Zander Hodgson opens up about being told he couldn’t model with a ‘gay voice’
Zander Hodgson, the British model who came out as gay in a heartfelt YouTube video earlier this year, has spoken out about the pain of being bullied for his sexuality.
The 27-year-old star, who has also had small acting roles in Hollyoaks, Coronation Street and Shameless, told Attitude that discrimination was still a problem in modelling.
“I was bullied a lot at school about coming across too feminine or gay, and my voice was one of the give-aways,” he recalled.
“After leaving school and going to acting classes, I started to accept and embrace myself more but there were still battles with my inner voice.
“When I was told by managers to see a dialect coach and that I might not book a job if I didn’t, you can imagine how I felt, to have a professional in the industry confirm my own doubts,” added Hodgson.
When he came out, Hodgson told his audience: “I wanted to do this video… because when I think about all the kids out there that are being bullied, or are really struggling with their sexuality, even teenage or adults, I just want you to know that you are not alone.”
The model, who now lives in Los Angeles, has now explained his personal connection to those who were bullied for being queer, after he realised early on that he was gay.
“I would dress up however I wanted, often in girls’ clothes or feminine, flamboyant costumes,” Hodgson remembered.
“I would run around the house singing to Dirty Dancing. I loved music by Cher and Britney, all the gay icons. I wanted to play kiss-chase with the boys and all of that kind of thing.
“I knew I was different,” he continued. “It was only when I started being bullied at primary school that I thought: ‘Oh, there is a word for this and maybe that’s what I am.'”
But despite being aware of his sexuality from a young age, he didn’t come out publicly until April this year.
This was perhaps due to the anti-gay sentiment which he said still pervades the modelling and acting industries.
“Even when the industry has so many gay photographers and designers, there are so few ‘out’ male models,” he pointed out.
“I think a question has to be asked:
“It has something to do with this homophobic ceiling. That’s part of the reason I came out – I was being part of the system by hiding my sexuality.”
Earlier this year, Colton Haynes called out Hollywood on its lack of LGBT representation.
The actor, who has starred in Arrow, Teen Wolf and American Horror Story, wrote: ”Hollywood is a very odd place. I’ve been here for 12 yrs. I just pray that the LGBTQ+ community gets more chances to star in roles.”
“We’ve had amazing trailblazers & ppl who’ve made it thru the criticism thk god. It doesn’t have to be me, but this town is run by our community,” he added.
And in March, Lena Waithe urged queer black actors to come out publicly, saying: “I think a lot of us don’t want to be public about it, and say ‘well that’s my private life.’
“But I think honestly, we have to be a bit of a beacon of light for kids of colour, who are thinking ‘am I weird? Is something wrong with me? What quality of life might I have?’
“I mean, I don’t think of what I’m doing as very revolutionary. I don’t know how to not be gay as hell. That is who I am!”
The August issue of Attitude is out now, and available here.