Douglas Spain Becomes the Change He Wants To See
BY Winston Gieseke
January 27 2012 4:00 AM ET
Douglas Spain believes in leading by example. The actor, whose career
has spanned nearly two decades, over two dozen films (including the
critically acclaimed Star Maps, for which he received an
Independent Spirit Award nomination), and countless television
projects, says that despite being out to many friends and family
members, he found himself in too many scenarios in which he couldn’t be
real. So Thursday he took to Facebook and announced to the rest of his
inner circle — and the world — that he is gay.
The Advocate: What led you to come out?
Honestly, I was a bit depressed at the beginning of the year, and I
couldn’t pinpoint why. Then I realized I had gotten to a point where I
only wanted to play pretend in front of the camera and not behind it.
Most of your friends and family knew?
Yes. Technically I came out when I was 17. And when I became an actor I went right back in in order to protect my career.
Did anyone in your professional circle advise you to stay in the closet?
And I’ve been in the business a long time, so I’ve seen careers fail
[because of it]. Neil Patrick Harris is the exception. I’ve been in
situations in people’s homes — people who didn’t know I was gay — and
Anne Heche would come on the television and they would make comments
like, “I don’t believe her as a straight love interest.” As an actor I
always felt that the less people know about you, the more believable
your characters can be. There are many actors that are chameleons, and
I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we don’t know much
about their personal lives. Gary Oldman is a great example. Michael
Fassbender, who is a friend and someone I’ve worked with, is another.
He’s able to become all these characters because people don’t know much
Have you experienced any homophobia in Hollywood?
personally. But another actor I sort of grew up with, Wilson Cruz, he
came out a long time ago and most of the characters he’s played have
been gay. I’ve played gay characters myself in addition to many others.
But I didn’t want to do only gay roles. I didn’t want to become the
“gay-to” character that people pursued.
So you wouldn’t shy away from a large gay part?
Not at all. I was in But I’m a Cheerleader,
and he was one of my favorite characters. He was a guy who was trying
to change who he was inside because of society, and in the end he came
to realize that you can’t. And he triumphed. He was one of the only
characters in the film who was true to himself.