You go Glen Coco! It's a big year for Daniel Franzese. 2014 marks the tenth anniversary of his beloved role as the out and proud teen Damian from the comedy Mean Girls. Now, it will also mark the year that the actor publicly came out as gay.
In a touching letter addressed to his character Damian (via Indie Wire), Franzese thanks the pink Polo shirt owner for everything and explains his difficult journey out of the closet.
"You became an iconic character that people looked up to; I wished I’d had you as a role model when I was younger," Franzese, now 35, writes to Damian. "I might've been easier to be gay growing up. You WERE beautiful in every single way and words couldn’t bring you down."
Ten years later, there's talk of a possible film reunion, and Franzese even bumped into costar Lindsay Lohan several times in New York City in February. Though the role of Damian put his name on the map, the actor—who is now preparing for his role in the TV series Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths—acknowledges that it also hindered him in many ways.
"There were industry people who had seen me play you in Mean Girls but never seen me read in an audition but still denied me to be seen for 'masculine' roles," he continued. "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. Meanwhile, I was still in the closet. Deleting tweets that asked if I was gay, scrubbing IMDB Message Boards for any indication."
Looking back on his character's positive influence, Franzese has been inspired to publicly come out.
"My friends and family all knew the truth but now it's time everyone does," he wrote. "Perhaps this will help someone else. I’m not afraid anymore. Of Hollywood, the closet or mean girls. Thank you for that, Damian. (And Tina.)," Franzese continued in a shout-out to the film's screenwriter and costar Tina Fey. "P.S. I hate it when people say I’m 'too gay to function.' I know you do, too. Those people are part of the problem. They should refrain from using that phrase. It really is ONLY okay when Janis says it."