Sean Maher, who plays a gay man named Sean on The Playboy Club, says his sexual orientation is the same as his TV character, and living in the closet made him “miserable.”
Maher, who is a father to two children with his partner of nine years, has never publicly discussed his sexual orientation. He admits that he was nervous before the interview, but later adds, “This is my coming out ball. I’ve been dying to do this.”
Maher, probably best known for the cult series Firefly, recalls that when he began his career on the Fox drama Ryan Caulfield: Year One, he was advised by his publicists, who were unaware he’s gay, to keep his girlfriend out of the spotlight so that he doesn’t compromise his appeal to a female demographic.
The actor says he decided against being honest with his publicist because earlier his manager, who also had no clue of his sexual orientation, had told him to get a girlfriend so people wouldn’t presume he’s gay.
When he was 22, he was concerned that coming out would prevent his landing other roles.
“I didn’t know anything,” Sean said. “So that sort of started the idea of, okay, well, I’m working a lot, I guess I’ll just keep that gay part of my life on the back burner for now. I went so far as to sleep with women a couple times. It was a very confusing time for me.”
Maher found being a closeted actor to be a tormented existence. “It was so exhausting, and I was so miserable,” Sean said. “I didn’t really have any life other than work and this facade I was putting on. So I kept my friends from college [where he was out] separate from my work friends, and that was very confusing. I just kept going on and on painting this picture of somebody I wasn’t. I didn’t have time for a personal relationship anyway. And you just don’t realize that it’s eating away at your soul.”