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Russell Tovey is ready to talk art and sexuality as he leads the Attitude May issue

The star of 'Looking' and 'Years and Years' reflects on queerness as a force for creation.

By Will Stroude

Russell Tovey has established himself as one of TV and film’s most prolific British actors over the last decade, with acclaimed roles in everything from HBO’s Looking and Russell T Davies’ Years & Years to big-screen films like The Pass and The Good Liar.

Now, the 39-year-old is exploring his passion for art of a different kind, using the wildly popular Talk Art podcast he co-hosts with Robert Diament to discuss fine art with some of the biggest legends the business.

Russell wears tee by CDLP for the Attitude May issue, out now to download and to order globally

Ahead of the release of his new book Talk Art: Everything You Wanted to Know About Contemporary Art but Were Afraid to Ask, Russell lands colourfully on the cover of the Attitude May issue – out now to download and to order globally – as he reflects on the unique creative perspectives of queer people.

In conversation with the ‘godfather of Brit Art’ (and good friend) Sir Michael Craig-Martin, Russell sheds more light on his own personal history and sexuality – and the power it’s given him to help tell other people’s stories through his own artistic medium of film.

Russell wears shirt by Moschino (Photography: Mark Cant)

“I was doing a TV show and I was desperately in love with this much older actor and had such a crush on him, and I didn’t think anyone knew”, Russell recalls of coming to terms with his own sexuality. “I thought I was hiding it very well, but I wasn’t.

“This older actress took me for a walk along the beach where it was filming and explained to me that I might be gay. She said, ‘If you are, that’s great; if you’re not, that’s fine. But you might be.’ It felt like, oh, that’s an option. That is something I can possibly be. That’s what these feelings I’m having are.”

He adds: “It’s confusing because you’re living in a world where you’re being told there’s nowhere you can look to understand, what are my feelings?

“You feel lost and at that age, to have someone put their hand out and go, ‘Come here. This is just me giving a bit of advice.’ It stayed with me forever and changed everything.”

Also in the Attitude May issue, which serves as a World View: Queer Perspectives special…

Academy Award winner Kate Winslet discusses her latest role as Dorset’s 19th-century fossil-hunter Mary Anning in Ammonite, and explains her hope that the film will help to normalise same-sex relationships and increase queer roles for LGBTQ actors.

Aussie pro wrestler Dave Marshall reveals how wrestling his way out of the closet gave him the confidence to jump in the ring.

Dave Marshall (Photography Richard Mati)

Director of gay Ausssie drama Sequin In a Blue Room, Samuel Van Grinsven, reveals how he’s putting his own twist on the queer coming-of-age narrative.

Sequin In a Blue Room star Conor Leach

After going viral with an out and proud Instagram post, Bolu Okupe – son of a homophobic Nigerian politician – opens up about living his best “Gay AF” life, no matter what the haters have to say.

Bolu Okupe (Photography: Xavier Héraud)

Environmental drag ‘thing’ Pattie Gonia, speaks up about activism, queering up the outdoors, and what she has both lost and found as a result of being unapologetically herself.

Pattie Gonia

Showing off his curves and swerves, Mauricio Peña shines a light on the importance of body positivity.

Mauricio Peña (Photography: Francisco Gomez de Villaboa)

Star of The Boulet Brother’s Dragula: Rsurrection, the drop-dead gore-geous Kendra Onixxx, is this month’s Big In a Wig.

Kendra Onixxx

Author George M. Johnson discusses gender boundaries and the need for change in their young adult, non-fiction ‘memoir-manifesto’, All Boys Aren’t Blue.

George M Johnson wears jumpsuit by 1389Woodliff (Photography: Sean Howard)

We meet Wapi, an Amazonian tribesman based in northern Brazil, for a frank discussion about sexuality.

Wapi (Photography: Sarah Begum)

The drag divas of Taiwan: Category is… the flourishing drag scene and growing LGBTQ+ inclusivity in Taiwan/Chinese Taipei/Republic of China.

Photography: Naomi Goddard

We bring you an in-depth look at the documentary film I Am Samuel, which offers a rare insight into the real-life struggles of a gay Kenyan, his partner and their journey to find acceptance within their rural, religious family. 

I Am Samuel

Meanwhile, in fashion, model James Yates sports denim, diamonds and the season’s hottest underwear. 

James wears denim jacket and jeans, both by Moschino, pearls, stylist’s own (Photography: Mark Cant)

That’s alongside all your usual news, reviews and opinion, of course…

The Attitude May issue is out now to download and to order globally.

Subscribe in print and get your first three issues for just £1 each, or digitally for just £1.08 per issue (limited time only).