Screenshot: Bros, Universal Pictures

Actor-comedian Billy Eichner knows he has a pretty skewed view of identity and what it’s like to grow up gay.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, the Bros star shared that he was privileged to grow up in New York with “very liberal, accepting parents” that “knew who [he] was very early on.”

In fact, thanks in part to his supportive and encouraging family, Eichner claims he didn’t experience homophobia until he was in his twenties, when he was first trying to get his career off the ground—and it came from his own manager!

“In 2006, I had a manager who represented a lot of Broadway talent,” Eichner recalled. “She’s a fairly well known manager who represents a lot of famous people. And she was trying to get me agents. And she said, ‘I’m inviting big agents to your next stage show. Can you make it a little less gay this month?’ And I was shocked. It was insulting, and also impractical, because that would be like literally changing my entire personality. I said, ‘You don’t really know what you’re dealing with, because I have a little bit of a rebellious streak, and I’m not going to deal with that shit.’ And they signed me anyway.”

Related: Billy Eichner on gay-for-pay actors and what you won’t see in his new movie ‘Bros’

It’s a memory that’s stuck with him ever since, one that’s shaped his perspective on Hollywood as a gay man and has fueled his upcoming movie Bros—said to be the first gay rom-com released by a major studio.


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And though Universal Studios is certainly going all out to promote the film to as wide an audience as possible, Eichner underlined that his first feature as a writer isn’t concerned with depicting a version of queer life that’s “palatable” to straight movie-goers. In other words, he wasn’t interested in making Bros “a little less gay.”

“We’ve spent a lot of our time as queer people telling stories about ourselves while being concerned that we’re palatable to straight audiences,” the Billy On The Street star said.

“For me, and a lot of my friends, when we watch some of those shows, although there are gay characters, we don’t recognize those people. They’re a two-dimensional sitcom character, wearing cutesy little outfits, and it’s all done with this satirical veil. There’s an archness to so many of the gay male characters we get. And one of my goals with Bros was, I wanted to be as funny as I’ve been before, or funnier, but funny in a different way. I wanted to lose that archness. I wanted the characters to feel like fully fleshed-out, complicated, funny, sad, three-dimensional people.”


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Eichner got to make the type of riotous, raunchy rom-com he’s always adored but never saw himself in. “As much as I love all those movies—Broadcast News, Moonstruck, Annie Hall, Tootsie— LGBTQ people are literally completely ignored and erased in those worlds. We weren’t even the best friend!”

“I went to see Steve Martin and Tom Hanks movies and I thought, ‘Oh, I could do something like that.’ It was only when I was in my mid-twenties when I started to think, ‘Oh, I guess I’ll be lucky if I can just play the neighbor on a sitcom.’ Because that’s what Hollywood was telling me.”

But the gays aren’t just the neighbors in Bros; they’re every single character. And, given what we’ve seen of the film so far—the butt shots, the foursomes, the delightfully messy queers—it definitely looks like Eichner’s achieved his goal of making a major gay movie that hasn’t been sanitized for mass appeal.

Bros opens in theaters everywhere on September 30.

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