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Film and TV

Sense8 star Brian J Smith comes out as gay and makes a moving point about sexuality

Josh Milton November 8, 2019
Brian Smith. (Greg Doherty/Getty Images)

Brian Smith. (Greg Doherty/Getty Images)

Sense8 star Brian J Smith has publicly spoken about his sexuality for the first time and revealed that he didn’t come out as gay to his family until he was 30.

The 38-year-old actor, who played Will in the Netflix original, explained to Attitude magazine how his Texan upbringing meant he had to refrain from coming out to his family.

With a career starring in the radically pansexual, orgy-filled show, Smith said he felt “terrified” growing up in the US state.

Sense 8 actor: ‘I was completely alone.’

Smith described how growing up in the suburbs snarled him, as he struggled to find his place in the world.

“At school I really couldn’t fit in anywhere. I wasn’t a jock or a nerd,” the cover star said.

“Forget about any [LGBT+] union or groups. There was absolutely nothing.

“I was completely alone. I heard all the names: P***y, f****t.”

Smith added that the feeling of having to hide who he was as a teenager is something he funnels into his acting.

“I could never be who I was,” he said, “I was constantly having to check myself and make sure I wasn’t looking at someone too long or making someone feel uncomfortable.

“I had to be very, very careful about telling people the truth about myself.

“It still reverberates. A lot of my work is about that.”

In channeling his efforts into his craft, Smith has created an IMDb profile filled with roles such as Gossip Girl and World on Fire.

Brian Smith came out to his family aged 30 and their reaction was ‘wonderful’.

While being involved on the critically-acclaimed Sense8 provided him a space to simply be.

“I remember being so relaxed,” Smith says of shooting the series.

“I thought: ‘Finally, I can just be myself, I don’t have to put on airs for any of these people.'”

Naveen Andrews (L) and Brian Smith in Sense8 (IMDb)
Naveen Andrews (L) and Brian Smith in Sense8 (IMDb)

But as nerve-wracking as coming out to his family was, Smith said they have been completely supportive of him.

Their reaction was “wonderful”, he recalled, “they said they were just waiting for me to say something.

“They were a lot more advanced than I gave them credit for.”

“I think that’s when I became OK with it, too,” he added.

“Just in terms of being: ‘Oh that’s the world, it’s not as dangerous as I thought it was’.”

The rules of LGBT+ activism are ‘changing’, says Sense8 star.

Moreover, Smith’s stint on Sense8 was a learning curve for him. The show’s co-creators Lana and Lilly Wachowski impacted him in a way he reflected on more than a year since the finale aired.

“The rules are changing,” Smith explained.

Writers and directors Lana (L) and Lily Wachowski. (Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images)
Writers and directors Lana (L) and Lily Wachowski. (Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images)

“And it’s right that those rules are being written by the people who have been left out of any kind of say in their own destiny for hundreds of years. It’s just time to listen and follow along and let them tell us what makes them feel good.

“Because as a white cis-gender guy, it’s time for people like me to shut up and be like: ‘What do you need, and how can I support you?’”

 

More: Brian Smith, coming out, Sense8, Texas

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