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’13 Reasons Why’ star Deaken Bluman feels ‘lucky’ to have inspired young LGBTQ fans

"The show is about a community of people, different outcasts... fighting through the thick of life together."

By Will Stroude

After four seasons of angst, high drama, and a hefty amount of controversy, 13 Reasons Why has come to an end after a fourth and final instalment that didn’t skimp on the emotional stakes.

But among the headline-grabbing storylines the hit Netflix series has generated over the last few years, one of its lasting legacies will be its inclusion of LGBTQ characters and storylines, which have provided an outlet for thousands of LGBTQ youngsters.

“That’s a beautiful thing and feeling”, says Deaken Bluman, the fast-rising star whose portrayal of gay student Winston Williams saw him involved in some of 13 Reason’s Why’s most high-profile LGBTQ storylines.

Deaken Bluman for the Attitude September issue (Photography: Collin Stark)

“I feel lucky enough that I actually [play] someone who could possibly do that…”

At the tender age of 24, Deaken may already be settled down with his wife, Elin, but the screen star knows the power his character – and the show and large – hold for viewers questioning their sexuality and place in the world.

He tells the Attitude September issue, out now to download and to order globally: “The show is about a community of people, different outcasts, not our cultured norms, making their own bond, fighting through the thick of life together.

(Photography: Collin Stark)

“That is the great thing about the LGBT community, they’re beautiful outcasts coming together to make their own army of love.”

Many of Bluman’s scenes were shared with Miles Heizer (Alex) and Timothy Granaderos (Monty) and involved plenty of lip-locking – something the screen star says was a first for him on film. 

“It wasn’t uncomfortable. I knew they were coming eventually, so I had a handle on myself and [anyway] those kinds of scenes don’t bother me”, he says.

“I got to know these guys between scenes very quickly by asking them personal questions, like I was some sort of investigator [laughs]. It would open them up, I think.

“Timothy and I are from the same hometown in Kalamazoo, in Michigan — it’s so crazy. We already had an underlying connection [or] relationship because we are from that certain area.

“And, with Miles, it was very easy. Miles and I had a cool ‘dance’ going, we were always asking questions and wondering about each other, which [was] also reflected in the characters.

(Photography: Collin Stark)

“Doing those scenes wasn’t a problem, it added to the story, which was the goal.”

As a straight actor who’s played a high-profile gay role, Deaken has inevitably faced questions about whether LGBTQ actors should take precedence when it comes to LGBTQ characters – something he believes isn’t necessary as long as straight screen stars handle the material sensitively and with “honesty”. 

“It’s acting, man, we get to be who we wanna be,” he says. 

“When it comes from honesty, it doesn’t matter who [you’re portraying], [it is] just playing on the playground, learning new ideas.”

Read the full interview in the Attitude September issue, out now to download and to order globally.

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