Glee star says they were warned ‘not to come out’ despite gay role

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Glee actor Chris Colfer, who played landmark gay character Kurt Hummel in the hit Fox series, was warned not to come out in case he ‘ruined his career’.

The 34-year-old actor starred in the popular Ryan Murphy musical series from 2009 to 2015 alongside co-stars Lea Michele, Darren Criss, and the late Cory Monteith.

His trailblazing plot – a rarity for mainstream US TV at that point – included Kurt coming out to his father Burt (Mike O’Malley), striking up a romance with fellow student Blaine Anderson (Darren), and enduring a violent homophobic attack.

Although Glee is now praised for its positive impact over shifting attitudes on LGBTQ+ rights in the US in the lead-up to the same-sex marriage equality in 2015, according to Chris this was not always the case.

Now a bestselling children’s author, he appeared on US talkshow The View where he explained he was ‘advised’ not to come out early on in season one, and didn’t even realise his character was gay until he opened the script.

‘I grew up in a very conservative town where being openly gay was dangerous,’ Chris recalled.

In the show Kurt gets in a relationship with Blaine (Picture: 20thC.Fox/Everett/Rex/Shutterstock)

‘I remember when I got on Glee, the role was written for me, and I did not know what the role was gonna be.

‘So I opened the script and when I read the script for the first time was when I saw that it was an openly gay character and I was terrified.’

Despite the first season confronting Kurt’s sexuality head-on as he navigated a crush on quarterback Finn Hudson (Cory), for Chris it was a very different story.

‘When I started filming the show I had a lot of people tell me, “Do not come out whatever you do because it will ruin your career.” So I hid for a little bit.

‘But I also told them, “I can’t hide it with my voice… I’m more effeminate than most people. I can’t hide it.” And they said, “Don’t worry. As long as you never address it, you’ll be rewarded for it in the end.”‘

He was one of the first out gay teens on US primetime TV (Picture: 20thC.Fox/Everett/Rex/Shutterstock)

Everything changed when the cast went on a ‘big poster signing tour’ where he had an emotional encounter with a young fan. 

He continued: ‘This little boy secretly slid me an envelope when his parents weren’t looking and I opened it up and it was a little note that said, “Thank you”

‘And there was a little paperclip chain that was the colors of the rainbow, and in that moment I knew I have to come out.’

In the end, coming out was worth the sacrifice of a lucrative Hollywood career. 

Chris explained: ‘At the time I was thinking, yeah if I’m an openly gay actor I may never win a major award, I may never get to play a superhero but being a beacon of positivity and providing that comfort for people is way more important.’

Now he is an award-winning actor and hugely successful children’s author (Picture: The View/YouTube)
He spoke about feeling forced to come out back in 2022 (Picture: Albert L Ortega/Rex/Shutterstock)

The author – who recently published his 20th book – ultimately came out to comedian Chelsea Handler on her show Chelsea Lately in December 2009, aged 19. 

The star went onto win a Golden Globe in 2011 for his performance.

In 2022 when Heartstopper star Kit Connor was ‘forced’ to come out on X as bisexual following rampant fan speculation about his sexuality, Chris admitted he went through a similar trauma.

He told Glee co-stars Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz on their podcast: ‘I think the whole thing with Kit Connor from Heartstopper, that absolutely broke my heart, because essentially the same thing happened to me 15 years ago, and we were the same age.’

Chris published Roswell Johnson Saves the World! in 2024.

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