the most beautiful struggle I’ve ever had to go through. Worrying about what time to post on social media so I can maximize my likes or being mad at myself that I don’t look the same way I did when I was addicted to pills is a complete waste of why I was put on this earth.

“I’m posting these photos to let y’all in on my truth. I’m so grateful to be where I am now ( a year after these photos were taken) but man these times were dark. I’m a human being with flaws just like you. If ur in the middle of the dark times…I promise you it doesn’t have to last forever. Love y’all ❤️”

Colton told Attitude in March 2019 that he was six months clean, and that before this, he’d been abusing substances for the previous decade. He said things really began to spiral out of control after he publicly came out in 2016.

5. His whirlwind marriage and divorce

Colton Haynes, Jeff Leatham in October 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA
Colton Haynes, Jeff Leatham in October 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA (Photo: Shutterstock)

In February 2017, Haynes took to social media to introduce the world to his then-boyfriend, florist to the stars, Jeff Leatham.

“It’s not every day that someone comes into your life & makes you want to be a better man. I feel so blessed to be by your side @jeffleatham #WhatMoviesAreMadeOf,” Colton said alongside a photo of himself shirtless in bed with Leatham (the post has now been deleted).

Leatham popped the question to Haynes on a vacation to Los Cabos, Mexico (with some help from a personal video message from Cher), and they were engaged by March of that year.

They tied the knot later that year in front of 120 guests at a Palm Springs ceremony officiated by none other than Kris Jenner.

However, the marriage was short-lived. Within six months, they’d hit the rocks, with Haynes posting a cryptic song to social media entitled, “Man It Sucks”, which recounts a failed romance after one partner cheats on the other.

This led some fans to jump to the wrong conclusion that it was about Leatham. Haynes felt moved to correct them, tweeting, “Jeff would never cheat. He’s an amazing man. Please stop being mean to him. The song I wrote was about a past relationship. ❤”

The couple made an attempt at reconciliation but things didn’t pan out. Their divorce was finalized in late 2018. Divorce papers cited “irreconcilable differences” but offered no more details.

Related: Colton Haynes and Jeff Leatham finalize divorce, promise to never write tell-alls

This is one area where Haynes has perhaps been a little less forthcoming and is unlikely ever to talk. In fact, it was part of the divorce agreement, according to People. The magazine reported the couple waived spousal support and each signed a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement.

Related: Colton Haynes is now engaged. Oh, and Cher helped.

6. Those teenage pics with his former boyfriend


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In June 2021, Colton made headlines again when he shared on Instagram the cover of XY magazine, for whom he’d modeled when he was 17 in early 2006.

He said he’s spent years trying to get the images wiped from the internet, even threatening some media outlets with legal action for reprinting them at a time when he was very much in the closet.

Haynes said he now didn’t feel any shame over the photos and envied the young man he was at the time, who was embracing their sexuality. He was photographed with his boyfriend at the time.

“I’ve never posted this picture before. In fact, I spent a big part of my career trying to erase it from the internet while I was still in the closet,” he said.

“Partly because so many ppl in Hollywood told me I would never work as an openly gay actor, but part of it was because I was incredibly ashamed. It made me sad to see these pictures I had taken as a teenage model…before I was placed with voice & movement coaches to straighten me up for the cameras…before I learned to see my queerness as a liability. I was jealous of him. The boy in these pictures was so open, so free. He had to be taught that it wasn’t ok to be who he was.

“Being gay is worth celebrating. I wish I’d figured that out sooner, but I’m so glad I know it now. To everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community, I hope you celebrate yourselves this month & always, exactly as you are ❤️”

Happy Pride, Colton!

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