Actor Daniel Franzese, best known for his breakout role as Damian, the “too gay to function” high schooler he played in “Mean Girls,” has himself come out as gay.
In a letter addressed to his Mean Girls alter ego — published on Indiewire — Franzese tells Entertainment Weekly that 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.”
So, why the hell did it take me so long to come out of the closet?
When I first became an actor, I wanted to play lots of roles – Guidos, gangsters and goombahs were my specialty. So, would I be able to play all of those parts after portraying a sensitive, moisturizing, Ashton Kutcher-loving, pink-shirt-wearing kid? I was optimistic. Hollywood? Not so much. I was meeting a “gay glass ceiling” in casting.
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. Telling me I gave them comfort not only being young and gay but also being a big dude. It was then that I realized how much of an impact YOU had made on them.
Meanwhile, I was still in the closet. Deleting tweets that asked if I was gay, scrubbing IMDB Message Boards for any indication, etc. (It’s important to note that I was actually DISCOVERED singing in a Florida gay bar by casting director, Carmen Cuba, for my first role in Larry Clark’s ‘Bully.’)
I had the perfect opportunity in 2004 to let people know the REAL Daniel Franzese. 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. Perhaps this will help someone else. I had to remind myself that my parents named me Daniel because it means “God is my judge” So, I’m not afraid anymore. Of Hollywood, the closet or mean girls. Thank you for that, Damian.
In an interview with Dish Nation, scheduled to air tonight, Franzese cites the 10th anniversary of the film as the primary motivating factor.
Watch the clips: