You go, Daniel Franzese.
Franzese, who is best known in the pop culture world for his role as Damian in Mean Girls, wrote a letter addressed to his Mean Girls alter ego – published on Indiewire – explaining that the time had come for Franzese to publicly come out of the closet.
“After the countless number of fans who have come up to me over the years telling me what an inspiration ‘Damian’ had been to them in their coming out process, I thought it was time I honored them and myself with the truth,” Franzese told EW about the decision to write the letter.
In the piece, Franzese discusses what a great role model the character of Damian is for gay youth, and how he wishes the character existed when he was that age. “When I was cast in the role of ‘Damian’ in Mean Girls, I was TERRIFIED to play this part,” he wrote. “But this was a natural and true representation of a gay teenager – a character we laughed with instead of at. (You can thank Tina Fey and [director] Mark Waters for that. I can only take partial credit.)”
He shared that it took him such a long time to go public with the news about himself because he wanted to play a variety of characters – and Hollywood notoriously tries to pigeonhole people. “One time I wanted to audition for a supporting character in a low-budget indie movie described as a ‘doughy, blue-collar lug of a guy’….They said they were looking for a real ‘man’s man.’ The casting director wouldn’t even let me audition. This wasn’t the last time this happened. There were industry people who had seen me play you in Mean Girls but never seen me read in an audition but still denied me to be seen for ‘masculine’ roles.” Franzese also notes he turned down plenty of “feather-boa-slinging stereotypes” parts as well.
“It wasn’t until years later that grown men started to coming up to me on the street – some of them in tears – and thanking me for being a role model to them….Meanwhile, I was still in the closet Deleting tweets that asked if I was gay, scrubbing IMDB Message Boards for any indication, etc.”
“I had the perfect opportunity in 2004 to let people know the REAL Daniel Franzese,” he continued. “Now in 2014 – ten years later – looking back, it took YOU to teach me how to be proud of myself again. It’s okay if no one wants to sit at the table with the ‘art freaks.’ Being a queer artist is one of my favorite things about myself. I have always been different and that’s rad. People have always asked if I was really gay? While my reps usually lied to protect me, my friends and family all knew the truth, but now it’s time everyone does.”
Read Franzese’s full letter to Damian here.
And one final thing: “P.S. I hate it when people say I’m ‘too gay to function.’ I know you do, too. Those people are part of the problem. They should refrain from using that phrase. It really is ONLY okay when Janis says it.”