Indiewire has just published a coming out letter by Daniel Franzese, the actor best known to the public as the "too gay to function" (but only Janis is allowed to say that) Damian.
In it, he recounts how it always meant a lot to him to play the one gay movie character that "we laughed with instead of at." At the same time, Damian also made it difficult for Franzese to get roles after Mean Girls' success:
When I first became an actor, I wanted to play lots of roles - Guidos, gangsters and goombahs were my specialty. So, would I be able to play all of those parts after portraying a sensitive, moisturizing, Ashton Kutcher-loving, pink-shirt-wearing kid? I was optimistic. Hollywood? Not so much. I was meeting a "gay glass ceiling" in casting.
After seeing him in Mean Girls, many casting directors wouldn't even let Franzese audition for more typically masculine roles. As for the gay roles he got afterwards:
However, I did turn down many offers to play flamboyant, feather-boa-slinging stereotypes that always seemed to be laughed at BECAUSE they were gay. How could I go from playing an inspirational, progressive gay youth to the embarrassing, cliched butt-of-a-joke?
As a result, Franzese resented the character he was best known for:
So, there it was. Damian, you had ruined my life and I was really pissed at you. I became celibate for a year and a half. I didn't go to any gay bars, have any flings and I lied to anyone who asked if I was gay. I even brought a girl to the 'Mean Girls' premiere and kissed her on the red carpet, making her my unwitting beard.
He also went to extraordinary lengths to keep his sexuality private:
Meanwhile, I was still in the closet. Deleting tweets that asked if I was gay, scrubbing IMDB Message Boards for any indication, etc. (It's important to note that I was actually DISCOVERED singing in a Florida gay bar by casting director, Carmen Cuba, for my first role in Larry Clark's 'Bully.')
It wasn't until people started coming up to Franzese, telling him how much it meant to see a "role model" who was comfortable "being a young and gay but also being a big dude," that he started taking inspiration from Damian himself. This prompted this declaration of his sexuality and of his comfort in being open about it, finally.
Image via Getty.