Hunky actor Brian J. Smith–known for roles in the cult series Sense8 and the action show Treadstone–just came out of the closet.
In an interview with Attitude, Smith discusses his feelings of dread and isolation growing up gay in rural Texas. “I was terrified. At school, I really couldn’t fit in anywhere. I wasn’t a jock or a nerd,” he says. “Forget about any LGBTQ union or groups. There was absolutely nothing. I was completely alone. I heard all the names: p*ssy, f*ggot.”
Like so many queer people, Smith turned to acting as a refuge from his torment. “In front of an audience,” he says, “I disappeared and became someone else. I had 600 students at school, all of whom probably thought I was an absolute idiot, a nerd. On stage, they paid attention to me, and they saw that I had something. And that’s when I didn’t feel alone.”
The acting bug became more than a hobby as Smith landed roles into college, and later professionally. His talent even landed him a spot in the acting program at the Julliard School, widely considered the most prestigious acting school in the world which has produced stars like Christopher Reeve, Robin Williams, Patti LuPone, Kevin Kline and Charlie Barnett. Smith also scored a major breakout in 2013 in a production of The Glass Menagerie, for which he scored a Tony Award nomination.
Even with his career on the rise, Smith didn’t feel comfortable coming out to his family until age 30. Fortunately, it went well. “I was surprised,” he recalls. “When I came out to my parents they were wonderful. They said they were just waiting for me to say something. They were a lot more advanced than I gave them credit for. I think that’s when I became OK with it, too. Just in terms of being, ‘Oh that’s the world, it’s not as dangerous as I thought it was.'”
Smith can next be seen in the USA series Treadstone, a spinoff of the Jason Bourne film franchise from out-queer producer Ben Smith.