Colton Haynes Details Hollywood's Humiliations, Lingering Anti-LGBTQ+ Bias

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday December 7, 2021

Out actor Colton Haynes details naked role playing, referrals to, being coached not to seem gay, and other humiliations in a new essay for Vulture about his early days in Hollywood.

The "Teen Wolf" actor details how he dreamed of showbiz as a gay teen in Kansas, go-go dancing at gay bars while he was still underage and then scoring a modeling gig for XY magazine. But when he and his boyfriend at the time took the leap and went to Hollywood, Haynes immediately ran into the industry's homophobic double standard, being told at a management company that his body language was "too theater" — "Code for gay," as Haynes explains in the essay — even as he was instructed in how to use his youthful sex appeal to draw the interest of powerful men in the business.

A man Haynes calls "Brad" recommended a new haircut and other butch revisions to his appearance and mannerisms, before pairing Haynes up to work with "Ethan," another young actor, who had already done some TV work. The two were assigned to work on a sex scene, which they were expected to perform nude in front of Brad and everyone else in an acting class.

Haynes details his confusion when Ethan suggested the two of them kiss in preparation for the scene:

"He gazed into my eyes with such tenderness it confused me. Were we about to actually have sex? Or was this acting? Then his eyes went cold. 'Okay,' he said, 'let's run the scene.'"

After the two performed the scene for the class, Haynes writes, Brad issued a compliment to Ethan, saying, "Your balls hang so low."

In his further dealings with Brad, Haynes writes, he experienced a type of manipulation he already understood:

"In our next on-camera class, Brad praised me. 'Everyone needs to look at Colton,' he said. 'This kid is going places.' I knew what he was doing: withholding validation, then meting it out one morsel at a time so you craved the attention even as you hated him for being stingy with it."

"It was the kind of behavior that bonded him to the damaged young people who passed through his class," Haynes said.

But when a producer Brad was trying to entice into taking note of Haynes remained unimpressed even after Brad sent him some documents special delivery — via Haynes, wearing an unbuttoned Western shirt and cowboy hat — Brad wrote Haynes off, the actor claims, severing ties with Haynes and recommending he seek work with escort service if he needed funds.

Yahoo! Entertainment, reporting on the essay, boils down its essence to this excerpt:

"To be a gay actor in Hollywood, even in 2021, is to be inundated with mixed messages: 'Consumers are mostly straight, so don't alienate them,' 'But lots of the decision-makers are gay, so play that game!'"

His career experience after coming out in 2016 does little to dispel that message. "When I was closeted, I beat out straight guys to play straight roles," Haynes writes. "Now, the only auditions I get are for gay characters, which remain sparse."

"It's no different for the young gay actors I see coming up today, trying to make it in a system that isn't built for them," the "Arrow" actor adds.

Movingly, Haynes reflects: "I often wonder how different things would've been if I were allowed to be who I was when I moved to town: a hopeful kid confident in his sexuality."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.