Party of Five star Sean Maher has revealed he is gay.

The 36-year-old actor said he was told by his agent to hide his sexuality and try sleeping with women.

Maher, who is appearing on new US TV show The Playboy Club, said he had a partner of nine years and two young children and could not bear to hide them any longer.

He told Entertainment Weekly: “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?’

“I went so far as to sleep with women a couple times… It was a very confusing time for me.”

Maher now lives with his partner Paul and their children, four-year-old Sophia Rose and 14-month-old Liam.

He added: “This is my ‘coming out’ ball. I’ve been dying to do this.

“I have these beautiful children and this extraordinary family. 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.”

Yesterday, Maher changed his Twitter picture to an image of himself for the NOH8 campaign.