In Living Color
BY Jeffrey Hartinger
July 21 2011 1:45 PM ET
Did you feel comfortable about being open with your sexuality on national television?
I do feel comfortable being an openly gay man on TV because this is simply who I am. I will never act or do things that I don’t believe in. I will always stay true to my fellow gays and myself. We are a force to be reckoned with, and NY Ink is my platform to showcase this strength that is constantly still being questioned.
Which tattoos on LGBT celebrities are your favorites?
I do like Lady Gaga’s “little monsters.” My next tattoo is going to be “Born This Way.” I’ve been thinking about doing it for years, not necessarily because of Gaga. If someone asks me if I think being gay is a choice, I will simply show the person the tattoo.
Do you have any LGBT-themed tattoos?
Yes. I have “Silence Equals Death” tattooed on my stomach. It’s my belly rocker and I love it. I am proud to be out and not have to hide who I am. I grew up in the ’80s and early ’90s, and being gay and tattooed wasn’t as accepted as it is now. I am especially proud of the leaps and bounds we have made in the acceptance of being gay.
Growing up, is there a particular gay male that you looked up to?
I didn’t have any huge gay role models in life on TV, but I do remember watching Torch Song Trilogy with Harvey Fierstein and Matthew Broderick. Watching that movie was one of the first times that I saw a gay couple together, and it was a positive outlook for me on gay men and their relationships. As for family, I grew up with a father right off the boat from Italy. Let’s just say that back in the day, he didn’t like the idea that I was gay. He is an old-fashioned European man who wasn’t exposed to much of anything because he grew up on a farm in Italy in the 1940s. My mom has three brothers and three sons. Everyone in my family teased and poked fun at me at one time or another. It was sometimes a gay slur, only because they didn’t know better at the time; unconditional love can be challenged when you’re ignorant. Now everyone is so loving and we are closer than ever. I don’t think they can ever truly understand and comprehend what it is to be gay, but their love and acceptance is all that really matters to me.