Wilson Cruz recalls the time dad kicked him out on Christmas Eve for being gay


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Star Trek: Discovery actor Wilson Cruz has talked more about his coming out story, including how his father kicked him out of his house when he came out to him on Christmas Eve.

Cruz, 46, was speaking on the Creative Coalition podcast.

He talked about his career, and landing the role of gay character, Enrique “Rickie” Vasquez, on the pilot episode of the short-lived, cult show, My So-Called Life, in 1994.

“I was out to my intimate circle of friends, to my youngest brother… in my circle, I was out to everybody, but I wasn’t out to my parents. I think my parents were basically the last people to find out.

“So I hadn’t told them, then I got cast in My So-Called Life. We made the pilot of My So-Called Life, I still hadn’t told them.”

Cruz was born in Brooklyn, New York, to parents born in Puerto Rico. The family moved to Rialto, California, whilst Cruz was still in school. After shooting the pilot of My So-Called Life, almost a year passed before the show was picked up for full production. By this stage, Cruz was 19.

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“When we finally got the pick-up, I realized that’s when I had to tell my family.

“I made a bet with the universe, the next time one of them asks me, I will come out to them,” he said. “My mother asked first, and it was OK, she had a Catholic Latina mom breakdown and then she was fine.

“My father asked me on Christmas Eve, a couple months later… we had all of our family there, and my father asked me why I hadn’t brought a girl. I had brought my best friend from high school, a guy. He was drunk and decided that was when he was going to ask.”

“There, in the bathroom on Christmas Eve, my father asked me and I answered honestly, and he kicked me out of the house.”

Now homeless, Cruz says he spent the next three months couch-surfing with friends and living in his car until he began shooting the first season of My So-Called Life.

“My father and I didn’t speak for a year, and in that year we made 18 episodes, and one of those episodes was about my character’s own situation where he was kicked out of his house because he was gay.

“Unbeknownst to me, my father watched that episode when it aired and, as the credits are rolling, he calls me and says, ‘I think it’s time that we talk.’

“That was the beginning of a real relationship with my father, and it all came because of a show that so many people still come to me and say, ‘That show changed my life.’

“I say, ‘Me too.’ It gave me my father, it gave me my family back.”

Related: Wilson Cruz calls straight actors playing LGBTQ roles “awards bait”

Cruz, a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights, has gone on to forge a successful acting career on both stage and screen. He’s now best known for his role as Dr. Hugh Culber on Star Trek: Discovery.