Charlie Carver, one of the actors starring in the new Netflix screen adaptation of The Boys in the Band, shares in an interview with Variety that he decided to publicly come out five years ago after being on the receiving end of a literal slap to the face for not appearing masculine in public.
According to Carver, he was attending an Emmy Awards party in 2015 when a gay colleague criticized him three times throughout the evening for how he ‘presented’ himself.
“I was told that I needed to ‘get it under control’ around people in the business,” Carver shared with Variety.
At the end of soiree, Carver ran into his friend while waiting for his car at the valet. Asking his colleague for ‘clarification’ about the earlier comments, the man slapped Carver across the face.
“It wasn’t playful but intentional, pointed and meant to be instructive. A slap,” says the actor. “I told him that if he ever touched me again, I would name him.”
While the episode was certainly shocking for its physicality, Carver, who is 32-years-old today, says, “That was the moment when I said to myself, ‘I can’t do this. I cannot police myself in that way.’”
The actor, who was best known at the time for regular appearances on Desperate Housewives and Teen Wolf, came out a few months later in January 2016 via his Instagram account.
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Pt 1: “Be who you needed when you were younger”. About a year ago, I saw this photo while casually scrolling through my Instagram one morning. I’m not one for inspirational quotes, particularly ones attributed to “Mx Anonymous”- something mean in me rebukes the pithiness of proverbs, choosing to judge them as trite instead of possibly-generally-wise, resonant, or helpful. And in the case of the good ol’ Anonymous kind, I felt that there was something to be said for the missing context. Who wrote or said the damn words? Why? And to/for who in particular? Nonetheless, I screen-capped the picture and saved it. It struck me for some reason, finding itself likeable enough to join the ranks of the “favorites” album on my phone. I’d see it there almost daily, a small version of it next to my other “favorites”; I’d see it every time I checked into the gym, pulled up a picture of my insurance cards, my driver’s license…. Important Documents. And over the course of about-a-year, it became clear why the inspirational photo had called out to me. As a young boy, I knew I wanted to be an actor. I knew I wanted to be a lot of things! I thought I wanted to be a painter, a soccer player, a stegosaurus… But the acting thing stuck. It was around that age that I also knew, however abstractly, that I was different from some of the other boys in my grade. Over time, this abstract “knowing” grew and articulated itself through a painful gestation marked by feelings of despair and alienation, ending in a climax of saying three words out loud: “I am gay”. I said them to myself at first, to see how they felt. They rang true, and I hated myself for them. I was twelve. It would take me a few years before I could repeat them to anyone else, in the meantime turning the phrase over and over in my mouth until I felt comfortable and sure enough to let the words pour out again, this time to my family…
Two years later, Carver made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning revival of Mort Crowley’s iconic play about gay men at a birthday party in Greenwich Village, The Boys in the Band. All of the actors in the highly-acclaimed production were openly gay/bisexual.
The entire cast was reunited, along with the production’s director Joe Mantello, by producer Ryan Murphy for the newly-released TV version of the play.
Carver stars in Boys as the hunky “Cowboy,” a hustler hired as a gift for “Harold,” the birthday boy in the story played by Zachary Quinto.
Carver is also currently appearing as a series regular in Murphy’s new psychological thriller for Netflix, Ratched, in which the handsome actor plays “Huck Finnagan,” a disfigured hospital orderly. And he’s set to appear in the upcoming The Batman alongside Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz.
Carver recently told The Advocate he’s “felt this sort of sense of relaxing” into himself since coming out.
“To have kind of other champions in this business who gave me a chance, Ryan Murphy being one of them, they saw something in me and they let me be a part of it,” Carver shared. “Then opportunities led to other opportunities … I started kind of stepping into myself, and I believe when you do that, doors open.”
You can catch Carver (and all the ‘boys’) in The Boys in the Band, currently streaming on Netflix.