The Right Man for the Job

Yani Gellman leads Y&R into its first wave of gay storylines in the show's 36-year history -- and controversy ensues.

BY Michael Fairman

June 02 2009 12:00 AM ET

On a soap opera filled with so much drama, the casual way in which The Young and the Restless announced its landmark first gay character, Rafe Torres (played by Yani Gellman), was refreshing. By casually having it come up in conversation on the now-infamous (or not) April 24 episode of the series, during a potential matchmaking session set up by Lily Winters for her friend Colleen, it set the tone that this daytime drama may truly be making its gay citizens part of the tapestry and not having them stick out like a sore thumb.

But -- and there is a big "but" -- then came the shocking turn of events the week of May 21 that hit the LGBT, mainstream, and soap press hard. It was revealed that Chris Engen (then Adam Newman) reportedly walked off the set for refusing to do a kissing scene with Gellman. The show immediately recast the role with actor Michael Muhney. Sources told Advocate.com that Engen was indeed very unhappy on the set, particularly about the dark direction his character had taken. Rumors have persisted that Rafe and the "straight" Adam, could potentially be lovers or that Adam was playing Rafe as part of his nefarious schemes and was going to sleep with him to do so. Engen countered the accusations that he was homophobic with a statement on his MySpace page, saying the rumors were "absurd. Many of my dearest friends are homosexuals who would be more than happy to speak on my behalf."

But what about Yani Gellman in all of this? A spokesperson for Gellman has refused to let the actor talk about what went down that fateful day, concerned about fueling the fire and the rumor mill. The rep said, "Yani doesn't have the answers to these questions. At the end of the day, the only person who does is the one that is getting slammed [referring to Engen]."

So now what can LGBT fans expect? Good news! Gellman and his alter ego, Rafe Torres, have major story on the way! With the gay legal eagle's client Adam Newman as one possible beau, rumors persist that the arriving John Driscoll (as Phillip Chancellor IV) also could be a love interest. Add to that the mystery of how gay actor Thom Bierdz (the just-returned Phillip III or "Langley") fits into this equation. There seems to be plenty on the horizon for fans who have long wished daytime's number 1 series would add some modern-day gay romance and life into the mix in Genoa City.

Advocate.com chatted with Gellman about his excitement on landing the role, living his dream of appearing on Y&R, and being "the man for the job" to lead the show into a rainbow-colored future.

Advocate.com: There has never been a gay male character on Y&R, which so many fans have wanted for so long, and now it's here ... and you are the guy!Yani Gellman: Yup, there has not been one, ever! Well, there is now!

Did you know when you got the part of Rafe that he was going to be gay, or did you find that out later?I did not know it going in. It was something that the producers ran by me a little later on in the filming process. It took me maybe all of two milliseconds to respond. I thought it was a great idea and we jumped right in.

Did you feel any hesitance?No hesitancy whatsoever. I had some questions about the story line and where they saw it going and really standard questions you would have for any character you play. They assured me that the role was going to be written in a way that would be quite sensitive and conscientiously written, so that really appealed to me. I gravitated toward it and having this great new character to play. I am just like the viewer, wanting to know what's it going to be and what they are going to throw my way. I am ready for any of the great twists that come my way in the story.

Tags: television

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