Words: Will Stroude
Pretty Little Liars star Tyler Blackburn has come out publicly as bisexual, saying he's privately identified as such since his teens but has only recently found the courage to fully embrace his sexuality.
The American actor, who played Caleb Rivers across seven seasons of the hit ABC Famly teen drama, told The Advocate he was ready to feel "as free as as possible" after spending years suppressing an "underlying curiosity" about men.
"I'm queer," the 32-year-old said. "I've identified as bisexual since [I was] a teenager.”
"I just want to feel powerful in my own skin, and my own mind, and in my own heart."
Blackburn is currently starring in The CW’s sci-fi series Roswell, New Mexico as gay war veteran and amputee Sgt. Alex Manes, and the actor admitted that he related to the role as someone who had also grown up "feeling oppressed".
Revealing he was bullied during his teen years for being different, Blackburn explained that it wasn't until the last few years that he fully began embracing and exploring his sexuality.
“I heard so many things from within the queer community about bisexuality being a cop-out or bullshit or the easy way out or something, and that always stuck with me because I felt the pressure from all sides to have [my sexuality] figured out," he said.
“And I think for the longest time, I suppressed more of my attraction to men."
He continued: "It wasn’t until my late 20s, towards the end of Pretty Little Liars, that I really allowed myself to go there and not just wonder about it or lust over it, but experience that vulnerability and experience the emotional aspect of what it is to be bisexual."
Now one of a growing number of out queer actors in Hollywood, Blackburn explained how greater public discussion of sexual fluidity over the last few years has helped encourage him to be open about his own identity.
“I’m so tired of caring so much. I just want to live my truth and feel OK with experiencing love and experiencing self-love,” he said.
"Yes, there is an element of, I want to feel like it’s OK to hold my boyfriend’s hand as I’m walking down the street, and not worry. Is someone going to look and be like, ‘Whoa, is that guy from that show? I didn’t know that [he was queer.]’
"I want to own my space now."