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COLTON’S HEARTACHE

After Colton Haynes came out as gay, he was blamed for his father’s suicide
By Christopher Turner

It’s been a challenging year for Colton Haynes, but the 28-year-old actor says he’s in a much better place after publicly coming out as gay earlier this year.
The star of MTV’s Teen Wolf and the CW’s Arrow covers the September issue of OUT magazine, where he discusses his severe anxiety, the emotional challenges of coming to terms with his sexuality over the years, his father’s suicide and being encouraged to hide his sexuality when he entered show business.
“I feel really bad that I had to lie for so long,” Haynes says. “But I was told that was the only way I was going to be successful. When you’re young in this industry, people take advantage of you, and they literally tell you that your dreams are going to come true. If you believe that, you’ll do anything. And you do believe it, especially if you’re from Kansas.”
In the in-depth interview Haynes talks about something familiar to many within the LGBT community; the struggles of growing up gay in a small town. He describes his hometown of Andale, Kansas, as a place where “you just couldn’t be gay.” When he came out to his friends and family at age 14, he became the victim of bullying that was so brutal that his brother had to meet him after classes to protect him. The actor says his parents were devastated when he came out, so he ran away from home. He was staying with a friend when he learned that his father, William, had committed suicide.
“I was told that my dad killed himself because he found out I was gay. So, of course, I lost it and was like, ‘How could you say something like that?’ And no one will ever really know the truth,” Haynes recalls. “But my brother and my mom went to pick up my dad’s stuff, and the only picture on his fridge was my eighth-grade graduation picture. So I was just like, f**k.”
The news of his father’s overdose brought extreme feelings of guilt and he developed severe anxiety, something he’s dealt with his entire life. After his father’s death, Haynes says, things got to the point where he finally fled Kansas and went to live with his sister, Willow, first in Florida and then in Texas. After a few years, he realized he was ready to pursue an acting career, so he made his way to Los Angeles, where he was told to hide his sexual orientation. So … he did.
Of course, Haynes’ story of pressure from his management to conceal his sexuality isn’t new. Countless LGBT stars through the years have shared similar stories of being told to stay in the closet to further their Hollywood careers.
Haynes finally came out publicly as a gay man in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in May. “I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and healthier than I’ve ever been, and that’s what I care about,” he said at the time.
It was a sigh of relief. His sexuality had been the subject of years of speculation from press and fans.
“I should have made a comment or a statement, but I just wasn’t ready,” he said after coming out. “Everyone has to make those decisions when they’re ready, and I wasn’t yet. But I felt like I was letting people down by not coming forward with the rest of what I should have said.”
Now that he’s out, Haynes is adamant that he’s happier than he’s ever been—he credits therapy for helping him deal with the dark times that he’s experienced in the spotlight and out of it. (He’s battled some degree of anxiety since he was in fifth grade, but it spiked dramatically in recent years, in large part because of the way he shielded his sexual orientation.) Today, he describes therapy as “the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
So, what’s next for the actor, gay heartthrob and social media star? (Seriously … are you following him on Instagram?) Well, he’s back at work with his first gig as an out actor, a much-hyped mystery role on the second season of Fox’s Scream Queens. Plus, he might just be ready for another relationship. Haynes says he’s looking for a combination of his three celebrity crushes: John Cena, Idris Elba and Ryan Reynolds. “Someone who just descended from a mountain and said, ‘I don’t have any friends. Would you like to come live with me?’ I’d love that. I want to somehow have a happy ending. Or a happy beginning.”
CHRISTOPHER TURNER acted as guest editor for this issue of IN Magazine. He is a Toronto-based writer, editor and lifelong fashionisto with a passion for pop culture and sneakers. Follow him on social media at @Turnstylin.

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