Thom Bierdz Coming Home
BY Michael Fairman
May 19 2009 12:00 AM ET
What you have gone through in your personal life is documented in your memoir, Forgiving Troy. It has been such a critical success, and it is such a gut-wrenching true-life story. At the center of it is your brother Troy beating your mother to death with a baseball bat, but it is so much more than that. Thank you, and I just wanted to be honest. It did come out in 2007, but we recently edited it and updated it with a new cover.
That must have been difficult to go through, to write the book and relive all of these memories and feelings of your past. It's so difficult to write a book, and what you think comes across doesn't. Then you have to have eight friends and editors look at it and say, "I didn't get that. Are you sure you meant that?" But to have to go through your family lineage and relive the worst part of it, things that resulted in murder, suicide, and paranoia, is horrible! These were dark times, and this was a book I had to write because it's a beautiful and unbelievably uplifting book, if you believe in life after death. And if you knew my brother and see how far my brother who killed my mother has come today, it's an amazing journey that he has been on. He is such a different person now â€¦ and I am too.
Do you visit with Troy? I see Troy every year, and he calls me twice a week. The newer edition of the book will have photos of our visits for the last 15 years. Troy has really changed physically. A lot. Some people say that I just look a little older.
Going back to what you went through being closeted in your early days on Y&R, what would you tell people who are still uncomfortable about coming out to their employer or uncomfortable in their workplace or are uncomfortable in their own skin or who need some help in accepting themselves? All I would do is share all the information that is out there. In terms of e-mails -- I get tons of e-mails from gay guys who are married and don't know how to tell their wives. I get e-mails from gay schoolteachers who are afraid to come out in small states â€¦ and I get the opposite e-mails from out gay teachers in small cities and states. I get e-mails from people who have come out and are shocked that they are getting such acceptance. Those people who didn't know, I think if they knew it was going to be accepted on the other side, I think they would be more likely to come out. I think people are really afraid of being rejected and disliked, and I don't think that is the case anymore.
You grew up in Kenosha, Wis., and I grew up in Milwaukee, so I know what that is like. Did you feel the need to get out of there? At 18, I left Kenosha. I was bartending in a gay bar at 20 and 21 in Milwaukee. It was a bar that Jeffrey Dahmer frequented, not that I served him, but I had an ex-lover that served him. So when I could, at 18, I moved to a bigger city. I went from a shy boy who hid himself and was forced into college because I graduated early, who was feeling very insignificant. I had the feeling that All these guys around me are bigger and more masculine. I just want to be them, but I also want to be with them, and I hate myself. I feel like a sinner. I feel judged that I was having these thoughts. Then I moved to Milwaukee and immediately got a job bartending in a gay bar. I thought, I am comfortable here and home, and it was OK for me to be who I am. There was no judgment, and I can relax.
Lauralee Bell, who played Cricket, and you were the young "darling" couple of the show. Did Lauralee know of your sexual orientation back then, and did you have any discussions with her about it? You know, I really have to have a talk with Lauralee and find out what she did know then, because in my recollection, we had one discussion about it at a very awkward time. I don't know her take on it. I know that Lauralee is an extremely open-minded person today, but she was a teenage girl at the time, and I was 10 years older than she was. I would love to talk to Lauralee and sit down with her and talk to her more. She has certainly been supportive of me at art gallery shows, where I have my boyfriends.