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‘It was a scary time. We got death threats’ – ‘Will & Grace’s’ Sean Hayes reveals why he waited to come out

The 'Will & Grace' star discusses life and career in our new December issue.

By Steve Brown

Words: Steve Brown

When Will & Grace ended its first run back in 2006 after a seven series run, our lives were empty as the characters we loved – and more importantly able to identify with – were no longer on our screens.

The show was a tremendous success during its first run and was the first prime-time television series on U.S. terrestrial television to star openly gay lead characters, and was met with critical acclaim.

Last year the stars of the hit NBC show – including Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally – returned for a ninth series revival and following the success of the revival, Will & Grace is currently airing its tenth season in America and has been renewed for an eleventh.

However, for the stars it was not all fun and games during the first run and Sean – who played the camp fan-favourite character Jack McFarland – was forced to hide his own sexuality due to the amount of death threats they all received.

In Attitude’s December issue – which is available to download and buy now – cover star Sean opens up about why he didn’t come out until 2010 – four years after the show which catapulted him to fame ended.

Sean Hayes, shot by Magnus Hastings for the December issue of Attitude

He says: “It was a scary time. We got death threats, [people] could find out where I lived, and I was playing a gay character in a big hit show. 

“I was too scared. I wasn’t looking to be an activist of any kind. I didn’t have the courage and the strength at such a young age to speak on behalf of the gay community.”

Now, Hayes is a happy, openly gay man who married his partner Scott Icenogle back in 2014 and tells Attitude that he has “nothing to hide any more”.

“I was brought up in the entertainment industry at a different time,” he explains.

“So, I thought I had to be elusive and mysterious. And it’s so funny, it’s so not me. I’m an open book. We were taught by society in the Seventies and Eighties that being gay was an awful thing … I was taught to keep it a secret, I was taught to be ashamed of it.

“And now that we’re older and wiser, we have to be bigger than that and work against it … But time’s up!

“Time’s up in a different way for the gay community to show the world that we’re OK with ourselves and I’m done taking care of [other people’s] awkwardness around it.”

Read the full interview with Sean in Attitude’s December issue out now in a double cover shoot with Little Mix.

Buy now and take advantage of our best-ever subscription offers: 3 issues for £3 in print, 13 issues for £19.99 to download to any device.