I'm Gay | News

'Playboy Club' and 'Firefly' Actor Sean Maher: I'm Gay

Sean Maher, an actor best known for his role as Dr. Simon Tam in Firefly, and now the recently-premiered NBC drama The Playboy Club, tells Entertainment Weekly that like his closeted character on the show, he's gay:

Maher “I’ve never discussed it publicly...I’ve never been asked about it publicly, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t paint a different picture."

Maher said that when he moved to L.A. in '97 for a short-lived cop role, he was told by the Hollywood machine to stay in the closet:

"I’m 22, I move to L.A., and it’s such a cliché, but the day I arrive, publicists from the show took me out to The Ivy for lunch...They’re telling me, ‘You know, gosh, we’d really appreciate it if you could keep your girlfriend on the side because we want to appeal to the female demographic of the show.’ ...At that moment, I didn’t think to say, ‘Oh, I’m gay,’ because right before I left New York [where he went to college at NYU], I had my manager tell me: ‘You need to get a girl on your arm or people will start talking.’ I remember telling him: ‘I’m gay.’ He had no idea. And he said: ‘All the more reason to get a girl on your arm.’ My agent was also like, ‘It’s best if you keep your options open. Maybe bisexual?’”

Maher admits that the decision was ultimately his:

“It was so exhausting, and I was so miserable. I didn’t really have any life other than work and this façade I was putting on. So I kept my friends from college [where he was out] separate from my work friends, and that was very confusing. I just kept going on and on painting this picture of somebody I wasn’t. I didn’t have time for a personal relationship anyway. And you just don’t realize that it’s eating away at your soul.”

And Maher's role in The Playboy Club, as a closeted husband, is not coincidental:

Maher decided to use his role on NBC’s The Playboy Club — a character coincidentally also named Sean, a closeted man who’s married to lesbian Playboy Bunny Alice (Leah Renee Cudmore) – to finally engage in a dialogue about how being closeted has strained his life in Hollywood. “I was working on other stuff, and then this role came up, which was like a light bulb going off,” Maher remembers. “I was like, This is perfect. I want to do this, and I want to use it as a platform to come out.”

As viewers saw in the premiere episode on Sept. 19, his character is involved with launching the Chicago chapter of the Mattachine Society, an underground gay-rights group from the ’50s and ’60s.

If I get my hands on the clip (I saw it last night), I'll post it.

Read the much-longer interview with Maher at Entertainment Weekly.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. you had better WERK!
    YAY! Another Vanguard!

    I tip my hat to the men and women who realize that as long as we pretend that Coming Out is a "personal choice" that being gay will continue to be see as something shameful to be hidden and denied.

    Help Out, Come Out.

    Thank you, Sean!

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Sep 26, 2011 2:15:59 PM

  2. I KNEW IT!

    Posted by: Bravo | Sep 26, 2011 2:21:50 PM

  3. Congrats to Sean on taking this step! And I fully co-sign what Kiwi has to say. Hollywood isn't the gay-friendly haven many think it is so he definitely deserves total praise.

    Posted by: Francis | Sep 26, 2011 2:21:59 PM

  4. I have wanted him since Firefly. Sean, if you're ever in Santa Monica...

    Posted by: unruly | Sep 26, 2011 2:23:00 PM

  5. Good for him!

    It's really disgusting that there are STILL publicists and managers who insist that their clients should be closeted.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 26, 2011 2:27:05 PM

  6. Glad to see my Gaydar (ping! ping!) still works. I thought Sean was family from the first time I saw him in "Serendipity". Welcome!

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Sep 26, 2011 2:34:03 PM

  7. Loved Sean Maher since the first ep of Firefly. Kudos to him for coming out.

    Posted by: verybookish | Sep 26, 2011 2:35:04 PM

  8. I thought he was unofficially out, but since he is not as famous as he should be, it was not a big deal.

    Posted by: Blake Jordan | Sep 26, 2011 2:44:25 PM

  9. That explains all the Firefly slash-fic involving Simon and Jane...and Simon and Mal...and Simon and his mirror.

    Posted by: Ted B. (Charging Rhino) | Sep 26, 2011 2:45:13 PM

  10. Congrats Sean.
    Telling the truth sets you free.
    Let chickenshits like Anderson Cooper,Oprah Wimpfry and all the other self-loathing,fear-driven,shame-focused closet cases(especially religious 'leaders' and politicians)live forever in their miserable closets until the day they die with their obvious "secret".

