Genetics | John Barrowman | News | Television

John Barrowman Goes in Search of Why He's Gay

In a new BBC program, The Making of Me, John Barrowman (pictured here at an unrelated appearance at G-A-Y nightclub in London) undergoes "a series of tests including a DNA examination that is compared with his straight brother's, and he takes to the streets of LA to try out a theory that the origin of homosexuality is linked to events in the womb that may affect the foetus."

BarrowmanAccording to the network, "Throughout the programme, as well as picking up clues from psychologists and scientists, John also meets some celebrities and extraordinary people who help shed light on the origins of their traits."

The Guardian reports: "The results of the programme - is it nature, is it nurture? - are a closely guarded secret, though Barrowman has always been convinced that sexuality is not a choice. 'I've always known who I am,' he says. 'That's what I believe. I feel I was born this way. I've never questioned that.'"...He mentions interviewing a Seventh Day Adventist 'ex-gay' man while filming The Making Of Me, who believed that homosexuality was incompatible with a fulfilling life. 'His idea was that you had to have the white picket fence and the farm and he was talking about it like it was something that I could never have,' says Barrowman. 'And I actually said to him, 'Yeah, but Ron, I have a partner, I have a dog, I have really nice cars, I have a beautiful home, I have a home by the sea and the beach. You can have that and be gay.' But he just couldn't see that.'"

But it was his contact with those who are questioning their sexuality that pushed him to do the show: "I have to put it this way. There are some days that I sign, like, 400 pictures, autographs and stuff. And among those I generally get a bunch of, say, four, five emails and some written letters from young men and women who are struggling to come out of the closet and they don't know who to turn to because they're afraid of their family's reaction and they're afraid of their community's reaction. So when they approached me to do this [The Making of Me], I thought, 'Yeah, you know, I really kinda have to do it.' I do think I've got a responsibility to help change perceived attitudes or try to change them."

The Making of Me airs July 24 in the UK on BBC1 from 9-10pm.

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  1. He irritates me sometimes, but I totally applaud him for being out and for taking his responsibility to gay and bi teens seriously. That's a really nice statement that he made. Good for him.

    Posted by: Sasha | Jul 15, 2008 11:37:21 AM

  2. Sould be interesting project. I have no gay siblings or relatives, that I know about, so I think I am unique. But I did know I was gay from an early age, very early. "As for you Troy Donahue, I know what you want to do".

    Posted by: davefromtampa | Jul 15, 2008 11:37:50 AM

  3. Haha nice pic Andy. I like him, I think he is real and means well. The show will probably lead to many different explanations, all of which don't have to be mutually exclusive.

    Posted by: Rafael | Jul 15, 2008 11:51:02 AM

  4. I adore him--his talent, his looks, his integrity about his work and who he is--although I agree with Sasha, sometimes his ego grates.

    Posted by: JeffNYC | Jul 15, 2008 11:55:16 AM

  5. Oh goody. Another chance for John to talk abotu sex. I'm sure this will be ground breaking and finally we can put the subject to rest.

    Thanks John.

    Posted by: Adam | Jul 15, 2008 12:08:28 PM

  6. I grew up in a very rural area that was an hour's drive from the nearest theater or supermarket. I would have *loved* to have seen a show like that when I was struggling with my sexual orientation. Bravo, John Barrowman!

    Posted by: peterparker | Jul 15, 2008 12:39:05 PM

  7. Peter: What the hell can you possibly be applauding? The show hasn't even aired. Do you know what they a gonna even say? Do you know that John's not suddenly gonna start using his open relationship as a basis of saying "Hey, we can do whatever we want. IT's all a choice."


    Posted by: For Peter | Jul 15, 2008 12:43:23 PM

  8. Ah, yes, it's good to know that being gay must be ok because you can have the house and the cars and the adoring fans even if you're gay. My life as a poor gay man is obviously a shame; and, unlike being gay, being poor must be my choice. Bummer!

    Posted by: Poor fag | Jul 15, 2008 12:51:46 PM

  9. Talk about sex, Adam? I'd say the problem is with your perception. Certainly the majority of nongays first think "gay=same gender sex," probably most of them. But just as he did in the interview when mentioning his partner, this gives Barrowman an opportunity to talk about what it is at least equally about—in my opinion MORE about: affectional attraction. Too many gay men still INTENTIONALLY send the opposite, singular message [think gay Priapism er Pride Parades] and too many of our businesses do the same [think 99% of our few periodicals].

    Last night I visited Different Light Bookstore, one of the few "serious" LGBT-specific bookstores left in the US, just around the corner from my San Francisco apartment. Hadn't been there for some time and was shocked and saddened by how much it had changed. Their previously relatively small selection of porn DVDS now took up several square feet, prominently displayed on both shelves in the middle of the floor and large bins filled with hundreds of others discounted. These, of course, in addition to the growing number of porn/soft porn magazines they sell.

