Last fall proved to be a life-altering time for Dan Amboyer (pictured, right), star of TV Land’s Younger. Not only did he marry his boyfriend of 10 years, Eric Berger, but he also came out publicly as gay. The announcement was covered by media outlets around the world, but before Amboyer and Berger were able to read kind messages, they were off on their honeymoon — “I’ll get to my inbox when I’m back,” Amboyer remembers saying.
“It would have been exciting and inspiring as a kid to read about other people like me — and how life could change, how bad situations can grow, and [how] eventually you’ll find happiness,” he reflects. “I came out to my family when I was 13. I was a very young kid, a vulnerable kid. I’d be [slipping] The Advocate [inside other] magazines of the day before people knew about my sexuality.”
Amboyer’s talent and ambition led him to become only a handful of out actors in Hollywood playing straight, cisgender roles on television. Though audiences are learning to bridge the gap between an actor’s on- and off-screen identities, Amboyer says it wasn’t always the case.
“When you’re coming up in the business, there are so many people giving you advice, and people prepping you for interviews: what to say, what not to say,” he reflects on the early days of trying to keep his sexuality hidden. “When you don’t know the business, you kind of take all that on and say, ‘This is what I need to do, and I need to do what people tell me to do.’”
There have been times, Amboyer says, when he and Berger kept their romance silent, citing it as a “business decision,” fearing it might interfere with casting decisions. “We’ve had our own personal evolutions,” he says. “It gets tricky to have someone you care about on the sideline... and have people not know who he is. It felt very strange. It felt very inauthentic.” He adds, “When we decided to get married, I wanted people to know about it and celebrate it like anyone else would.”
Nowadays, Amboyer says executives are learning how to differentiate between an actor’s sexual identity and the life they might bring to their characters on screen. “I put it forth as a challenge to the industry to continue thinking of actors, regardless of sexuality, with open eyes and open hearts that they can play any role,” he says.
Amboyer and costar Nico Tortorella have parallel journeys. Both play womanizing straight cisgender men on the show, and in the last year both have come out publicly — Tortorella as bisexual, and Amboyer as gay. Hollywood is evolving in other ways, too.
Anthony Rapp’s sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Spacey, for example, resulted in Spacey’s firing from the Netflix show, House of Cards. “There’s a little bit more awareness of how we talk to each other and how things are perceived,” Amboyer says of the post-Weinstein era. “[Rapp] was a really positive mentor to me in my teenage years. I’m happy for the dialogue [Rapp’s allegations] sparked and the support he’s getting. It’s a hard thing to do.”
Amboyer’s latest role is in Lifetime’s made-for-TV movie A Very Merry Toy Store, which premiered last November. He also directed a new play called Chained, by New York City-based playwright Jordan Jaffe in December 2017. “I can see from my side how many different factors go into it. When I decided to come out, [casting directors] were like ‘It’s great you’re doing this, but understand you’ll never play that superhero now,’” he shares. “I hope some of that goes away now, a little bit. I hope we can be more unfiltered in our lives and conversations.”