At long last, Sean Maher is out and proud!
The 36-year-old Playboy Club actor announced that he's gay on Monday -- and he's also the proud father of two children, Sophia Rose, 4, and Liam Xavier, 14 months, with his partner of nine years, Paul.
"This is my coming out ball," Maher told Entertainment Weekly of his decision to reveal his sexual orientation. "I've been dying to do this."
Though Maher said he's never been asked about his sexuality in interviews, "I would be lying if I said I didn't paint a different picture."
When Maher moved to L.A. in 1997 to kick start his acting career, his team assumed he was straight -- and he was too afraid to tell them the truth.
"Right before I left New York, I had my manager tell me: 'You need to get a girl on your arm or people will start talking.' I remember telling him: 'I'm gay.' He had no idea. And he said: 'All the more reason to get a girl on your arm.' My agent was also like, 'It's best if you keep your options open. Maybe bisexual?'"
Maher decided to stay in the closet because he feared being out would ruin his acting career. "I went so far as to sleep with women a couple times," he admitted. "It was a very confusing time for me."
"It was so exhausting, and I was so miserable. I didn't really have any life other than work and this facade I was putting on," he explained. "I just kept going on and on painting this picture of somebody I wasn't. I didn't have time for a personal relationship anyway. And you just don't realize that it's eating away at your soul."
The actor -- who has since parted ways with his original agent and manager -- credited his family for giving him the courage to come out publicly.
"I have these beautiful children and this extraordinary family," Maher told Entertainment Weekly. "To think in any way shape or form that that's wrong or that there's shame in that or that there's something to hide actually turns my stomach."