Packed to the Rafters star Hugh Sheridan has had enough of the speculation surrounding his sexuality.
In a first-person essay and candid follow-up interview with Stellar Magazine, the actor and singer reveals he’s been in relationships with both men and women over the years, but prefers not to be labelled.
Opening up about his difficulties navigating media scrutiny surrounding his personal life, the actor — who played Ben Rafter from the age of 22 in the popular series — said he was encouraged to keep his sexuality under wraps.
He says he now feels a “responsibility” to speak out in an effort to help others who are still “figuring themselves out”.
In a lengthy essay about his experiences, the Adelaide-born star said throughout his school and teen years, his peers assumed he was gay – a label he felt was “misplaced”, because at that stage, he had never been attracted to the same sex.
“After moving to Sydney to attend NIDA, I finally met a guy who I connected with emotionally, mentally and physically,” Sheridan, who had been in love with women before that, explained in the piece.
“I was over the moon – I could finally be what people always wanted me to be, so I told everyone. In return, I was told that if I was anything but straight I’d never find work, and that I needed to hide my new-found love. To add to the confusion, the two mentors who told me this were openly gay themselves; they were earnestly trying to protect me and did indeed have my best interests at heart. That was just the reality.”
Elsewhere in the essay, the 35-year-old said while he was in a relationship with a man when he started working on Packed to the Rafters, he opted for privacy to make his relationship feel “more sacred”. He later said when the relationship ended and he fell in love with a woman again, he felt “too embarrassed” to tell anyone given so many were aware he had been with a man.
He added that for years he “protested with silence” for LGBTQIA+ equality, but has now decided to speak out to send an important message.
“I realised that if I never addressed these issues, if I maintained a silent protest, then people would always think I had something to hide or was denying others that expression,” he wrote.
“In many ways, I wish I didn’t have to write this, but I feel a responsibility to others who may come after me. By sharing my story now, and becoming more transparent, maybe I can help to give others who are private a break. We might live and let them live as they wish.
He concluded: “I believe labels are for clothes, not for people.”
Speaking to Stellar in response to the personal essay, the actor — who tested positive for coronavirus in September — said lockdown has “given him time to reflect” on his discomfort surrounding how he’s been labelled in the public arena.
“It occurred to me that no-one ever sticks up for people who don’t pick a label,” he said of his decision to open up after so many years.
When asked what he’s coming out as, he responded: “As a human being.”
He explained: “People will read this and say, ‘He’s not coming out. He’s bisexual. He’s asexual. Or non-binary. Or queer. Or fluid’ … Maybe this is also my way of letting people know that I’m still single, and everyone is on the smorgasbord,” he added with a laugh.
Sheridan, who will appear in Back to the Rafters, a reboot of the beloved TV drama that will stream on Amazon Prime Video next year, also revealed he has struggled with depression since the age of 16, feeling “misunderstood” by the people around him.
Read the full interview with Hugh Sheridan in the current issue of Stellar, available in the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun, on sale Sunday, October 18.
Originally published as Rafters star opens up on his sexuality