Tyler Blackburn has spoken about his queer identity as he takes on a new role as a gay war veteran in Roswell, New Mexico.
The actor told Advocate that he has identified as bisexual since he was a teenager.
“I’m queer,” he said. “I just want to feel powerful in my own skin, and my own mind, and in my own heart.”
He opened up about growing up in LA as an “effeminate” boy, something which cause him “self-hatred and shame” during his formative years.
“I just want to feel powerful in my own skin.”
“I got bullied a lot by other boys, and I just felt like my soul was slowly being taken from me,” he said.
“I stopped doing so many of the things that I loved doing because it felt safer. That right there is the outcome of oppression. When you literally have to mute who you are in order to feel safe. That’s soul-crushing.”
Tyler Blackburn suppressed being bisexual
Throughout his 20s Blackburn suppressed his attraction to men, feeling the weight of bi-erasure.
“I heard so many things from within the queer community about bisexuality being a cop-out or the easy way out, and that always stuck with me because I felt the pressure from all sides to have my sexuality figured out,” he said.
After a string of relationships with women, he said that he “allowed himself” to explore the full spectrum of his sexual in his late 20s.
Blackburn shot to fame in 2010 as Caleb Rivers in Pretty Little Liars, a role he played until the series ended in 2017.
The franchise returned in March 2019 (without Caleb) in a new spin-off series, Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, which revealed the fate of lesbian couple Emily and Alison.
For Blackburn’s latest project, Roswell, New Mexico, he plays Alex Manes, a gay war veteran and amputee.
In light of the ongoing debate around LGBT+ people serving in the military, Blackburn admitted that he feels “a big responsibility” to the community.