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Michael Urie Plays Early Gay Activist, Won't Discuss His Own Sexuality


Ugly Betty actor Michael Urie, who is starring in a play right now called The Temperamentals, about the formation of the nation's first pre-Stonewall gay rights organization, The Mattachine Society, refuses to discuss his own sexuality with New York magazine:

In the context of this play, it's almost impossible not to ask you about your own sexuality. You've never really publicly declared it, but on your own website, you identify yourself as "a member of the LGBT community" and say that organizations that help people with HIV/AIDS or people who are LGBT are "A-Number 1 in my book!" So what's the deal?

Well, that's my M.O. I'm interested in keeping — you know, actors have to be able to do lots of different things, and while I'd say there's an ongoing theme [to the parts I play], I'm also not interested in having any real publicity about who I am and what my private life is and things like that. I'm an actor and I don't want to be a [fill-in-the-] blank actor.

Do you really think that saying "I'm gay" would stop you from getting an array of roles?

That's not really the point. By using publicity to say something like that, it could become a person's M.O, and I'm not interested in that. I really think this article should be about The Temperamentals. I understand where you're coming from and why you think this is important and that this is a play about being true to yourself. But artists and activists are not quite the same thing, and I feel like support can come from lots of different ways.

Do you get sick of reporters asking you about this?

They don't ask about it as much as you might think. Actually, it's been a long time since anyone asked it. I don't think it's really newsworthy if the gay guy from Ugly Betty is gay or not.

Except, of course, if he's playing a character "who left before he could be outed to become a fashion designer so influential he made the cover of Time in 1967" in a play about gays who stood up for themselves by coming out. 

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  1. Gawd, some things never change. He's a cute guy who just became a lot less cute to me.

    Posted by: J. J. | Jun 30, 2009 12:30:55 PM

  2. "A member of the LGBT community", but not a *proud* member.


    Posted by: JeffRob | Jun 30, 2009 12:38:17 PM

  3. ok, this was sort of the problem i had with "Milk"

    that film was a necessary story to be told & i thought everything about it was pretty much great & timely

    however, none of the Hollywood actors who played in it could really be out irl (if they wanted to be - assuming at minimum one of the actors in it is gay)

    there's a strange veil in the mainstream acting community, despite the message of the source material

    anyway, that's Urie's prerogative, but again this is the same conundrum that "Milk" posed when i was watching it

    i think you have to keep track of the bigger picture & the overall epression of the production

    Posted by: sundog | Jun 30, 2009 12:45:06 PM

  4. While I understand his point of view (the desire to be a blank canvas for "artistic" purposes) — it's rather sad that he doesn't have the personal (professional?) confidence to just be honest about it.

    Posted by: brian | Jun 30, 2009 12:46:10 PM

  5. Whatever. . .I've seen him out and about in Hell's Kitchen with a cozy male companion. 'Nuff said. He can admit his truth without making it a big scene (i.e., Neil Patrick Harris's non-chalant outing). Besides, even if he did admit it, I doubt it'd be considered that newsworthy. By refusing to confirm the obvious, however, he's attributing shame to gay sexuality, which is really at odds with this role and the message of the play.

    Posted by: Jay | Jun 30, 2009 12:46:35 PM

  6. What an ass.

    Posted by: Jeffrey | Jun 30, 2009 12:53:07 PM

  7. What I find sad is people who feel it's their prerogative to determine what a person should and should not do with their own life. Whether Michael Urie's gay, straight or gelded makes absolutely no difference to me, nor should it make any difference to anyone else. He's not passing laws against gay people. He's not condemning us. He's not saying we shouldn't have rights like some self-loathing fags in both Washington and Hollywood have. That sort of hypocrisy DOES need to be screamed about.

    But Michael's just an actor playing a role in a play and a TV show and is building his career as best as he sees fit, and for anyone on either side of the issue to tell him how he should do that is nosy, obnoxious and just plain wrong.

    Posted by: Kyle Sullivan | Jun 30, 2009 12:55:14 PM

  8. Sundog, this isn't just a problem in the acting community. It's a problem in the real world.

    The greatest weapon religious extremists and homophobes have is not the Bible or fearmongering. It's closeted homosexuals.

    Every poll taken on the subject has proven that people who have a gay friend or family member are far more likely to support gay rights than those who don't - or at least think they don't. The battle for respect is not going to be won with laws or executive orders - though we need those - it's going to be won in the hearts and minds of individuals, one person at a time.

    Harvey Milk said it best: You must come out. You must tell your doctor. You must tell your lawyer. You must tell your friends - if indeed they are your friends. you must tell your family. And when you do, you will feel so much better.

    Posted by: Hank Drake | Jun 30, 2009 12:55:22 PM

  9. This is just so damned silly. He's palyed all sorts of gay roles -- including a marvelous little indie called "WTC View"

    Acknowledging the fact you're gay doesn't mean anyone has to know anything about your "personal life." Look at Cheyenne Jackson. His boyfriend (lucky bastard!) doesn't want to be in the spotlight and Cheyenne has kept him out of it. Simple as pie. NPH and David are all over the damned place together. But what do we REALLY know about their "personal lives" ? Not much. The live in Studio City and collect modern art.

    Of course what I'D like to know would necessitate three-way.

