Randy Harrison: Randy Does Andy

Queer as Folk’s Randy Harrison discusses his new role as late art legend Andy Warhol in Yale Rep’s POP! and his own status as a reluctant “post-gay” pop icon — plus his secret nude photos and the possibility of a QAF reunion.

BY Brandon Voss

December 04 2009 7:55 AM ET


Echoing the controversial statements gay directors Todd Holland and Don Roos made earlier this year, Rupert Everett recently advised gay actors to stay in the closet, saying, “The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the ... film business.” As a former 25-year-old homosexual who hasn’t done much film work since Queer as Folk, do you think he’s right?
I’ve never really tried very hard to be a part of the film industry, so I don’t know if he’s right or not. Queer as Folk was a fluke, and then I just went back to theater. I’ve been significantly more satisfied with the work I’ve been doing since Queer as Folk ended. It’s been almost all theater, but that was my mostly my intention, so I’m doing what I always wanted to do.

But do you feel like your coming-out has hindered your career in any way?
I don’t know what decisions are being made behind closed doors in casting sessions or what people think of me, so I don’t know what kind of difference it would’ve made or what kind of career I would have now if I hadn’t come out. I just know that not coming out was something I wasn’t capable of doing. I don’t regret it. The one thing that’s been frustrating for me is that coming out has forced me to have to talk about my private life, which is something that I have no interest talking about in general. I don’t feel like actors should ever be obligated to open up about that. I want to be out because it’s important to me socially and politically, but at the same time I don’t think it’s anybody’s business who I sleep with.

Then it must have been strange when New York magazine put you on the cover of its 2002 “Gay Issue” and labeled you “The Post-Gay Gay Icon.” What did that mean to you?
At the time — and I was feeling this a lot when I was doing Queer as Folk — I was frustrated with how much ghettoizing there was of the gay community: The “us versus them” mentality as far as gays and straights. So I sort of understood the idea of “post-gay” as being beyond labels of sexuality.

A recent Newsweek article claimed that effeminate gay characters on television shows like Glee, Ugly Betty, Entourage, Modern Family, and True Blood might actually be hurting rather than helping the LGBT community. What do you think of the representation of gays on TV today?
I don’t watch all those shows, so I don’t really know who the characters are, but just the fact that they’re out there is important. Maybe adults can’t use them as a political tool in some way, but I know — and this was important to me when I was doing Queer as Folk — that any kind of visibility is a comfort when you’re 14 and living in the middle of nowhere. Now it’s easy to find two boys kissing on TV, so at least you don’t have to go to a weird video store to search for an old Merchant-Ivory movie.

Tags: Theater