Coming Out in Print
BY Jeremy Kinser
August 23 2012 5:00 AM ET
Issue 150, November 6, 1974
The actor, who’d recently appeared on The Waltons as a college friend of John-Boy’s, surprised fans of the wholesome television drama when he allowed his photo to be used on the cover of a faux-autobiographical 1975 book called The Happy Hustler and went on a book tour posing as the hustler, actually a fictional creation. Kearns, who appeared on the cover of The Advocate three times, went on to establish himself as a force in Los Angeles theater, and he made history in 1991 by coming out on national television as the first openly HIV-positive actor. In a 1989 Advocate feature on notable comings-out, he reflected on the impact of The Happy Hustler. For more on Kearns and his current relections on sex scandals, fatherhood, and the Happy Hustler check this out.
“I had come out on a personal level. That book brought me out on a professional level. If my instincts were ever right in any area, it was that that would happen. It did, and saved my life, my career, everything.”