Difference Maker

“It can be a bit scary at times”: Garrett Clayton on the courage to come out publicly

This profile is part of Queerty’s Out For Good series, recognizing those who came out to make a difference. The series will run throughout October in honor of National Coming Out Day on October 11.

Name: Garrett Clayton, 27

Bio: Clayton grew up in Dearborn, Michigan where he began to show an interest in acting while in high school. By the time he attended Oakland University, he had roles on Days of Our Lives and Shake It Up before landing his breakout as the lead in the Disney musical Teen Beach Movie. He transitioned to drama with a turn as porn star Brett Corrigan in King Cobra, before returning to musicals with Hairspray Live. He is now starring in Reach, an indie flick which streams on iTunes.

Coming Out: Clayton came out  at age 27 in August 2018 during production for Reach. On Instagram, he revealed that he had a boyfriend–LA-based writer Blake Knight–and that it was time for him to make his sexual orientation public.

View this post on Instagram

With the release of my new movie REACH coming up, I thought it was important to explain why I took on this project in the first place. REACH deals with some very serious and timely topics that have affected me personally, and have likely influenced many of your lives as well. (I also prefer to share things that are particularly important for me here on my IG) instead of in some random magazine or online article – because you are the ones that have been rooting for me and following me on my professional and personal journey in life. When I read the script for REACH, I immediately knew it was a film I had to be a part of. I have personally dealt with suicide within my own family, intense bullying in high school, and – on top of it all – myself and the man I’ve been in a relationship with for a long time (@hrhblakeknight) have both experienced shootings within our hometown school systems, and have witnessed the heartache that takes place in affected communities after such tragic events. These topics – not always easy to discuss- are all close to my heart, and, knowing how serious they are, I wanted to share this with you all. This film has come from the perspectives of people who care deeply about these issues, and if watching it helps even one person… then it was all worth it. ??

A post shared by Garrett Clayton (@garrettclayton1) on

Making a Difference: Clayton has said the heavy subject matter of his new film Reach–which includes themes of bullying, suicide, depression, and isolation–prompted him to finally go public about his own relationship and sexuality. “Reach deals with some very serious and timely topics that have affected me personally, and have likely influenced many of your lives as well,” he explains in the post.

Related: Garrett Clayton models an umbrella, but fans are looking elsewhere

He went on to share his own experience with bullying, shame, and school violence in hopes that he might inspire others to get help: “I have personally dealt with suicide within my own family, intense bullying in high school, and – on top of it all – myself and the man I’ve been in a relationship with for a long time (@hrhblakeknight) have both experienced shootings within our hometown school systems, and have witnessed the heartache that takes place in affected communities after such tragic events…This film has come from the perspectives of people who care deeply about these issues, and if watching it helps even one person… then it was all worth it.”

Words of Wisdom, as told exclusively to Queerty:

Although it can be a bit scary at times – even more so for individuals who may still live at home and who may not have a safe space to themselves – coming out can be such a liberating and rewarding experience. It allows you to finally be your true self and to stop repressing any behaviors, thoughts, or actions that have kept you from realizing the potential of your own happiness. And what could be more positive than that? It’s soul cleansing… Luckily, I’ve had people in my life who’ve been supportive of me being gay. But I decided to come out publicly because I know that some people don’t have that at all, and I knew that if my story could help even one person understand that there was light at the end of the tunnel… well, then that made it all worth it. There’s an awesome support system out there, even for those who may not be able to find it in their own homes. Coming out is community and family. Coming out is love and acceptance: receiving acceptance from others, and accepting yourself.