Curtis Hamilton

This profile is part of Queerty’s 2023 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year.

Name: Curtis Hamilton, 37

Bio: Hamilton is a rising Hollywood star who in the span of a few years has portrayed a major music icon, a close confidant of Martin Luther King Jr., worked with Oprah, and appeared in both a critically-acclaimed HBO comedy and one of the most polarizing reality shows in recent history.

Born in Pordenone, Italy but raised in Paducah, Kentucky, Hamilton grew up the youngest of five children. He attended Western Kentucky University, where he was an All-American wider receiver on the football team. After graduation, Hamilton had a brief NFL career playing for the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears.

Soon the acting bug hit and he moved to Los Angeles, securing small parts on TV shows like Rizzoli & Isles and Castle. In 2016, Hamilton landed his breakout role playing rap legend Dr. Dre in the Lifetime biopic Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge, & Michel’le.

He rode the heels of that success by portraying civil rights activist Andrew Young in the 2021 historical romantic drama Charming the Hearts Men, joining the ensemble cast of the OWN primetime soap The Kings of Napa, which was executive produced by the one and only Oprah Winfrey. He also landed a recurring role on HBO’s Insecure during the show’s final season.

Coming out: It was after wrapping Insecure that Hamilton did some soul searching and decided he wanted to stop hiding who he was from the world. Up until that point, he had kept his personal life private, and was finally ready to reveal he was gay …on national TV.

Hamilton was about to take this huge step by joining the cast of The Real Friends of WeHo, the contentious MTV reality series centered on a group of out men in the infamous Los Angeles gayborhood.

But from the moment the show’s trailer was released, many gays took issue with MTV shining a light on the LGBTQ+ community in a Real Housewives-esque format, something the network’s parent company already attempted a decade earlier with Logo’s The A-List: New York.

While Hamilton had no way of knowing how the show would be received when he signed up for the gig, his vulnerability balanced critiques about the series being focused on superficial relationships and catty drama.

After spending so much of his life hiding, Hamilton felt it was time to share his story with the world.

“I needed to mature not just on a professional side but on a personal side, and I felt like this was going to allow me to open up and be more confident and more honest to live my truth,” he told Baller Alert about his decision to come out on the series.

On Jan. 20, 2023, The Real Friends of WeHo premiered and Hamilton was finally free. But getting to that moment took overcoming the fears that held him back for over 30 years.

“I was super scared [to come out],” Hamilton shared with TV Insider.

“I hadn’t told people in close proximity in my life [about his sexuality]. One of my best friends found out on Twitter and was pissed. He just felt so bad that I didn’t tell him, but that’s just the life I’ve been living. For me to go on a reality show and open up to the world with something I’ve just been telling the people that know me the most about, it was really scary. But I just felt it was time.”

Despite the show’s critiques, Hamilton found the experience therapeutic. He wants to keep using his platform to help young people, and anyone else struggling with their identity.

“I’m at a place in my career where I want to be an advocate and voice,” he told Baller Alert. “I want to be a person people look at, and they want to find motivation and encouragement that you can still be who you want and who you are. That doesn’t define you whether you’re an actor or athlete or whatever you are.”

Newly liberated and prouder than ever, Hamilton’s voice is not only much-needed, but also a vital addition to the LGBTQ+ community.

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