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Robert Gant works it out

“It was painful for me, in retrospect, to have to sit with that,” Gant says.

Now he’s ready to follow in Ben’s footsteps in one more way: He’s going on the record. “I read your interview in The Advocate!” exclaimed Ted (Scott Lowell) when pal Michael (Hal Sparks) introduced boyfriend Ben in Gant’s first QAF episode. “You’re so honest and so forthright and so revealing!”

And he is.

Why have you decided to come out publicly now? Obviously you don’t have to do this. You’re clearly not being pressured to come out by anyone from Queer as Folk.

No. In fact, that was made very clear to me. Actually, the producers [Ron Cowen and Dan Lipman] were very supportive. Given the fact that they’ve been around for a while in Hollywood and have seen a lot of changes, I think they get what it’s like to be marginalized as gay writers or gay producers. And that still happens, and it’s a frustrating thing. Among the myriad of fears [I had] was certainly that—being marginalized.

The whole coming-out process is pretty artificial to start with.

We have to waste so much damn time getting back to where we started, really, which is without a diminished sense of self-worth. Were we all socialized in a balanced way—which is to say, to treat others with respect and love and kindness—this would be a nonissue. We have to go through so much pain and effort to try to reverse [the effects of homophobia]. We have to reparent ourselves, or resocialize ourselves. And this is the first time I’ve gotten to the point of thinking, This is just silly.

Especially now, when there’s such a range of openly gay performers. For example, I don’t think you and Nathan Lane will be up for the same parts.

I think that’s probably correct. [Laughs] In fact, you know, Randy Harrison and I won’t be up for the same parts. It’s just a different game. And even Peter [Paige] and I talk about the fact that we play slightly different parts. I [also] thought, OK, this could be the last job I ever do. I had to consider the possibility, as likely or not as it may have been, that this would hurt me. And I was counseled—I don’t wanna say by whom—[to stay in the closet].

By people in the industry?

People in the industry who are openly gay. Things were pretty split right down the middle with respect to those who thought that I should absolutely come out as opposed to those who thought, “Absolutely not, this will hurt you.”

Did the people who were counseling you advise you not even to take the role? Just not to go there?

Definitely some folks had pause. I’m happy to say that it was only a moment’s consideration for me, really. The greater consideration was, Do I come out? And that started from the moment that I got the part.

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