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Attitude’s new columnist Daniel Franzese: ‘Why my dad won’t watch Looking’

By Attitude Magazine

You’ll recognise him as Damien from classic comedy film Mean Girls, and actor Daniel Franzese is back in a big way with a scene-stealing role as Eddie in the cult HBO series Looking.In his first column for, Franzese looks at the fact his father won’t watch his new show – and why he’s OK with that…_D5A2908Picture by Joshua Spencer.

There are many stories of struggle and acceptance in the LGBT community. I mean, we’re the only minority group that has to “come out’. Imagine if they all had to? “Mom? Dad? I’m black.” Coming out to our parents is often difficult despite the fact that “Mom always knows” – or at least, that was what I was told. I assume standing on the dining room table and singing Whitney’s Greatest Love of All before the first day of third grade might have been a giveaway.

When I grew up, I didn’t choose to be a football player or a police officer. I’m an actor. I feel as if this was a double whammy to my father. First I tell him I’m gay, then that I want to sing and dance in musicals!

My mom dragging him to one of my shows was always like me trying to drag my dog away from a bag of chips someone left in the street. When he did come, I would almost always catch him sleeping with his mouth agape during my 11 o’clock number.



Franzese in his breakout role in the 2004 comedy smash Mean Girls. 

Even though he hasn’t always been the most attentive audience member, my dad has been pretty accepting of my life. He’s met my current boyfriend, as well as boyfriends of Christmas pasts. He’s even made a few Dad jokes here and there: “I bet Danny likes the meat-lovers pizza,” that sort of thing.

But I’ve realised, at this point in my life, that full acceptance from my dad may be asking too much. My dad is an old-school Italian New Yorker. There’s more unnecessary masculinity and machismo on these guys than there is unnecessary glitter on a Lil’ Monster at a Gaga concert.

Now that he has spent years knowing he has a gay son, layers of anti gay-stigma have been painstakingly peeled away like bandages off his soul. Full parental acceptance, for those who are blessed enough to receive it, can take a lot of time. Each conversation with my father that veers in an LGBT direction has felt like a moment of healing, stripping away another level of ignorance.

Its quite possibly a life-long work in progress. I am up for that challenge.


Franzese with Looking co-star Frankie J. Alvarez (Agustin).

Nowadays, I’m acting on a gay TV show. I simulate sex. I make out with boys. I even play someone HIV-positive.

I want my dad to know how important this is for me: Not only am I working on a prestigious network like HBO, I’m portraying a rarely-seen character in American storytelling. My character in Looking, Eddie, is an HIV-positive person in a mixed-status sexual relationship. He’s living with HIV, but not as some stigmatised, victimised stereotype. The role has even led to me becoming an official ambassador for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

While I’m super-proud to be playing an important role on an HBO show, I guess its okay that my father gets a pass on this one. It might be too much for him to actually SEE it all go down: you know, the kissing and the sexytime stuff. Heck, in one memorable scene this season, Patrick (Jonathan Groff) is shown in his bathroom ‘preparing’ for a hot date (hint: his preparations involve a douche). It’s not exactly Dad-friendly stuff.

As gay men, we often struggle with patriarchal acceptance. Of course it’s always nice to have approval from your parents, but as an adult, is it something you really need? It’s not something I need anymore. I can be my OWN hero; my own cheerleader. I have that built-in support group of friends who become a second family. And as an actor, I’m lucky enough to also have fans – they’re who I’m acting for anyway, not my father.

Besides, my Mom is obsessed with Looking – so much so, she wants to give all the characters dating advice. I’ll save my Dad’s advice for the next time I buy a car.

Its probably more in his area of expertise than douching before a date, anyways.


– Daniel Franzese is an actor of stage and screen best known for his performances in films like Mean Girls and for ordering pizza at 11pm. Online, his viral videos Please Go Home and Sh*t Italian Moms Say have reached millions of viewers worldwide. Follow him @Whatsupdanny on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr and on He currently lives in Los Angeles, California where he stars as #EDDIEBEAR on HBO’s LOOKING.