Sean Hayes Says He Owes The Gay Community An Apology For Not Coming Out Sooner

Theater Review Promises PromisesI was so young. It made me go back in the closet [with the media] because I was so overwhelmed at 26 or 27. I didn’t want the responsibility, I didn’t know how to handle the responsibility of speaking for the gay community. I always felt like I owed them a huge apology for coming out too late. Some people in the gay community were very upset with me for not coming out on their terms. They don’t stop to think about what’s going on in somebody’s personal life, and the struggles that they’re having. It was all very scary. We got death threats. It was a really rough time for me, but I was also having the time of my life.”


Actor Sean Hayes, who came out in 2010, explaining to Los Angeles Times why he didn’t do it years earlier while under pressure from the gay community during the Will & Grace heyday

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  • the other Greg

    I noticed this in the LA Times and was hoping Queerty would pick it up. Yeah, he seems to have been in a unique, generational bind. Nobody gave Ellen (a few years older) a hard time about “not coming out earlier.” Nobody gave George Takei (much, MUCH older) a hard time about not coming out in 1978 or whatever. But in the ’90s expectations were suddenly very different. Suddenly all gay celebrities HAD to come out, and in a certain approved Official Gay Way, so that some gay teenager in Bumfuck, Texas wouldn’t commit suicide (even though gay kids had been doing that for generations). Maybe it was enough just to play a happy, slightly slutty gay man on a popular broadcast TV show available in even the most rural area?

  • Will L

    This holds true for all of us and he is human like the rest of us. Yes, it is easier now that the world is less uptight. But it still depends on where YOU are ready personally. Whether you are “too new” to your career to risk it or just personally scared, we all wait until it’s right for us.

  • Cee

    I don’t think he owes the gay community an apology. The gay community should be more understanding. Being gay is not all there is to life. You never know what people are going through. He wasn’t ready. You come out when you’re ready, not when they gay community is ready. Gay people need to back it down.

  • bjil

    Bull!! he owes nada to no-one.Thats was and is his own choice when and how to come-out.Certainly not to be obligated to any real or fake community.

  • sportsguy1983

    I don’t what generation you are from, coming out is a personal journey and you come out when YOU feel is right for you, not when others think you should come out. Times may be different, but it is YOUR decision when to come out and it should not be influenced because you “owe” it to a “community”. He owes NOBODY an apology.

  • lickety splitz

    Coming out is a process of preserving integrity and reconciling one’s public life with the private. It’s a very personal process. Do gays have a social obligation to come out to make things easier for closeted gays to be able to do so? I think so, we have all benefited from the bravery of those who have come before us. But that is secondary to one’s obligation to oneself to come out when it is the right time for himself.

  • sportsguy1983

    No, individuals do not have ANY social obligations to come out. The only obligation they have is to themselves and those he/she cares for.

  • John Doe

    The above comments are very refreshing and are a bit of a contrast to recent comments concerning Shepard Smith. (Some comments about him referenced that he OUGHT to speak publicly about his sexuality).

    Unless someone is vocal in condemning gays or equality, I have NO problem with someone being private about ANY area of their personal life, orientation included. To place expectations on someone, even if they are a famous actor or journalist, does not recognize several unknown and factors within someone’s own personal life, as Hayes clearly demonstrates.

    People, even well-known gay men/women like Sean Hayes, live incredibly complex lives when it comes to their own personal / spiritual growth, the families they are in, what job they have, where they live, etc. Although there may certainly be several advantages for the LGBT society as a whole (for everyone to come out as soon as possible), it is up to each individual to decide how to live their own life. It isn’t up to another person, and it certainly isn’t up to the “gay community” to dictate, demand, expect, etc.

  • MikeE

    Ideally (notice that word), people should be free to come out early and live happy healthy lives.

    Ideally, people shouldn’t even HAVE to “come out” other than “oh, no sorry, I’m into [insert appropriate gender]” when the wrong assumption is made of their life-mate preference.

    Ideally, it always helps when celebrities come out early and clearly, since their very presence is a great emotional support for young people in distress about their sexuality.

    Ideally, I guess that Sean Hayes should have come out earlier. Maybe we should rather say: ideally, Sean Hayes should have been comfortable enough to express himself without fear.

    So I will concur with most of the above posted opinion:

    Sean, I doubt you will ever have the chance to read this but… You owe NO one any form of apology. Least of all to the LGBT community.

  • yaoming

    The only thing Sean Hayes owes us (and everyone else) an apology for is that new unfunny tv show.

  • Fitz

    That’s a kind of non-apology. So if you think he owes one, it’s not good enough- and if you think he doesn’t, then it’s too much.

    He was playing the stereotypical gay clown. THAT is why he needed to come out. It’s the difference between pastiche and mocking.

  • UCLADave

    YOu owe the gay community an apology ? well first you have to be relevant enough to the gay community to warrant an apology and you sure arent it.

  • MikeE

    @yaoming: @Fitz: @UCLADave: Wow! a lot of gay guys waking up on the wrong side of their tricks’ bed this week-end.

  • Cam

    This is a nice attempt by Hayes to try to dodge the real issue.

    The gay community isn’t upset at him for not coming out sooner. The problem was, when he finally did come out, rather than just coming out because he wanted to, he had a Broadway show that wasn’t going to do well and came out to get some press, AND he ATTACKED the gay community when he came out, saying that he had basically done more for gay rights than anybody and that gays were assh***s for not seeing this and wanting him to come out.

