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Actor Chad Allen’s coming out story—in his own words

Originally published on October 11, 2010.

After two hours of talking I finally took a deep breath and looked into the eyes of the man I hated. The cold eyes of my father looked back at me and they began to tear up.

My father was crying.

This was not supposed to happen; this was not in my plan. He was supposed to rage and scream and throw me out of the house. But now, my father was crying. What the hell was I going to do?

The day I came out to my mom and dad was one of the toughest days of my life. The truth is I really thought I hated my dad. I was wrong. I loved him. I really only ever wanted him to accept me, to be proud of me. I just didn’t think that was possible, especially now, when he couldn’t even look me in the eyes. I hated myself and I wanted to die.

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know I was gay. I may not have known what to call it, and, for a long time, I probably wouldn’t have even associated it with sexual attraction. But I knew something about me was different.

I have been acting since I was a child. On one of my very first jobs, I was playing a sick kid on some bad TV show, and Alec Baldwin was giving me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Alec Baldwin! I couldn’t wait to get to work. I would sit and stare at him all day long. I couldn’t stand not to be around him. I think I was eight years old at the time.

When I started high school, I was a full-fledged television star, and girls had pictures of me pinned up on their bedroom walls. I was a teen heartthrob for God’s sake, untouchable. But, it didn’t matter. Somehow they knew my secret. Years before I’d ever experienced the first amazing brush of another man's lips across my own, somehow they knew. I’d hear hateful words shouted across the hall or scribbled across my binder: “ACTOR FAG.” They were like razor blades across my soul.

How could they know? Maybe it was the terror I could barely contain in gym class. I was horrified to be left out but even more horrified to be asked to play. After gym came the locker room, which was even worse. I wanted so desperately to see, but was so scared that with one look everyone would KNOW.

Know what exactly? That I was flawed? That I was the sick homosexual deserving of God’s retribution in the form of AIDS that my mother talked about? Maybe.

A few years after that, when I was 20, I was “outed” by a major tabloid magazine. Shortly before, I had made the long drive home to sit in front of my parents and tell them I was gay. Sitting there, I wondered if my dad would ever look at me again. I thought my life was over, but it was only the beginning.

Coming out has led me on the most extraordinary journey of discovery and usefulness I could ever imagine. I have learned to love well, and I am proud of the life I live today.

I have long held the belief that those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender have been given an extraordinary gift. We are forced to go inside ourselves and determine, once and for all, that we are good. If we have anything at all to give the world, we are going to find it somewhere along that journey. We are going to show it to the world in a declaration of brilliant defiance against society and its rules. We only go looking because our sexuality forces us to. How lucky are we? But, it’s easy to forget the pain that forces us to go searching in the first place.

I’m writing this after reading a post of yet another suicide. This time of 19-year-old Zach Harrington who, according to a report in the Dallas Voice, took his life after attending a “hate-filled city council meeting” in his small town in Oklahoma.

I think I know what you must be feeling. You’re terrified and you think it will always be like that. It won’t. The world seems so hard, and you feel so different and so dirty inside. You are not. Man, I want to put my arms around you and promise you what I know beyond the shadow of a doubt to be true: you are the most awesome of all creations. You are loved beyond your imagination by a creation that has made you unique and special, so that you will carry a unique and special message to everyone you meet along the way. THERE IS NO ONE IN THE WORLD LIKE ZACH! There never has been, and there never will be. We cannot allow a world that doesn’t see that. You are whole, perfect and complete right now, exactly as you are. I cherish a world that knows how lucky it is to have Zach Harrington in it. 

I love you. We love you. Just hang on.

Chad Allen

Written By:
Guest Writer
Guest Writer
Fri, Jan 30, 2015
Comment by Bob Niemic
about 4 years ago

I'm certainly not a celebrity. However, I find it amazing how similar my discovering that I'm gay & my coming out to parents was to what Chad Allen described in his article here. Chad has basically written my "coming out" story, if you simply remove the child actor & actor references. My thanks to Chad Allen for bravely coming out a long time ago & for renewing his coming out story now -- at a time when teen suicides are occurring at alarming levels -- because of the prevalence of unchecked bullying & the prevalence of repeated lies, distortions & criticisms from straight members of the right wing of many religions groups and political parties. The truth is that there are an extremely large number of encouraging & supportive groups, organizations & religions !! that welcome those who are GLBT and those who are questioning. Chad was correct & wise in posting this story at this time. Many more who are GLB or T need to come out publicly now, more than at any other time in the past -- celebrities as well as "ordinary people.". We need to save the lives of those who are being ignored, ostracized or bullied by intolerant and hypocritical people who claim to have superior religious or political answers to questions that confront anyone who has to face the coming out process. Quite frankly, those intolerant & hypocritical people do not have superior positions or answers. The best answers about who you are are found within yourself, with the help of caring friends & support groups like those discussed above. Hang in there everybody. For those who are young & GLBT or questioning, let me assure you that IT DOES GET BETTER. Bob

