Out actor Darryl Stephens discusses being Black and gay in Hollywood

Photo Credit: Darryl Stephens' Instagram (@darrylstephens)
Photo Credit: Darryl Stephens’ Instagram (@darrylstephens)

Actor Darryl Stephens became an icon in the gay community after he starred in the lead role of Logo’s groundbreaking gay black dramedy “Noah’s Arc” from 2005 to 2006. At the time, many fans questioned whether Stephens, like his character, was gay, but he kept mum about his sexuality until quietly coming out in 2007. Now, Stephens is explaining why he kept quiet about his sexuality and how things have changed for openly gay actors over the years.

In a recent interview with Salon, Stephens speaks about his new memoir, Required Reading: How To Get Your Life For Good, which describes his experiences as an openly black gay actor in the industry. As Stephens put it, although he’s proudly gay, it’s been difficult navigating through Hollywood while being open about his sexuality. For instance, being on the set of the film Bolden: “I was trying to illuminate the struggle gay black folks have in the world. So many black people are raised in the church and they are not welcoming of LGBT lives. There’s a tone—like on the set of that film, Bolden—a vibe to my interactions that discourages conversations about being gay. It’s understood that if you are gay and you don’t mention it, we can be cool. I thought if I don’t say anything then I can get by. Most of that concern was on me. And I carried that concern into that environment. I based this on the way I grew up, the concerns people had about me coming out as an actor, and [an agreement we had] not to discuss being gay in the press for ‘Noah’s Arc.’ So it was a personal fear. It was something I didn’t have a rational explanation for. I would get into a room with all these [straight] black men and my throat would close up on the topic.” 

Stephens then talked about the shift in attitudes towards out actors since his days on “Noah’s Arc.”

“When we made ‘Noah’s Arc,’ every interviewer was asking: Are the actors gay or straight? Now, with Jack Falahee on ‘How to Get Away with Murder,’ we know straight and gay actors can play straight or gay characters. It’s less an issue for the press. The culture is changing a lot, and you are seeing 12-13 year-olds coming out. There is no way I could have come out when I was that age,” Stephens said.

But that’s not all that Stephens had to say. Read what he said about black gay characters on TV, being an artist and activist after the cut.

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