A star of The Walking Dead has come out as gay in a heartfelt video on social media.
Daniel Newman, who plays a member of survivor colony The Kingdom on the hit US zombie drama, publicly acknowledged his sexuality for the first time on Twitter yesterday (30 March).
The 36-year-old star, who has also appeared on Homeland, The Vampire Diaries and Sex and the City, later addressed fans directly in a powerful video in which he said that he had decided to be true to himself despite facing pressure to remain the closet for the sake of his career.
The news comes less than two weeks after the popular character of Paul 'Jesus' Rovia, played by British actor Tom Payne, came out as gay in episode of the seventh season of The Walking Dead, whch currently airs in the UK on Monday nights on FX.
Daniel, who first appeared in the finale episode of season 6 when he came across characters Morgan (Lennie Jones) and Carol (Melissa McBride) before taking them back to his community, later released a video explaining what prompted him to come out.
The actor explained that he had decided publicly acknowledge his sexuality after being mistaken as straight by a young LGBT+ person while volunteering at a shelter for homeless gay youth.
"It hit me like a gut-punch," he said. "It felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me. I released how important it is in this day and age to be visible; have people know who you are."
Daniel, who also appears on the cover of 2017's Red Hot calendar celebrating the beauty of red-haired men, added that he'd faced pressure to stay in the closet publicly in order to protect his burgeoning TV and film career.
"I'm an actor. The whole world, the industry, is like 'here's your big break, you're on The Walking Dead, you can't come out, you can't be in the press, because everything you work so hard for is going to be gone - there's no gay or bi leading men, no action heroes, your career's going to be over'," he explained. "I don't care. Because I know what's right."
He added: "Whatever [happens] with my career's going to happen, but I'm standing with you guys."
The Georgia native explained that recent political events in the US had also inspired him to come out and be a visible member of the LGBT community.
"Right now around the world there an estimated 300 to 700 million LGBT [people]," he said. "That's larger than any army ever in history. Do you realise how powerful that is?"
He continued: "I grew up in an Irish Catholic family, a farm town in Georgia in the South, and it wasn't even about homophobia or anything; you just keep your private life private... So that's the way I've always been. But now is no the time any longer to keep it private.
"You see at this moment how rights are getting stripped form people so quickly. Who are the easiest people to take rights from? People who are invisible; people that are staying silent."
The screen star urged other LGBT+ people still hiding their true selves from their friends, families and communities to follow his lead and be open about who they really are.
"Hashtag #OUTandPROUD and let your community how incredible our culture is, and how incredible you are."