* Article updated July 5 to clarify Meyers' prior relationships.
From the outside looking in, Nico Tortorella doesn’t seem all that different from the straight cisgender character he plays on the sweetly addictive hit comedy Younger, which had its fourth-season premiere in June. From Sex and the City creator Darren Star, Younger began as a rom-com that follows a middle-aged woman (pretending to be a 20-something) who falls for a man in his 20s (Tortorella). TV Land has already renewed Younger for a fifth season, ensuring the show (and Tortorella’s reign as one of TV’s hottest men) lasts at least through 2018. And as the show has grown, so too has Tortorella’s public openness.
There’s no doubt Tortorella is leading man material — tall, beefy, and what my Latino grandmother used to describe as “a very nice-looking white man.” But once he starts talking about love and defying the gender binary, having sex with men, and how he “would give it all up, everything in my life, to be able to carry a child myself,” you get the sense that this is a very different kind of Hollywood star.
Tortorella is also the guy behind the super popular podcast The Love Bomb, now in season 2, where each week he interviews one of the many, many people he loves. He’s committed to shaking up norms around gender and sexuality. His decade-long polyamorous romantic partnership with Bethany Meyers, a fitness and lifestyle entrepreneur (who identifies as gay) is proof. It’s a different kind of queer relationship, they admit, one that is thoroughly open and modern and enduring.
“There are those pockets of the world, in so many places, that ‘gay’ just doesn’t exist, where there’s no representation,” Tortorella says, speaking of a gay man who escaped North Korea and discovered that gay people exist elsewhere. “And it’s not that different than the representation that existed in Hollywood for the last hundred years. … There’s like one love story and it’s between a white man and a white woman.”
Tortorella — who has been described as queer, bisexual, demisexual, and sexually fluid — and Meyers, who usually dates women and identifies as gay — are open with each other and the public about their romantic relationships with other people. They may defy labels, but Tortorella is absolutely fine if you want to give him one.
“I think for so long there’s been like one quote-unquote normal way of life,” he says. “And anybody that doesn’t live in that structure needs to find a home of sorts. And I think labels are really important for kids, especially, [who] can’t find their tribe where they are, and need to go find their people, their family. For that reason, I think labels are extremely important.”
An increasingly staunch and vocal LGBT advocate, Tortorella may have initially gotten ribbed as a closet case, but there’s no closet large enough to hide his emotional sophistication and unbridled sexuality. Just as the actor is very different from the dashing men he played in The Following and Odd Thomas (and the recent Menendez: Blood Brothers with Courtney Love), fitness guru and former pro cheerleader Meyers is far from a stereotypical cuckolded girlfriend of a rising star.