By this point Urie has already shown me a photo of the man he’s been dating for more than a year. After gushing over Sprouts, the Brussels Griffon rescue dog his idol and former Betty costar Bernadette Peters gave him last year, he eagerly whipped out his iPhone and showed me a pic of the dog and his boyfriend, actor Ryan Spahn, with whom he’s lived for several months.

When asked what letter in LGBTQ he identifies himself, Urie says Q, for queer.

“I’ve been in a relationship for a while now, and if you just met the two of us together we’d be ‘gay,’ ” he explains. “But that somehow means anything that happened before [we met] didn’t count—and I don’t feel that way. I know that some people feel that way. They were with women, but it always felt wrong. But it didn’t for me. It felt right at the time. It didn’t work out, but it also didn’t work out with other men—many times. That’s why ‘gay’ never seemed right.”

Urie acknowledges that he was more guarded about his personal life at the start of his career, but now that Ugly Betty has found its footing (it’s now in its fourth season) and he recognizes he’ll never be the kind of actor whose career relies on his sex appeal with women, he’s ready to loosen his grip.

“Certainly there was a point where I was like, I don’t know how long Ugly Betty is going to last and how well it’s going to do, and I might want some real anonymity if it ends quickly. I was also never one to seek out publicity or attention, and I basically didn’t want to be labeled. That kind of attention could turn ugly. I guess if I wasn’t in a relationship with a man and I tried to tell people I was queer, it would appear to be a lie or a cop-out—à la college 10 years ago, when people believed in that notion of ‘bi now, gay later.’ But things are different now. I’m much more comfortable, and I’m in a relationship now. I’m not as worried about a future for myself.”

That said, Urie sympathizes with Rudi Gernreich’s decision to keep his sexuality under wraps to preserve his reputation, and he wouldn’t necessarily encourage young actors to divulge details about their personal lives even today.

“It’s a business of perception. My being perceived as queer is likely not going to affect the jobs I get, but with certain people it might. Coming out can ruin your career. My career is not based on people believing me with a woman. If it was, I’d be in trouble. If George Clooney came out, he’d be in trouble. Suddenly people would say, ‘Wait, he doesn’t like what I see him doing? Now I don’t believe it.’ When you have 20 people who have to agree to cast somebody in a role, a little thing like that could be a really big thing to them.” 

Tags: People