We all probably know Daniel Franzese best for playing openly gay high schooler and pink-shirt-lender Damian from Mean Girls. But Daniel himself hadn’t been open with his own sexual orientation until now. In a coming out letter published yesterday by IndieWire, Daniel pays tribute to Damian (the letter’s actually written to him) and explains that he was scared to take on the role in the first place. It’ll warm your heart and have you cheering “You go, Glen Coco!” in your best Santa voice.
The whole letter is worth reading, because it’s smart and witty and full of references, but I’ll give you a few of my favorite excerpts here. First of all, just try to read this message to Damian and not smile:
“I was twenty-six; you were sixteen. You were proud of who you were; I was an insecure actor. You became an iconic character that people looked up to; I wished I’d had you as a role model when I was younger. I might’ve been easier to be gay growing up.
You WERE beautiful in every single way and words couldn’t bring you down.”
Daniel gets more personal when he explains why it took him so long to come out of the closet:
“When I first became an actor, I wanted to play lots of roles – Guidos, gangsters and goombahs were my specialty. So, would I be able to play all of those parts after portraying a sensitive, moisturizing, Ashton Kutcher-loving, pink-shirt-wearing kid? I was optimistic. Hollywood? Not so much. I was meeting a “gay glass ceiling” in casting.”
Daniel says casting directors have denied to see him for “masculine” roles, and he’s also turned down roles that were offered to him to play stereotypical gay characters who are written to be laughed at. Unfortunately, some people still seem to question whether it’s possible to believe a gay actor in a straight role, despite the fact that straight actors play gay roles all the time and everyone applauds them.
Daniel tells Damian that he was initially mad at him for causing this career problem, but when young men started telling him what a role model he was, he started thinking differently: “It was then that I realized how much of an impact YOU had made on them.” So he’s decided to come out because, as he writes, “Perhaps this will help someone else.”
I’m fine, there’s just something in my eye. I’m not crying, you’re crying!