In a revealing interview with GQ, Jonathan Bailey, known for his starring role in Netflix’s period drama Bridgerton, disclosed the struggle of hiding his sexuality in the early stages of his acting career. At 35, Bailey has firmly established himself in the acting world but confessed that the road to success was riddled with prejudice and fears stemming from the television industry’s stance on sexuality.
In the candid interview, Bailey relayed an experience that deeply influenced him: “At the time, he [an actor friend] was told, ‘There’s two things we don’t want to know: if you’re an alcoholic or if you’re gay,'” the British actor told GQ. “All it takes is for one of those people in that position of power to say that, and it ripples through. So, yeah, of course I thought that. Of course, I thought that in order to be happy I needed to be straight.”
Bailey, who came out to friends and family in his 20s, has been serious about his acting career from the get-go. “In 20 years, you don’t want to be famous. You want a sustained career,” he emphasized. Yet, he eventually reached a turning point in his perspective on success and happiness. “I reached a point where I thought, ‘F—k this, I’d much prefer to hold my boyfriend’s hand in public or be able to put my own face picture on Tinder and not be so concerned about that than getting a part,” he said, throwing caution to the wind.
The actor, who has won an Olivier Award, has been vocal about homophobia in the entertainment industry before. In March 2021, Bailey criticized the idea that gay actors couldn’t convincingly portray heterosexual relationships on screen. “Everyone should be able to play absolutely everything,” he asserted. But he also pointed out the lack of representation, noting that when straight actors take gay roles, it limits opportunities for gay actors.
As for his current role as Lord Anthony Bridgerton in Bridgerton, Bailey doesn’t see himself merely as a Hollywood heartthrob. But what’s undebatable is his courage to be openly himself, bringing authenticity to any role he plays, and challenging the antiquated norms of the entertainment world.