    If he had just apologized that would have been great. But look at the similarity. He has ANOTHER failing show, and he starts to do the right thing but then has to turn it around, play the victim and pretend it’s all the big bad gay community’s fault.

    Hayes needs to get down off the cross.

  • Dixie Rect

    Again, this is just more press, so the community will support him and watch that awful show, before it gets canceled. It’s all about the money, he could care less about anything else.

  • Gigi Gee

    If these comments are representative of “the gay community” then I say Sean didn’t owe us anything. Ken Mehlman owes us an apology. Ya, ya, I know he did sorta apologize but the damage he did will take several generations to undo. George Rekkers owes us an apology. All of the closet cases, er, “ex-gays” from NARTH owe us an apology. Mr. Hayes owes us nothing. I’m just glad that he’s in a good place now where he feels comfortable in his own skin.

  • Gigi Gee

    If these comments are representative of “the gay community” then I say Sean doesn’t owe us anything. Ken Mehlman owes us an apology. Ya, ya, I know he did sorta apologize but the damage he did will take several generations to undo. George Rekkers owes us an apology. All of the closet cases, er, “ex-gays” from NARTH owe us an apology. Mr. Hayes owes us nothing. I’m just glad that he’s in a good place now where he feels comfortable in his own skin.

  • Cam

    @Gigi Gee:

    So just so I understand this…..Hayes comes out of the closet and attacks the gay community, but he’s the victim and the gay community is evil.

    Hmmmm, Nice to see that Hayes publicist is paying their interns to post on here.

    Hayes has a standard M.O. Have a failing show, try to get gays to support him…but even when he is begging people to like him he can’t resist still attacking them and playing the victim. If THAT is how he acts when he’s trying to be nice I can only imagine what a nasty person he is when he isn’t trying.

  • Aric

    You have one chance to live this life. Do what feels right to you.

  • Rockery

    Well everyone is being nice, he is just about irrelevant now, so who cares?

    We can’t be hypocrites either, people put Anderson Cooper through the ringer for not coming out, but saying its OK for Sean to take his time?

    PS how old is he? (or how is he claiming to be)26 during Will & Grace? Did I read that right? I don’t think so…… If he was, then those must have been a rough 26 years, he looked about 38

  • Bellerophon69

    Sean Hayes owes nothing to anyone but himself, as is true for all of us.

  • RebeccaConner

    Herbert said I’m in shock that a mother able to get paid 6140 bucks in four weeks on the computer. look at this website,,,

  • Diesel69

    Thank-You–finally someone who has the intelligence to apologize instead of like all the others who come out and jump on the money–self promote bandwagon without any remorse of all the suicides that they could have prevented–people like Ellen DeGeneres–Rosie Odonald,Greg Lugainos–These people all came out after we outed them BUT No Apologies just grab on to the gay Gravy train and made rich from it but still have not apologized for their part in the self murders of their gay piers——

  • sportsguy1983

    How ridiculous to even hint at blaming people not coming out as a reason why some young people commit suicide. I take that back. It isn’t ridiculous, it is just plain repugnant.

  • SFHarry

    I understand people not coming out for various reasons. BUT, when you insert yourself into a groundbreaking TV show that explores gay issues and has an effect on the whole gay community you do owe the gay community something. He could have been, we’re here, we’re queer, we’re proud of who we are but instead he was, we’re here, we’re queer, we’re still very afraid. He also mentions he was having “the time of his life.” How very nice for him.

  • Cam


    Actually even that wouldn’t have bugged me as much as him basically attacking the gay community. NEVER once saying anything about the bigots, or homophobia. No, the gay community is evil because he claims he has done more for gay rights than almost anybody and apparently “The Gays” are not thorwing rose petals at his feet.

  • hephaestion

    Ken Mehlman owes us an apology. Sean Hayes does not.

  • greybat

    When was he “In”?

  • Bumper

    Sean doesn’t owe one iota of a clearance from the gay community. Its his life and he has done quite well and has come to support. We all take our baby steps in life. Let him alone either way.

  • Alan down in Florida

    Sean Hayes was in a glass closet from even before Will & Grace – going back to the movie Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss. I can just imagine with that already on his resume his agent and possibly even the producers might have put extreme pressure on him to not come out for the sake of his career. I’d also be interested how much Emmy voters would have loved his performances if they thought he was just a silly gay man playing a silly gay man. Look at Jessie Tyler Ferguson on Modern family – the out gay man playing an out gay man gets no Emmy love while the straight Eric Stonestreet plays gay and wins the Award.

    Sean Hayes owes no one anything and anyone who doesn’t believe that Will & Grace didn’t cause a sea change in many Americans’ reaction to homosexuality is an idiot.

  • suzuki

    Hmmmph. I clicked on the article when I saw the headline because I thought he was going to apologize for playing into the straight community’s stereotypes about gays on Will and Grace. Deciding whether or not to come out is his own business and something that I don’t think he should really be faulted for. Portraying a gay man as a caricature in the homosexual equivalent of a minstrel show, not so much…

  • tricky ricky

    nothing more pathetic than apologizing so as to drum up viewers for a show that might be being canceled. yes, i’m that cynical.

Comments are closed.