The Ties That Bind

As the World Turns 's Van Hansis (Luke) and Paolo Seganti (Damian) play daytime's estranged father and gay son. Now they are learning to trust and accept each other. But will it last?

BY Michael Fairman

June 08 2009 12:00 AM ET

Coming up, there is trouble ahead, as all ATWT fans know; Colonel Mayer is on his way back. Also, the exciting news that Forbes March will be joining the cast in July, and he is playing gay too!Hansis: Yes, there is the Colonel Mayer stuff and the Forbes March character being thrown into the mix in July. His character will be involved with Luke and Noah, but I don't know where the story is going, because we just started taping it.

Where are Nuke at this point in their relationship?Hansis: They have been happy together for a while now, and it's a soap, so I don't know how long they will be happy.

Since you travel and work all over the world, Paolo, do you see a big difference of how gay people are treated now, and that some of the old prejudices are falling away?Seganti: So much so! I think there is such a big leap forward in acceptance for gay people.

Did being in this story change your perception of gay people?Seganti: It's not about, "Oh, this guy came out or this guy is gay." It has been like this for years. I have been working in the fashion world as a model and an actor for a while now. When I first left Italy 20 years ago it was different. Now there are always things in movies on gay subject matter and on daytime with ATWT. We are going forward a hundred miles an hour compared to the old days!

Van, did you think the role of Luke would ever last this long?Hansis: I was hired for three months, and I have managed to stretch it out for three and a half years. Every day I go to work I am so happy. I remember being so thrilled that I was going to be working for three months, and I don't have to wait tables for three months! I think what happened with the show was they were telling this new story that has never been told on daytime before, and with a core character instead of a peripheral character. They were waiting to see what the fan reaction would be. And as Paolo said, the fan reaction proved how we are moving a hundred miles an hour with it. The fan response was so immensely popular, and so much more than anyone thought it would be.

Why do you think the character of Luke is so popular?Seganti: In New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, gays are accepted and are part of those cities' fabric. But if you go elsewhere, that is not always the case. A lot of people who are fans of the show and the story line are people who are going through what Luke went through at worst; when Damian sent Luke to a camp, or feeling people will crucify them. There is still a lot of that, but in much of the world it is a normal thing right now. That is why a lot of people are so happy about the story line, being it's something they can relate to, as they are still living every day, with difficulty.

Hansis: I totally agree. I think that is what the audience of daytime reaches. People generally in New York City and San Francisco are not really the soap demographic, per se. So I think to have this story told on daytime, where we do have a huge fan base in the Midwest and the South, for it to be celebrated is a huge step.

Seganti: They are living their own drama, and people are seeing on our show it's OK to accept it. The thing is to love your kids and help them out as much as you can. So this story should be a huge help to kids and families.

Tags: Television

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