Actor Colton Haynes, 32, has shared an old photo that he spent years trying to get wiped from the internet.
Haynes says the image in question was taken when he was 15 and working as a model. The homoerotic pose shows him entangled with another model. Both of them are shirtless. The photo graced the March 2006 cover of gay magazine, XY.
Haynes says he was posting the throwback image now to reclaim it and to stop feeling ashamed or embarrassed by it.
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“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 15 yr. old 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 ❤️”
Haynes was born in Kansas. He spent his childhood growing up there, 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 at first, and Haynes later said he tried to run away from home.
Haynes found wider fame first in MTV’s Teen Wolf and then in the series Arrow.
When Teen Wolf first began airing in 2011, the XY photos began to crop up on Tumblr and other internet sites.
In January 2016, a fan posted on Tumblr, “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.
Since that time, Haynes has been more open and candid about his life, including talking about his previous problems with substance abuse and alcohol.
Yesterday’s Instagram image has prompted almost half a million likes in less than 12 hours. Billy Eichner posted “❤️❤️❤️” in response, and Charlie Carver also dropped “💕”. Actor Jonathan Bennett responded, “This is so powerful. I feel you Buddy. Love who you were then and love who you are now. 👏👏👏”.
Singer Keke Palmer said, “I thank you for posting this and hate what you went through but so glad it’s made you a vessel to cast out the darkness with truth and light!! 😍❤️”, while Michelle Visage replied, “LOUD AND PROUD, BABY”.
XY magazine made a name for itself when it first appeared in the late 1990s by highlighting stories of interest to young, gay readers. When asked if XY staff knew Colton’s age when it featured the photos of him in 2006, its founder and editor, Peter Ian Cummings said in a statement to Queerty: “Colton was not 15 when he modeled for XY, he was 17. Colton’s photos have a signed model release signed by his parent, which is industry practice for minors who model. His ex-boyfriend Gareth also signed a model release.”
Two hours after Queerty published this story, Colton Haynes edited his caption to remove the reference to “15 yr. old model” and replaced it with “teenage model” instead.