Daniel Franzese, who played high school student Damian alongside Lindsay Lohan in "Mean Girls," has come out publicly as gay, in an open letter posted online a week before the 10th anniversary of the cult comedy film.
The 35-year-old also says many may consider the news a "duh moment" and indicates he was reluctant to reveal his sexuality to the public earlier because he did not want to jeopardize his chances of playing other types of roles after portraying "a sensitive, moisturizing, Ashton Kutcher-loving, pink-shirt-wearing kid." After "Mean Girls" was released on April 30, 2004, Franzese appeared in "War of The Worlds" and several small-budget films.
"Damian, you had ruined my life," Franzese writes in the 828-word "coming out letter," which is addressed to his "Mean Girls" character, contains several quotes from the movie and was posted on the website Indiewire on Tuesday, April 22.
Franzese talked about his letter in a recent interview with the show "Dish Nation" (watch it below).
"So many people were constantly asking me if I was gay," he said. "I know this is also sort of like a 'duh moment' for a lot of people, like, 'Big headline! The gay guy from 'Mean Girls' comes out as gay!'"
"I think with 'Mean Girls' coming back into the zeitgeist so strongly at the 10-year anniversary, more and more people are coming up and talking to me about it again and especially, like, adult gay males are coming up to me. Some of them, really, in tears ... they're like, 'I know you're not really gay, but ...' I'm like, 'Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute -- let's rethink this.'"
"It really is only okay when Janis says it"
In his letter, Franzese describes how after filming "Mean Girls," he was "meeting a 'gay glass ceiling' in casting." He recalls showing up for an audition for a role of a straight, "blue-collar"-type married man and being turned away by the casting director, saying they told him they "were looking for a real 'man's man." The actor, who is clean-shaven in "Mean Girls," currently sports a thick beard, as seen in his headshot on his acting resume and in his on-air recent interview with "Dish Nation."
"However, I did turn down many offers to play flamboyant, feather-boa-slinging stereotypes that always seemed to be laughed at BECAUSE they were gay," he added. "How could I go from playing an inspirational, progressive gay youth to the embarrassing, cliched butt-of-a-joke?"
In his letter, he says his character marked a "natural and true representation of a gay teenager - a character we laughed with instead of at." In the movie, Lohan's character, Cady, meets Damian after he compliments her red hair and is formally introduced to him by his best friend Janis, played by Lizzy Caplan, as "too gay to function" -- a phrase described as "only okay" when she says it.
In his letter, Franzese says he hates it when people repeat that quote, adding: "Those people are part of the problem. They should refrain from using that phrase. It really is ONLY okay when Janis says it."
Daniel Franzese: I kissed a girl at the 'Mean Girls' premiere
Franzese also wrote that he has in the past deleted online comments about his sexuality. He says his family and friends knew he was gay and that his reps "usually lied" when asked about it to "protect" him. He adds that he "became celibate for a year and a half" after "Mean Girls," did not go to gay bars, "have any flings" and tried to portray himself as heterosexual in public.
"I even brought a girl to the 'Mean Girls' premiere and kissed her on the red carpet, making her my unwitting beard," he said.
Now, he says, he no longer fears going public with his sexuality.
"I had to remind myself that my parents named me Daniel because it means 'God is my judge.' So, I'm not afraid anymore. Of Hollywood, the closet or mean girls. Thank you for that, Damian. (And Tina)," Franzese wrote, referring to movie screenwriter and co-star Tina Fey.
Franzese also revealed that in June, he will serve as the Celebrity Grand Marshall of the Portland Gay Pride Parade.
On his Twitter page, he thanked his fans for their encouraging messages.
"Thank you all so much for your support, stories and kind words," he said. "I'm am truly moved. God Bless."
What about that anticipated "Mean Girls" reunion?
"You know, we've been trying to figure it out -- it's just everybody's all over the place," Franzese said on "Dish Nation."