Despite being 'out' to his friends and family since his teenage years, actor Sean Hayes refused to discuss his sexuality in public until 2010, when he told The Advocate: “I am who I am. I was never in, as they say. Never."
Hayes, who played Jack McFarland on NBC's Will & Grace from 1998 to 2006, has revealed in a new interview with Playbill magazine that he now regrets not coming out publicly during the show's run.
“I had personal issues inside of myself that I regret,” he says, adding, “I regret not coming out sooner and helping more people, and I regret not coming out during the show.”
He speaks of feeling unprepared to deal with the fame that came with the show, and of the fear that being an openly gay actor playing a gay character would see him typecast in his career following the show.
“I did like 30 or 40 commercials before Will & Grace where I was the straight husband," he says. "I had two spots on the Super Bowl in 1998 where I was the straight dude. So I didn’t feel pressure to hide [my sexuality] as much as I thought it was the thing I was supposed to do.
“I got Will & Grace and I thought, ‘Oh, this is different. I don’t know how to handle this. I’m not bright enough, I’m not quick enough, I don’t have the DNA to be a spokesperson for any kind of group of people',” he says.
Noting that his sexuality was somewhat of an open secret in Hollywood, Hayes continues: “Everybody in the gay community knew I was gay, but it was this fight I had with the press because they want you to come out on their terms, and other gay people what you to come out on their terms, and if you don’t come out on their terms you’re just an asshole, and you’re wrong.”
“Well, each individual human being has a lot of stuff that nobody knows about. Nobody knows what anybody else is going through at any point in their lives.”