Josh Strickland, Stripped
BY Brandon Voss
June 10 2010 1:55 PM ET
A promising contestant cut right before semifinals on season 2 of American Idol, Josh Strickland swung back into the national spotlight in 2006 as the loinclothed lead in Disney’s Tarzan, a critically maligned musical that ran for more than a year on Broadway. Strickland currently suits up as the main male vocalist in Peepshow, Jerry Mitchell’s popular burlesque review at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Thanks to Strickland’s friendship with Peepshow costar Holly Madison, the 26-year-old South Carolina native now appears in the Playmate's Girls Next Door spin-off, Holly’s World, which premieres June 13 on E! Opening up about his Idol journey and controversially trim Tarzan torso, Strickland shares a peep into his life as a proud gay man.
Advocate.com: When asked if you were gay, the search engine ChaCha — which is not where I get all my information — said, “Although I am unable to find an interview where Josh Strickland states that he is gay, the consensus around the Web is that he is.” Before now, have you never spoken openly about your sexuality to the press?
Josh Strickland: Probably not. I think the reason I never talked about it before is because I was playing Tarzan, one of the most masculine characters on Broadway. I never really hid it, but I was never asked about that in interviews because I guess most people just wanted to talk about me playing that iconic character. But recently, and especially now, I’m not going to hide any of that. I think it’s really important to be who I am and true to myself.
During Tarzan there was a lot of speculation about your sexuality on various blogs and Broadway chat rooms. Were you aware of that?
I did know that was going on, but I tried not to look at blogs because some of it was so nasty. It’s fine that people were talking about it, but I was never asked, like, “Are you gay? How does it feel being gay and playing a character like Tarzan?” It never came up. Now I’m happy to be open and out about it. If people are going to speculate anyway, why not wash all that speculation away? I am who I am.
There were rumors floating around that Disney tried to keep your sexuality a secret by preventing you from speaking too much and by limiting your interviews.
Disney’s one of the best companies to work for, and I never had any complaints. What they did for me was put me in a class for media training. They gave me talking points about the show, but they didn’t tell me what I couldn’t talk about. I was never held back from being who I am. The questions people asked were just never about my sexuality.
At what point did you decide that you’d be honest about it if you were asked?
It was from all that speculation during Tarzan. I was really tired of people making up their own answers. I’d rather just put it to rest and be myself. Nowadays it really doesn’t even matter. You see people coming out all the time, and it makes them stronger and happier. I didn’t want to be one of those souls struggling every day to fight who I am. I’m 10 times better just by being out and open about it. It makes my life so much happier. I have no regrets about anything.