    It's not as if there is a famine of such offerings in the 'stro, any more than I'm opposed to their existence [QUITE the contrary]. But there are at least SIX other venues in LESS than a block selling the same stuff, of which porn is the primary product of at least two. I also don't like that there are too many Thai restaurants in the neighborhood but no one's suggesting ripping us out of the state and US Constitutions because so many of us like spicy Asian food.

    But back to Barrowman. Even if the unrelated-to-the-series picture above was ill-advised [crotch grabbing AND an AIDS ribbon?], Barrowman is one of the good guys. He is such a huge mainstream celebrity in Great Britain and so publicly out that I can't think of any gay American who both has that high a profile and uses it so often to attempt to open minds and hearts.

    Can we please arrange a Gay Exchange Program with the Brits? What am I thinking? Is not just the dollar that's weak. What are the chances we could get one Barrowman and one McKellen for 100 Ross the Interns, 100 Reichens, and 100 Tila Tequilas?

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jul 15, 2008 1:15:18 PM

  10. Torchwood and Dr. Who are the best shows on television and I love Barrowman as an actor and a man - he looks unhinged in a good way.

    Posted by: FASTLAD | Jul 15, 2008 1:17:58 PM

  11. 1. "Poor fag": the poorest thing about you is your attitude. There's nothing in Barrowman's quote to justify your self-righteous, self-pitying translation. He clearly was simply using such examples to refute the self-loathing guy's belief that relationships and symbols of domesticity were not possible if he was his real self.

    2. For "for Peter": unless you can document something we're unaware of, perhaps you're confusing Barrowman with George Michael. From Barrowman's 2006 "OK" magazine interview when they did a spread on his wedding:

    "OK: Is fidelity important in your relationship?
    John: We are a couple who will get through any bumps or humps in the road. But we are not in an open relationship.
    OK: But do you think the likes of George Michael who have open relationships only reinforce those negative views about gay people?
    John: It happens. People cruise and I don't have a problem with George Michael doing it, because it is part of the culture. The press see it as salacious, but straight people cruise too, they have sex in public. But it's not a big news story because it's heterosexual. But I want people to see that there are other aspects to a gay life. It's important for gay relationships to be recognised. Then men won't have to cruise parks for sex or be bludgeoned to death on Clapham Common by gay haters for cruising in dark places because they are scared to be seen being intimate with each other."

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jul 15, 2008 1:27:55 PM

  12. Any chance of this show airing in the U.S.? I only caught onto John Barrowman by watching Torchwood in the last year or so and really find his attitude, outness, and candor refreshing. And if anything, his visibility has increased as far as I can tell (see closeted fearful actors, coming out isn't the kiss of death you might take it to be).

    Definitely got a fan in me.

    Posted by: Derrick | Jul 15, 2008 1:28:14 PM

  13. We don't need an exchange program with the Brits, Michael Bedwell. We've got Neil Patrick Harris, T.R. Knight, Chad Allen, Bobby Gant, Peter Paige and many others.

    Not to mention Ellen.

    What we need to do is suport them more than we do.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 15, 2008 1:33:37 PM

  14. Torchwood is available on DVD--we rent through Netflix. My husband and I like the show enough, but I don't think Barrowman's the best actor in it (that honor goes to co-star Eve Myles). But he's great eye-candy. As for his public persona, I too applaud his candor and his efforts at broadening people's understanding of a whole gay life.

    Posted by: David R. | Jul 15, 2008 2:01:19 PM

  15. How sad that there are so many unpleasant and intolerant homosexuals. It seems the majority of them post on this blog.

    John Barrowman is doing a wonderful thing and no matter what the results, nature, nuture, or both or neither it won't change a fucking thing about me or my homosexuality.

    The straights have to deal with us and fuck them if they can't.

    You queers that seem self loathing need to toss away your computers and stop bringing the rest of us down.

    Posted by: Bobby | Jul 15, 2008 2:23:42 PM

  16. While I totally agree with your last sentence about supporting them more [at least the ones worth supporting in terms of talent which would remove at least one from your list], save for Ellen, and perhaps Harris due to the combination of his familiarity from "Doogie Howser" and the egregious but apparently popular "How I Met Your Mother," your list does not qualify as having as high a mainstream profile as Barrowman does in the UK.

    Further, I would bet that not as many have caught on here yet that Harris has come out as know Barrowman's gay there. Search Barrowman on YouTube and one gets over THREE THOUSAND hits. Harris hits are less than 400. Of course, not all of those Barrowman hits communicate his being out gay, but do document not just his popularity but his ubiquitousness in UK media. There are clips of him not just from "Torchwood" and his many musical appearances, but on a variety of British mainstream talk shows where his sexuality invariably comes up.

    Second, while I understand and respect Harris, perhaps, still getting accustomed to being publicly out, so far I've seen no evidence that he's done one-tenth of the gay events/charities that Barrowman has. So that disqualifies him based on my second "exhange" criteria.

    Adore TR Knight, and he has done a great deal of gay-positive events in the short time he's been publicly out. And he is on a hit show, but even if an equivalent percentage of his fans from the show know he's out, he's not its star as Barrowman is of "Torchwood."

