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Art Mirrors Life in The Real O’Neals Premiere

Art Mirrors Life in The Real O’Neals Premiere

Noah Galvin

The Advocate spoke with out star Noah Galvin about coming-out lessons in the real world as well as the ABC show.


Noah Galvin is the only out person in a heterosexual-heavy space. He's disappointed by the lack of other out people. As a result, he tries to pressure closeted folks to come out and join his cause.

This is the main storyline of the season 2 premiere of The Real O'Neals, an ABC comedy that centers around a gay teen in a Catholic family. In the episode, Kenny, played by out actor Noah Galvin, launches an LGBT club in his high school. "If I build it, they will come out," he reasons, fantasizing queer students rushing to join because, "I've done a lot for them."

He's disappointed by the turnout: just one student named Allison. "I wear a lot of brown and blend in," she says in a monotone voice, becoming a foil for the peppy and rainbow-sock wearing Kenny. When he learns Allison is still closeted to her family -- it's National Coming Out Day on the show as well as the date it aired on Tuesday -- Kenny urges her to come out to them. Later, he realizes such an act might endanger her safety.

For those who have followed Galvin's real-life drama this year, the essence of this story will sound familiar. Galvin, 22, ignited a storm of controversy in June when he blasted casting directors who discriminated against gay talent as well as closeted actors for the "wishy-washy bullshit" that perpetuates a culture of bias. Some of this overall outrage is warranted. He remains one of the only out actors playing a gay man on network television, a sad reality that is rooted in a system that many perceive as discriminatory.

He later apologized for the Vulture interview, which used vulgar language to describe closeted actors. Galvin had choice words for Colton Haynes, in particular. He called the newly out Arrow actor "the worst" for his practice of gay-baiting fans while remaining in the glass closet. Galvin was unaware of Haynes' past. In his cover story for Out magazine, Haynes revealed a troubled upbringing in Kansas in a place where "you just couldn't be gay." His father took his own life, and there were those that unfairly blamed Haynes' sexual orientation for the act.

There are several parallels between Galvin and his fictional counterpart. Like Kenny, Galvin had a relatively easy coming out. There was no risk of violence or being kicked out of his home. He explained this privilege in a recent conciliatory op-ed in Out magazine, as well as the "understanding that for some, coming out can be dangerous, and for many, staying in the closet is the bravest option."

"In my interview, I was sarcastic and critical, and that distracted from what I hoped to articulate, and that's my desire for everyone to be whole and loved, regardless of where they are in the process of discovering themselves," he said.

In many ways, this message echoes what Kenny told Allison at the conclusion of the season 2 premiere. "It was wrong of me to force you to come out to your parents before you're ready. That's not my call to make," he said, adding, "It was important for me. I got caught up in my experience, and how now that I'm out, everybody else should be too. But my journey is not yours. You have to come out when it's safe and right for you."

Galvin reiterated this understanding to The Advocate at The Real O'Neals premiere Tuesday at the Paley Center in Los Angeles.

"This year, I have learned that everybody's coming-out story is different," he said. "It's something I knew, but I think being on the show and having people write to me on Twitter and DM me on Instagram and Facebook, my eyes have been opened to so many different experiences and the little nuances that come with thousands of different coming-out stories."

Regardless, Galvin stands by the core message of the interview he gave with Vulture; that in order for Hollywood to become a more welcoming place for LGBT actors, it will require closeted Hollywood players to reexamine their priorities. And coming out is part of what needs to be done in order for things to get better.

"It's gonna take actors and industry professionals to do the thing they don't want to do, and rip off that band-aid, and come out of the closet, so that it becomes -- I don't like the word normalizing -- so that it shows other people that it's not so scary. We can't think of our careers before our livelihood," he said. "Though it may limit you for a small time in your career, it shouldn't overshadow the idea of being a happy, healthy person."

Galvin also stressed that mainstream Hollywood also has an obligation to its LGBT talent.

"I would like to see casting directors and network execs ... welcome us all with open arms and not be so limited in their views on homosexuality and a thousand different things that could scare people," he concluded.

Watch The Advocate's interview with The Real O'Neals star below.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.