Sense8 actor Brian J. Smith has 'come out' as a gay man.
The Tony Award-nominated star has opened up about his sexuality in a candid cover story for Attitude magazine, revealing how "terrified" he used to be growing up as a queer kid in a small town in Texas.
"I was terrified," he confessed. "At school I really couldn't fit in anywhere. I wasn't a jock or a nerd. Forget about any (LGBTQ+) union or groups. There was absolutely nothing. I was completely alone. I heard all the names: p**sy, f**got."
The tough childhood made Smith cautious about revealing his true self to those around him, and he turned to acting to make himself feel less isolated.
It wasn't until he turned 30 eight years ago that he felt comfortable enough to share his sexual preferences with his loved ones - and they welcomed him with open arms.
"I was surprised," he recalled. "When I came out to my parents they were wonderful. They said they were just waiting for me to say something. They were a lot more advanced than I gave them credit for."
Their reactions helped Smith deal better with his personal anxieties, and when he started work on the now-cancelled Netflix series Sense8, he was fully at ease: "I remember being so relaxed," he said. "I thought, 'Finally, I can just be myself, I don't have to put on airs for any of these people.'"
Smith wishes he had realised that sooner, and when asked for the advice he would offer his younger self, he mused, "I just would hug him and say 'It's OK.' What that kid needed was somebody to pick him up and say, 'You're perfect as you are, it's OK.'"