Leading the Way

Ben Aldridge, the leading man who came out to help leading men everywhere

This profile is part eighteen of Queerty’s 2020 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year, in celebration of National Coming Out Day on October 11.

Name: Ben Aldridge, 34

Bio: Aldridge grew up in the UK where he showed an early interest in drama. In his teens, Aldridge began performing professionally on stage for the National Youth Theatre, before transferring to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts for further study. He later found his studies interrupted by the siren of professional work, leaving school to appear opposite Ray Winstone in the ITV film Compulsion. Roles on stage and screen followed, with turns in The Devil’s Whore, Vera, Reign and in the musical version of American Psycho in London’s West End.

Aldridge hit a new level of fame with a brief but memorable turn in the BBC/Amazon series Fleabag as a character known only as “Arsehole Guy,” one of star Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s rotating list of boyfriends. Audiences took note of his sex appeal and charisma, which eventually landed him the part of Thomas Wayne in The CW Batman prequel Pennyworth.

Related: Actor Ben Aldridge celebrates pride… by coming out!

Coming Out: At the height of his fame and sex appeal, Aldridge took to Instagram to share his truth with his fans. “The journey to pride was a long one for me,” Aldridge wrote alongside an image of him at a queer rights protest. “I love the LGBTQ+ community and am incredibly proud and thankful to be a part of it. So much won. So much more to fight for.”

The story gained Aldridge international headlines, even though he subsequently deleted his Instagram account (we hope it had nothing to do with his coming out). It wasn’t the first time Aldridge had posted messages of pride, either. In previous years, he wished his best to the community, though stopped short of announcing he belonged to it.

Breaking Down Barriers: For people who live their lives in the spotlight–particularly on the laurels of their own sex appeal–coming out remains a risk. For Ben Aldridge, however, the risk is worth the reward. Furthermore, Aldridge’s choice to come out as such a pivotal moment in his career–when he’d scored major parts, and with his career on the rise–strikes a major blow for LGBTQ actors everywhere: it is possible to thrive and live authentically at the same time. His coming out also strikes a major contrast with other actors such as Tab Hunter or Rock Hudson, who have spoken about the oppressiveness of the closet, and how the industry pressured them to conceal their sexuality, lest they lose their sex symbol/leading man status.

As he said when he came out, “So much won. So much more to fight for.” Ben Aldridge has helped push that fight forward. We’re proud to fight alongside him.