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Russell Tovey found effeminate gay men controversy ‘very upsetting’

By Will Stroude

Russell Tovey has reflected on controversial comments he made last year about effeminate gay men in a new interview with the Metro, published today (December 8).

The Looking star was heavily criticised in March 2015 after revealing that he was grateful for being sent to a school where he wasn’t allowed to “prance around” and was forced to “toughen up”, saying that he could have become “really effeminate” otherwise.

Reflecting on the backlash he received, Tovey told Metro that he “never meant to upset anyone”, and that he took the comments to heart.

“Things come out the way you don’t intend them too”, he explained. “It was a very upsetting time for me. I wasn’t expecting that sort of attention.”

He continued: “I learned a lot from it and I’ve grown from it. It’s made me feel more impassioned about my responsibility, which I took for granted.

“I never set out to be anything other than an actor, but when you’re from a minority of any type and become successful you become an ambassador by proxy, which is something I’m fine with now.”

The 35-year-old, whose latest film The Pass hits cinemas tomorrow (December 9), went on to say he believes that social media exacerbated the controversy.

“It’s the phenomenon of social media”, he said. “You’ll always make some people unhappy no matter what you say. You can say, ‘I really like this blue shirt’, then other people will say, ‘Blue makes me sad, how dare you’.

“I’ve found you’ve just got to be true to yourself, be a good person and the work should speak for itself”.

He added: I have to do interviews and now I’m more understanding of what I say and what it means”.

Despite trying to put on macho airs growing up, Tovey said in an interview last month that he never struggled with his actual sexuality growing up, explaining that he “was never tortured about being gay in the way that Jason [his character in The Pass] is.

You can read our full feature Russell’s co-star in The Pass, Arinzé Kene, in Attitude’s January issue, available to download from and in shops now.

Print copies are available to order globally from


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