Sean Hayes has been on the cover of The Advocate before—in 1998, when he starred opposite Brad Rowe in Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss. But this is the first time he’s agreed to sit down for an interview with this magazine. In the 12 years since Hayes came to our attention, there’s been a lot of discussion about what we—you and I—thought he owed us in terms of disclosure about his personal life. Was he or wasn’t he? And if he was, why the hell didn’t he talk about it? A previous editor of this magazine was so frustrated by Hayes’s silence on the issue that he went so far as to publish a satirical/fake interview with the actor that made Hayes look ridiculous for never discussing his sexual orientation.
I’m a tremendous proponent of coming out—and of coming out in a big, shout-it-out-to-the-world way. But I also think nobody—with the exception of closeted hypocrites whose decisions hurt the way you and I live our lives—should be pushed.
Nearly four years after Will & Grace left prime time, Hayes’s character on the show remains one of the best-known gay men (albeit a fictional gay man) in the world. But that doesn’t mean he’s ever owed us any insight into his own life. Would it have been amazing if he’d had an Ellen DeGeneres–like “Yep, I’m Gay” Advocate cover 10 years ago? Of course. But is it OK that he’s waited 12 years to talk with us? You bet.