Speaking his truth. Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey, who will be at the center of the period drama’s upcoming second season, opened up about hiding his sexuality at the start of his onscreen career.
The 33-year-old actor came out to his friends and family in his 20s, but he endured prejudice in the television world, revealing that he was deeply affected by the advice an actor friend received from someone in the industry.
“At the time, he was told, ‘There’s two things we don’t want to know: if you’re an alcoholic or if you’re gay,’” the British star recalled to GQ during an interview published on Wednesday, March 9, relaying how much those words had an impact on him. “All it takes is for one of those people in that position of power to say that, and it ripples through. So, yeah, of course I thought that. Of course I thought that in order to be happy I needed to be straight.”
Bailey is serious about his craft, telling the magazine, “In 20 years, you don’t want to be famous. You want a sustained career.” However, he eventually realized that his happiness and the freedom to be himself comes before everything.
“I reached a point where I thought, ‘F—k this, I’d much prefer to hold my boyfriend’s hand in public or be able to put my own face picture on Tinder and not be so concerned about that than getting a part,” the Olivier Award winner explained.
The Crashing alum has been outspoken about homophobia in the entertainment industry before. In March 2021, Bailey spoke to the Evening Standard about the “history of needing to be closeted to succeed and be famous, especially in acting.” The Broadchurch actor, who portrays the heterosexual Lord Anthony Bridgerton on the Shonda Rhimes-produced Netflix series, scoffed at “the idea of not being able to believe heterosexual relations and narrative if you know one of the actors is gay,” noting, “Everyone should be able to play absolutely everything.”
Still, he pointed out, “There just aren’t that many gay roles, so when straight actors go to take that space up, it’s eliminating the chance for other [gay actors].”
As for those fan-favorite “relations” in which his character partakes on the show, Bailey doesn’t exactly see himself as a Hollywood hunk.
“Any actor who thinks they’re a sex symbol? Cringe,” he told GQ.
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Season 2 of Bridgerton premieres on Netflix March 25.
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