I’m not narcissistic - really. A little conceited at times, but not really. As an actor, you’re encouraged to reveal parts of yourself – but it’s always invested into a character. As a TV host it’s your job not to make it about you – it’s about your guest or whomever you’re interviewing, or your audience. So putting myself in the centre to talk about my most personal experience is a lot harder than I thought. How do you compress your story in to a few words and put it on the Internet where it can be shared, examined and taken out of context?
Well, here goes…
People say to me, 'you came out late'. I have never felt like I ‘came out’. ‘Came out’ doesn't feel right to me. I feel like I 'figured out’ – or rather, am figuring it out. It was slow. I had beautiful and very successful relationships with my girlfriends. While I definitely had unresolved issues and unexplored feelings, I don’t feel like I was simply hiding over the years that I was in those relationships.
The few experiences that I had with other men before I turned 30 were with other men who would identify as straight. Somehow, therefore, I was able to rationalise it as just a physical encounter – “obviously we’re not actually gay - I’m just somewhere on a scale”. By scale, I mean the Kinsey Scale. Alfred Kinsey’s research back in the 1940s lead him to suggest that everyone exists on this scale of human sexuality somewhere between a 0 – which was exclusively heterosexual, to 6 – which was exclusively homosexual.
The Kinsey Scale got a lot of airtime towards the end of my last relationship with a woman. I suppose our idea was that trying to find myself on the scale would lead to a breakthrough “Oh that’s it – I’m a 4!” What does that actually mean? Will I now perhaps be able to fit in to some kind of subculture with all the other 4s? It makes so much sense to try to find a way to identify with labels, groups, or scales, in order to make life easier for you and those you love. For some people, things aren’t just black and white. For me some things can be fluid throughout your life – including your sexuality.
I remember having these big talks with my girlfriend in 2007 (she of the Kinsey scale conversations) and how that felt. We loved each other very much but I was reaching a point where I knew that I was not capable of being the kind of partner she wanted and that frankly she deserved. I was having feelings that I’d never experienced before and I had an obligation to be honest to myself and to her.
It was a terrible time of upheaval and confusion and at times loneliness. I was playing one of the most iconic gay characters – Felicia in Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical; I was surrounded by the ‘gamut of gay’ including gay men in beautiful, loving relationships. You would think it was a really safe environment, but actually it was terrifying. I fell hard for one of my cast mates – we all know how these things end. It was a hot mess. I had a couple of confidantes there at the time that are still my close friends, including Jacki Weaver and Trevor Ashley.
I left Australia because I wanted to explore the world, carve out new adventures and be anonymous. I was not some kind of huge celebrity in Australia, but after 13 years in the entertainment industry in Sydney, it had become a very small town. I wanted to be able to start from scratch and introduce myself as the person I now was – or was becoming. I wanted someone’s first impression of me to be of the person they were meeting, the person who I was right now rather than the person they believed me to be.
"Even if the occasional person there still recognised me from Home and Away (and they did) they didn’t actually know me."
Even if the occasional person there still recognised me from Home and Away (and they did) they didn’t actually know me. People in London hadn’t worked with me for the last 13 years or gone to school with me or had 20 years of history with me and my family - I think that was a big part of my personal coping mechanism.
Being away from my family was important, too. My family means everything to me, but I didn’t need to take them through the minutiae of my experience. I didn’t need them to worry or to try to influence me. I didn’t need them to see me dealing with this change as it happened – I just needed them to know that I was happy and healthy and surviving. Most of the time I was. With that distance though did come sadness. I lost my grandmother and uncle within three weeks of each other while I was unable to get back to Australia for Christmas in 2009. That was probably the most isolated I’d ever felt in my life.
But being surrounded by great friends, all dealing with the hardships and wonders of London living, acting in big shows then not acting at all, as well as traveling around Europe and having my mind regularly blown, I started becoming my most authentic self. I realised I didn't require a number on a scale, a label, a sub-culture to belong to or an explanation to anyone else to make them or me feel more comfortable. I’m just me.
I’m now based in Los Angeles, and I love it. Admittedly it’s not widely thought of as the home of the most authentic people on the planet - and Hollywood could even be blamed for some of the shame culture that exists in society about sexuality. But there are authentic and thoughtful people from Hollywood who have made a difference when it comes to the way that people who aren’t ‘straight’ are presented in the media.