    Posted by: SFShawn | Sep 26, 2011 2:52:22 PM

  11. He had my gaydar going for the whole Firefy series. Glad to know it's not broken. Woof.

    Posted by: Adam Mathias | Sep 26, 2011 2:57:37 PM

  12. He's so cute. It's too bad he's on a new show that's probably going to get cancelled.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Sep 26, 2011 2:59:51 PM

  13. Uh... is it at all documented that any founding members of the Mattachine Society were married, closeted men? Even in Chicago?

    Posted by: BobN | Sep 26, 2011 3:01:28 PM

  14. Loved him in FIREFLY and still love him!

    Posted by: Robbie | Sep 26, 2011 3:06:49 PM

  15. It's great, but Sean who? Sadly, few know him or would care (which is why coming out should be no big deal to most actors, really).

    Posted by: anon | Sep 26, 2011 3:14:03 PM

  16. Good for him. I hope he has a brilliant career and proves everyone who told him to stay in the closet wrong.

    Posted by: IAN F | Sep 26, 2011 3:14:42 PM

  17. My gaydar always pinged since Firefly too, but since he regularly tweets about his daughter, I was a little confused. Is she his natural daughter (apologies if that's not the right terminology)? Or has he adopted?

    Posted by: Jon | Sep 26, 2011 3:17:48 PM

  18. Oops, just read the EW article, they're adopted. Regardless, congrats to Sean and his wonderful family!!!

    Posted by: Jon | Sep 26, 2011 3:20:48 PM

  19. @Anon: This is actually an even bigger deal than if he was already a big, well-known star. He is risking ever becoming a big star by coming out. People who already have well-established careers are arguably risking less when they come out than Sean Maher is risking. That's why this matters.

    Posted by: RyanInSacto | Sep 26, 2011 3:21:50 PM

  20. AfterElton says he's married to a dude and they adopted two young kids.


    Posted by: kirkyo | Sep 26, 2011 3:21:50 PM

  21. SFShawn, there is no closet in the post-Internet world. The proof of that is that you know that all the people you list are gay, which you couldn't know if they were in your fictional closet. The only reason you didn't know Sean Maher was gay was not because he was in a no-longer-exists closet, but because he's not famous enough to be talked about.

    If this closet you think still exists doesn't, at the very least, make somebody being gay a secret, then what is it supposed to do, exactly?

    Good for Sean Maher (who I'd never heard of until today). This won't impact his career at all and every little bit helps.

    And, BobN, Google Mattachine Society and your question will be answered (hint: the answer is yes). The closet did, indeed, exist then. Society made it and gay people were forced into it, hence the term "coming out of the closet". It was something a gay person had to make a choice to do, against society's will. Gay people today don't have that choice because the closet no longer exists. There's not only no way to pretend that nobody is gay, there's also no way for a gay person to pretend that everybody else doesn't already know.

    Posted by: ohplease | Sep 26, 2011 3:24:56 PM

  22. Jon, gay people have children they're genetically related to all the time, either through old-fashioned heterosexual intercourse or any number of alternative high-tech methods. And, also? Gay people just have children in general and have for a very long time. Since the beginning of time, actually.

    Posted by: ohplease | Sep 26, 2011 3:29:54 PM

  23. Wow, my gaydar actually worked for a change? Or, well, did once upon a time when Firefly was on. (Actually, he telegraphed GAY pretty loudly. My gaydar otherwise sucks.)

    Posted by: Zlick | Sep 26, 2011 3:36:06 PM

  24. His quotes are very telling, though it's not really anything new as most people already know execs tell actors to beard, but at least there's now confirmation that it DEFINITELY happens from someone who has been through it.

    Posted by: Bryan | Sep 26, 2011 3:40:11 PM

  25. I guess the writers of the show don't have the internet. The Mattachine Society had a chapter in Chicago as early as 1955. Eight years before the show is set. The character might join the chapter but he would not be launching it.

    Posted by: marshallt | Sep 26, 2011 3:43:21 PM

  26. 1 2 3 »

Post a comment


« «Uruguayan Footballer Walter Pandiani Sweats the Details: VIDEO« «