Comment by Brock George
about 4 years ago

Chad, according to IMdb you're about a year younger than I am, so I guess I can be honest - I totally had a crush on you when I was younger. Still do, I guess. And when I found out you were gay (long after I came out myself) I was totally blown away that someone as talented and successful as you are would "risk" coming out considering how hypocritical Hollywood can be with their allegedly "open-minded" views and knowing that you might "turn off" part of your fan base. On top of that, so many "out" gay actors, such as Neil Patrick Harris, don't seem to go after gay roles, and those roles end up being taken by straight actors, which doesn't exactly broadcast the notion that "it's okay to be gay." So it's awesome to see someone like you and John Barrowman and others who take on gay roles and succeed. I also feel incredibly connected to your story. I was just a regular kid, not an actor, but your story is incredibly resonant with me except that I never felt that I hated my parents, although when I came out to them at 19 I thought I might lose them. I didn't. Although things were awfully strained for a few years, we're incredibly close and I hope you are the same way with your parents. I was more fortunate than you, though, since I was able to come out on my own timeline, without the assistance of tabloid journalism. Everything else is completely on-target though. Knowing that I was different without knowing what that meant, being called names and not understanding why, etc. And I also understand how you feel in terms of needing to reach out to others. I'm a Christian, a conservative (Libertarian actually, but with many conservative values), I grew up going to LSU home games in Death Valley and still love NCAA football. And I feel it's my duty to reach out to people in those groups to let them know that being gay is just part of who a person is, like having green eyes or being allergic to eggs. So many people are so caught up in trying to figure out where they fit in that they completely overlook the many places where they already fit in. Thank you for sharing your story and allowing me to feel closer to you. I will keep you in my prayers, along with people like Zach who don't have strong people in their lives to let them know that God DOES NOT hate them because they're gay. The God I know doesn't hate any0ne, but too many people are more than willing to do hateful things in His name, and I pray for them too - that they will let God into their hearts so that they can learn to spread His love without feeling the need to qualify it. May God bless you, and may He also bless anyone out there trying to understand how they fit into His plan. Brock

about 4 years ago

I remember being "introduced" to Chad Allen when he was starring in "Our House." We are almost exactly the same age, and I related to his character on that program. I also had a different sense about him than just a good actor. Who would have known that years later he would come out of the closet as gay. I followed suit a year or two later, when I was 22. I share his sentiments about knowing I was "different" for many, many years before actually coming out. It was extremely difficult for me, being that my father is a (now) retired minister, and I was the model child in the church all of my life, including graduating from a well-known Bible college in our denomination. I have continued that involvement today, but in a denomination that is much more supportive of all of God's children, gay, straight, or whatever. My heart goes out to these children who are hurt so badly by either religion, bullying, or anything else. Be strong, dear ones, the support is there, and you can do it! Thanks, Chad, for taking the time to write this. Mark (Decatur, GA)

Comment by Derek Williams
about 4 years ago

This heartrending. We need to get angry and focus our outrage. Religion is the last acceptable institution to bash people for being the way we were born, that harms nobody. Religion has got to be called to account for itself, to show empirical proof of actual injury. This is a battle between Religion and Science all over again, and we must not rest until all the chips are in.

Comment by Brock George
about 4 years ago

Religion is not the "bad guy" here - it's the people who use religion as a tool of oppression. I identify most closely with Metropolitan Community Church, but first and foremost I am a Christian, and my life has been better since I learned to frame my life that way. I'm also trained as a scientist by education and the only conflicts between the two are those that humans have intentionally put there (on both sides). If you have doubts about that, pick up a copy of the New Testament and read through all the words in red - the ones attributed to Jesus himself. Jesus spoke about most topics that relate to modern-day life, but never said one thing against homosexuality. I have come to my faith over many years and it has sustained me and I would be lost without it. I do not "jam" religion down anyone's throat, but I know I am blessed to have Christ in my life and it saddens me when I see people shut out of it as I once was. So Derek I won't tell you what to do, but I strongly advise that instead of anger, you give love a try. Whether you embrace religion or not, coming from love instead of coming from anger will enrich your life - I should know, since I have quite a bit of experience both ways. You need to find your own way, and I will keep you in my own prayers.

Comment by Kevin Calderon
about 4 years ago

Thank you for sharing your story Chad! I truly hope one day the world sees us for who we really are, not an abomination. I know things have gotton better, but there is always room for improvement. Here to hope! <3 kevin C-L ps youre dreamy!

Comment by Tim Gerhart
almost 5 years ago

Chad, I just discovered this web page. Thanks for sharing your coming out story, It mirrors mine. I had pretty good boy gaydar even though I didn't know why I was feeling the way I was. I had a major crush on you. But, back in the day I could not have put a poster of you on my bedroom wall. It is good to be free. Hope to see you on the screen again, Tim

almost 4 years ago

I think that many elements of Chad Allen's story are universal among young gay people. Certainly the details differ, but in principle most of our stories are similar. If only every gay person contemplating suicide could read some of these stories, T think God would be very pleased.

Comment by Douglas Matley
almost 4 years ago

I came out to my parents after hearing REv. Troy Parry preach, it was 1976. My parents never to their dying day (dad died feb, 1998), (mom died nov.2001). My mother thought that gayness was a matter of choice, that I could change my mind if I really worked hard at it. My mother was an RN and should have known better. I grew up on a ranch in Nevada and went to college in Sacramento, Ca. Mother told me over and over that when I came back to Nevada, a 4 hour drive. I must leave my gayness in California. It was hell to go back to Neveda for anything. When I moved to So. California it was a 9 hour drive to my parents home, so I felt safer. Now that i live in San Franciso (none of the family likes SF) I am free, but now am poor on SSI and pushing 60. I thought about suicide often but never did it obviously. In hindshight I wish I had the courage to leave forever my parents and grow up and support myself so I would not be so impoverished now, little money, someone to grow old with. Doug Matley

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