Sean Hayes: “I should’ve come out sooner and I’m sorry for that”


Former Will and Grace star Sean Hayes has accepted an award in the US from Outfest’s Legacy Awards and in doing so, expressed regret that he didn’t come out while the sitcom was on air.

An Outfest release said it was honouring “Sean Hayes’ portrayal of Jack on NBC’s Will & Grace took the stereotypical gay sissy and made him human, lovable, flawed and real. … Jack lived in a land where it was OK to simply be Jack — open, honest, funny, and real.”

But in his acceptance speech, Hayes expressed some regret.

“[The press release] said that I took the stereotypical gay sissy and made him human, loveable, flawed and real. While this may be true, I think you should’ve led with flawed because at the time, I was a young closeted actor having his first taste of a little success and unfortunately, in my mind, my lucky break was inextricably tied to me thinking that I had to stay in the closet in order to keep moving forward,” Hayes said. “Looking back at my choice to stay silent, I am ashamed and embarrassed. What was I thinking? As If any of you had any doubts. I mean, right, could a straight actor ever do this…?”

With that he launched into a rendition of Cher’s If I Could Turn Back Time

“When it comes to nights like tonight and honours like this, I’m consumed with what I didn’t do,” admitted Hayes. “I know I should’ve come out sooner and I’m sorry for that. Especially when I think about the possibility that I might have made a difference in someone’s life. I would probably be able to sleep a lot better than I do if I had acted sooner, but such is life. We learn our lessons only when we are ready.

“Today I stand before you as a proud gay man, and I humbly accept this award on behalf of all of us. This award is as much mine as it is yours,” he concluded.

Transparent creator Jill Soloway was also recognised on the night.

Source: Hollywood Reporter


  1. I love him. He’s so adorable. Even though it did seem obvious he was gay, I had a total crush on him on W&G. I can understand his comments, but i really don’t think he owes anyone anything. Did Debra Messing announce she was straight while shooting the show? I realise it’s different perhaps because people may have been inspired by him, but i think they were inspired by him and the show anyway. The show is iconic for what it did for representing gay people. But the bottom line is i don’t think he owes anyone an explanation of his private life or sexuality.

  2. daveinprogress

    I feel he was tremendously courageous at the time and has continued to pave a good path. Nice to see some humility (i think). I much prefer his authentic portrayal to Eric Stonestreet’s (lovable) but very stereotypical depiction in Modern Family. I recognise both performances as having lots of heart and fun but the writing of Jack’s character in W&G allowed him much more scope than the bigger ensemble of MF. When Will and Grace premiered in 98/99 i was more disappointed in the negative attitudes of the Will character. Jack was always out and proud. As much as i adore Modern Family and am happy to have the Cam/Mitchell storyline, i’ve never overly bought their coupling. It’s all progress. Of sorts.

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