    AS IF!!!!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jun 30, 2009 1:00:39 PM

  10. Hi Michael, I have Neil Patrick Harris on the line. He'd like to have a word with you.

    Posted by: crispy | Jun 30, 2009 1:00:46 PM

  11. And yet, he was spotted at NY Gay Pride.


    Posted by: sam | Jun 30, 2009 1:03:15 PM

  12. Jesus-what a bunch of bitchy assholes we have here!

    "By refusing to confirm the obvious, however, he's attributing shame to gay sexuality..." WTF?

    Jay-have you ever thought -IT'S JUST NOBODYS FUCKING BUSINESS???

    If the guy is (or isn't) gay, I really don't care. It's the belief foisted on others that every "gay" person has to come out to meet our expections that makes us sound like a pack of morons. Get overyourself.

    By the way, I'm out, always have been, and have a fairly public life. BUT, I don't insist on everyone stating their sexual orientation. Kudos to gay men/women who choose to come out, but I'm not going to badger anyone else to do it.

    Posted by: jtramon | Jun 30, 2009 1:03:44 PM

  13. He's awfully pretty but kinda dumb. Leave him alone. He'll come out in 15 years and no one will care. Let him enjoy his career now.

    Posted by: Jeff NYC | Jun 30, 2009 1:07:33 PM

  14. Sweet Jesus ! Where is the rule that anyone has to come out ? Freedom to come out or not is the important point. If there is an issue that he would suffer artistically by coming out then that's another day's work.And the artistic/Hollywood world may be at fault. But why should he tell anyone anything ? Whatever happened to;
    "Mind your own fucking business" as a perfectly balanced response ?

    Posted by: jackFknTwist | Jun 30, 2009 1:18:37 PM

  15. He's in a play about...the Mattachine Society, for fuck's sake. These were people, like Harry Hay, who were working, back in the 1950's, for the rights of gay men and lesbians. Hell, in the 1950's, your life could be destroyed if you were publically indentified as gay or lesbian. This was the time of Joseph McCarthy.

    Given that context, I'm absolutely confused about Michael Urie's attitude. Yes, I guess it could be "nobody's fucking business!" whether he identifies himself publically as gay. But that's a contradiction, to me, about the theme of the play he's in.

    Posted by: Terry | Jun 30, 2009 1:20:58 PM

  16. "Freedom to come out or not is the important point."

    No, I'm pretty sure only the freedom TO come out is the important point. Not coming out is cowardly and destructive to you personally and to us societally, and hiding it behind your "need for privacy" is just pathetic. It means your view of your own sexuality is the same view held by every homophobe who tells us to keep it in the bedroom. It means you don't give a damn about how easy or hard it will ever be for people like you to be comfortable in our own communities. I have no sympathy for silence.

    Coming out is our only form of integration, so if you're out to yourself but to no one else, you're part of the problem.

    Be proud, be out, or be straight.

    Posted by: JeffRob | Jun 30, 2009 1:31:05 PM

  17. I think this is just a case of a particular dance with the media. He's clearly Out, he's a Pride, he's at Broadway Bares, he says he's a member of the LGBT community. So he's out, but I think as an actor what he's avoiding is an "I'm Gay" story happening, which he feels could damage his career trajectory. Who knows if he's right or not. Perhaps "I'm an LGBT member" is the new way to come out without necessarily making headlines.

    Posted by: Jeff | Jun 30, 2009 1:35:56 PM

  18. Feel free to criticize Michael. So long as the story is not about an not embarrassing sex tape by Dustin Lance Black, Andy will cover it!

    Posted by: John | Jun 30, 2009 1:40:58 PM

  19. I agree that the issue young actors face these days isn't so much whether they're out or not but how you keep the headlines on the career and not the bedroom. He seems to be doing his part to support the community.

    Posted by: Scott B. | Jun 30, 2009 1:43:00 PM

  20. His publicist came and talked to my PR class in college. She told us outright that he is straight, but she asks him to be coy about it so he can get some attention for it. Very bizarre. It's very perculiar when someone is pretending to be gay, instead of the other way around.

    Posted by: Gregsy | Jun 30, 2009 1:43:28 PM

  21. Who does he think he's fooling? That's about as funny as Sean Hayes not talking about his sexuality.

    Posted by: Paul | Jun 30, 2009 1:44:47 PM

  22. Here is my opinion, and it is not required anyone else agree. It is one thing to "come out" and quite another when you are asked a direct question to be unwilling to answer it- especially when it is obvious! That is what to me implies he is not fully proud of who he is or at least that part. And that is just crazy for someone playing these parts. It reminds me of Jack from Will and Grace slightly. I have less repsect for him due to this. Does that matter to him? Of course not. But it tells me a lttle bit more about him and I don't like that part.
    This does not help all of those teens trying to come to terms with themselves and who kind of looked up to him as a gay, oh sorry, not declared, actor. Can you say Ricky Martin?

    Posted by: Rann | Jun 30, 2009 1:48:33 PM

  23. If he is actually pretending to be gay by the "member of the LGBT community" bs --- still even more of a Lame Ass Punk.

    You can be a friend of - but not part of -the LGBT community if you are straight.

    Sorry - it's a gay thing.

    Posted by: Willie | Jun 30, 2009 1:51:07 PM

  24. "His publicist came and talked to my PR class in college. She told us outright that he is straight, but she asks him to be coy about it so he can get some attention for it. Very bizarre. It's very perculiar when someone is pretending to be gay, instead of the other way around."
    Then why does his website say he is a member of our community?

    Posted by: Rann | Jun 30, 2009 1:51:24 PM

  25. This is strange considering that I ran into him at Whole Foods once with his boyfriend and it was clear they were a couple.

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Jun 30, 2009 1:53:10 PM

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