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Robert Gant works it out
But whatever happens next, you can no longer mix with the gay world in an anonymous, private way.
You know, it’s interesting. I feel a sense of responsibility. I’m careful not to get into this trap of not respecting my own needs and my own desires for my life. And yet I know that there is going to be a call for appearances—[to serve as] a role model or something. I already get that feeling. And it’s interesting to try to balance those things because I do want to be of service. I do want to help change the world. I do want to help people get back to themselves because that’s what I’ve worked so hard to do for myself—to give myself back to me through therapy and through all the books that I’ve read and working on myself and getting to a point where I can tell the truth about my sexuality, for God’s sake.
You talk about how Queer as Folk has changed other people’s reactions to you. How has Queer as Folk changed your feelings about yourself?
Well, you couldn’t work in a more supportive environment with respect to sexuality because it’s the nature of the show. One of the things that makes it a beautiful experience is that people have a sense of the show’s specialness. People are actively learning to be tolerant, and you’re watching that happen. Guys [on the crew] who otherwise would’ve been really uncomfortable with two guys gettin’ it on are OK. They’re like, “Yeah, whatever, fine—we’ve seen it a hundred times now, who gives a shit?” And so it’s a very supportive and nurturing place that way. I feel empowered by it. I definitely do. One of the producers refers to it as this “pink bubble” that we all live in for this period of time [while we’re filming], and then we come back to the real world. And it’s interesting to see how the real world is or has changed or responds to this thing that we’re doing. It’s definitely made me more confident. And getting my deal [to return] for next year and the options for beyond were huge.
So we can expect Ben to come back, at least for the next season?
Ben will be back every episode next season. [Pauses] I am not foolish enough to be unaware of how my sense of job stability has helped my ability to choose this now. I mean, the reality is I was this close [holds up two fingers half an inch apart] to coming out right off the bat. In fact, I was prepared for it and really looking forward to it, and I told my manager, “I’m really excited about this—this feels right.” And then I just gathered the intuition that I should just take a breath and wait. So no, I’ve been contemplating this since day one. However, job stability absolutely is a factor. Not the factor, not the overriding factor, but a factor, yes.
What else would you like to do professionally? Putting aside your being at peace with the possibility that you won’t ever do anything else.
[Laughs] There are a lot of things I’d like to do. You know, there’s a part of me that’s a little spoiled by the opportunity to be doing something that’s so substantive, and so part of me wants to continue down that road. But I think the truth is probably more that I’d like to do some other things: I’d probably like to get back and do some more sitcoms. I’d probably like to play a villain. I’ve always wanted to play a superhero, which actually may happen next year. [Laughs] But no more about that.
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