Mean Girls star Daniel Franzese is coming out to his own character — and he explains why it took so long.
Actor Daniel Franzese is best known for playing gay teen Damian in the iconic Lindsay Lohan comedy Mean Girls, but the star wasn’t able to be true to his own identity until now.
Franzese has penned a letter to that long-ago teen Damian, explaining why he hid his own sexuality for so long — and why he is coming out now.
“I was twenty-six; you were sixteen. You were proud of who you were; I was an insecure actor. You became an iconic character that people looked up to; I wished I’d had you as a role model when I was younger. I might’ve been easier to be gay growing up,” Franzese wrote in the piece published on Indiewire.
“When I was cast in the role of Damian in Mean Girls, I was terrified to play this part. But this was a natural and true representation of a gay teenager — a character we laughed with instead of at.”
The actor then explained that it was his fear of being typecast that prevented him from coming out long ago — a fear that proved to be reality.
“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,” he said, adding that some casting directors wouldn’t even let him audition for so-called “man’s man” roles.
“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. However, I did turn down many offers to play flamboyant, feather-boa-slinging stereotypes that always seemed to be laughed at because they were gay. How could I go from playing an inspirational, progressive gay youth to the embarrassing, clichéd butt-of-a-joke?”
Franzese said the experience left him so bitter that he began to deny his own sexuality, becoming celibate for over a year and even making a female friend his beard. It wasn’t until gay men began to thank him for his Mean Girls portrayal that he began to rethink his position — and today he is proudly celebrating who he is.
“By the way…in June I am the Celebrity Grand Marshall of the Portland Gay Pride Parade,” he said. “So… We go Glen Coco.”