    Also love Chad Allen, whom I've met privately, and Robert Gant. Both deserve standing ovations for the many things they try to do for the community, including combining their profession with essentially direct [their joint project, the movie "Save Me"] and indirect [Allen's here! gay detective series and Gant's "Q as Folk."] But, again, they've not yet reached the level of celebrity that Barrowman or McKellen have. [To be entirely fair, McKellen dwarfs them all, including Barrowman, in terms of his mainstream film success].

    In sum, that leaves us with Ellen...and Rosie and Melissa Etheridge....and while very grateful for that...sad that there's no American male equivalent of them OR Barrowman.

    PS: Regretfully, Derrick, such openness is still detrimental to "lead" male actor careers in the US, and even in the UK Barrowman is an exception for his age group.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jul 15, 2008 2:29:27 PM

  17. "But, again, they've not yet reached the level of celebrity that Barrowman or McKellen have."

    It's funny. I just asked 4 ladies at the office here who John Barrowman is...not one knew.

    Aaked them who Chad Allen was...they knew. Robert Gant...they knew.

    Keep in mind these ladies love People, US, reality TV and go to movies weekly.

    John Barrowman is popular in the UK. In the US he's known by the gays and the geeks.

    I'll take NPH, Chad, Rosie and Ellen over John and his "fresh breath of air as he talks about his cock" Barrowman.

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 15, 2008 3:09:23 PM

  18. "ladies," Mike? How 50s of you. Obviously, your fag hags need to trade up—you're so vogue on the outside and vague on the inside. We REPEATEDLY qualified our characterizations of Barrowman's notoriety as residing primarily in the UK.

    Ask four British office "ladies" who Barrowman is vs. NPH, Chad, and Gant and you'd get the reverse result, so your example is both inattentive to what was written above, irrelevant, and ignorant.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jul 15, 2008 3:36:48 PM

  19. Everyone has a different cotnribution to make Mr. Bedwell. I don't share your low opinion of "How I Met Your Mother." Moreover NPH's gayness doens't stop at a press release. Recently he was on Regis and Kelly (he's afavorite guest) and when asked about how he was he said not all that hot because his boyfriend's mother had just died.

    Now feature this -- he made mention of this AS A MATTER OF COURSE -- just the way straights talk about sad occasions in their households. This is huge. Maybe not to you but in media terms he is making being gay part and parcel of who he is in a very normal, matter-of-fact way.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 15, 2008 4:06:35 PM

  20. With respect, Mr. Ehrenstein, you protest too much. You're entitled to think that HIMYM is little better than the fictional equivalent of the reality TV drek we both despise, but YOU were the one who offered NPH's name, among others, of those, in your opinion, manifesting in an equivalent or even superior way the variables for which I praised Barrowman and McKellen. Nor did I disparage him in my response, nor assert that he NEVER comments on his full self. ["I understand and respect Harris, perhaps, still getting accustomed to being publicly out..."]. In fact, nothing I wrote was critical of what the Americans you named do. I simply deconstructed the differences between them and Barrowman/McKellen. Just because I didn't express "love" for NPH equal to that I expressed for some of your other examples does not mean I was trying to be censorious of him.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jul 15, 2008 4:26:59 PM

  21. Make that: You're entitled to think that HIMYM is not little better than the fictional equivalent of the reality TV drek we both despise

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jul 15, 2008 4:32:58 PM

  22. Derrick, John Barrowman has dual citizenship. He's as much a US citizen as he is a UK citizen.

    Posted by: Barry | Jul 15, 2008 5:12:56 PM

  23. OK, so I finally just fell in love with John Barrowman. I've been a fan of 'Torchwood' since it premiered in the UK (Thank God for YouTube and torrent sites), but I've never found him all that attractive until now. The last bit about doing it for the young people who don't have anyone to turn to totally put me over the edge. I love a man who cares about more than himself, his possessions, and his sex life. Such a turn on.

    Posted by: Chas | Jul 15, 2008 5:35:22 PM

  24. This is not the first occasion Barrowman has made efforts to reach out to younger LGTBQ, so I continue to applaud his efforts notwithstanding the fact we have not yet seen this latest effort [that's for you, "For Peter"].

    Michael Bedwell, thanks once again for your first 3 posts. You are as always well informed and well written. Don't let the others drag you into their cat fights. PS coming to Castro next week, looking forward to visiting the non-porn portion of A Different Light. I'm hoping to have a book signing there one day!

    Posted by: ted | Jul 15, 2008 11:30:47 PM

  25. This is not the first effort Barrowman has made to reach out to LGBTQ youth. He should be applauded for his efforts and I for one am willing to do that now [that's for you "For Peter" the crow].

    Michael Bedwell, thanks again for your insightful first three posts; as always you are well versed in facts and well written. Don't let the others drag you into their cat fights. PS I'll be trolling Castro next week and looking forward to A Different Light [not for the porn]. I dream of having my book signing there someday!

    Posted by: Ted | Jul 15, 2008 11:37:07 PM

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