It's taken more than 60 years, but Richard Chamberlain no longer hates himself. Chamberlain writes in his just-released autobiography about the spiritual awakening that got him to stop hating himself because he's gay. The actor said that when he was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, there was nothing worse you could be than gay. "So I grew up thinking there was something very, very wrong with me. And that's a terrific burden to carry around," Chamberlain told AP Radio on Wednesday.
Now Chamberlain has grown to accept that being gay doesn't mean he's a bad person. Chamberlain has been living with his boyfriend, Martin, for 26 years. They consider themselves married, having taken part in a commitment ceremony some 20 years ago. "It was wonderful; we had our best friends and sort of made vows that we created ourselves. It was a wonderful experience," said Chamberlain. He hopes gays and lesbians can legally marry someday. "Marriage doesn't interest me because I'm not part of any particular church. But I think it's inevitable and desperately needed that we have the same civil rights," Chamberlain said.
Chamberlain said it wouldn't have been a good move careerwise to come out of the closet while he was a heartthrob: "Actors have a certain obligation to their public. For instance, playing leading men, well, don't mess with that image. A lot of people thought they were in love with me, you know, women all over the place. They were really in love with an image, and I didn't want to mess with that image." He starred as television's Dr. James Kildare from 1961 to 1966 and as Father Ralph, a love-torn priest, in the 1983 miniseries The Thorn Birds. He also starred in the 1974 movie The Towering Inferno and the 1980 miniseries Shogun.
Chamberlain's book is titled Shattered Love.