Words: Steve Brown
Swan Lake star Sam Salter has opened up about struggling with his sexuality and his sobriety.
The British ballet dancer joined the cast in Matthew Bourne’s reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s classic stage show for the 2018/2019 tour, which has been met with rave reviews.
Sam Salter, shot by Jenny Brough exclusively for Attitude's July issue
“I didn’t want to be gay at that time,” he tells Attitude. “The world is moving forward but there’s pressure to be a certain way in society.
“I felt I had to be this person who I wasn’t. I had to lower my voice, act tough, and I was not tough.
“I was a softy. I would cry every day. I didn’t play football, I never played PlayStation. I was a horse rider, I did ballet.
“It was difficult trying to be somebody who I was not.”
Sam goes on to say how he would feel guilty after hooking-up with other guys while struggling with his sexuality, but says his family were ‘so supportive’.
Sam Salter in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake
He continues: “It was a process. I would have a guilty feeling after getting with guys.
“But my family was so supportive. My sister was great. So, it was fine in the end.”
Sam eventually moved from Tunbridge Wells to London where he struggled with drug and alcohol abuse after experiencing the party scene and says it helped with his confidence.
“I’m naturally quite shy in certain situations and around guys who I liked in clubs, so I loved the person I was when I was taking substances and drunk because I was confident,” he says.
“If someone didn’t like me, it didn’t matter. I often did get more attention from guys when I was partying because I had this confidence that I always wanted when I was younger, when I was very much in my shell.”
Photograph: Jenny Brough
However, Sam joined a 12-step programme to help him off his addictions and, although he relapsed a few weeks ago, he says he made some ‘great friends’ on the way to sobriety.
He continues: “For the first time, I felt I’d found a community I could relate to.
“I’ve made some great friends there. You share so much, it really opens up to parts of yourself you have hidden for so long. It’s an ongoing process.”
Read Sam’s full interview in Attitude’s July issue – out now, featuring a second alternate cover with Tales of the City star Murray Bartlett.