Two months after publicly announcing his sexual orientation, Garrett Claytonis opening up about how being gay has impacted his acting career.
The Disney star, 27, recalled to Gay Times magazine about a time when he felt the industry pressured him to stay closeted.
“One of the first things somebody who was instrumental in starting my career did, they sat me down and they said, ‘Are you gay?’ And I could feel the pressure of the question, so I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m gay, or bi, or whatever,’ because suddenly I could feel that there was something wrong with that in this person’s eyes,” Clayton said.
“They looked at me and said, ‘No one wants to f— the gay guy, they want to go shopping with him, so we’re going to have to figure this out.’ It turned into this situation where I’d get calls and they’d say, ‘You still need to butch it up’. I literally had to change everything about myself at that point, otherwise I was never gonna make it.”
Clayton landed a starring role on the Disney Channel’s Teen Beach Movie and on Freeform’s The Fosters.
“That was so conflicting because here’s somebody offering you your dream, but they’re telling you that you’re not good enough the way you are. You’re talented, but who you are isn’t good enough,” the actor recalled. “So they had me changing the way I walked, the way I spoke, the way I dressed, the way I answered questions. It got as petty as them saying, ‘People need to see that you’re into sports because they’ll think that’s more masculine, so why don’t you go buy a sports hat, take some pictures in it, and make sure people see you in it.’ “
In addition to “changing” certain parts of himself, Clayton reflected on the casting process and going to auditions.
“There’d be calls after I went into casting offices like, ‘Hey, this is how gay casting thought you came across today, so here’s what you need to do to fix it’. I even had cast members screaming drunkenly in the middle of a room, ‘Who here thinks Garrett is gay?’ and then yelling at me for not having come out yet,” he said.
The incident lead to a “dark” time in his life and a decision to seek help.
“I convinced myself that I was the problem, and I got into a really dark place for a couple of years. Then I went to therapy for about a year and a half to really sort through all the things I went through growing up and the situations I found myself in while in Hollywood. I got to work through all those conflicting things,” he said.
In August, Clayton revealed his sexuality while discussing his movie Reach.
“I thought it was important to explain why I took on this project in the first place,” he wrote on Instagram. “REACH deals with some very serious and timely topics that have affected me personally, and have likely influenced many of your lives as well.”
Clayton said he decided to take on the role because of the personal connections he and the “man I’ve been in a relationship with for a long time” have to the film. The actor tagged boyfriend Blake Knight in the post.
“I have personally dealt with suicide within my own family, intense bullying in high school, and – on top of it all – myself and the man I’ve been in a relationship with for a long time (@hrhblakeknight) have both experienced shootings within our hometown school systems, and have witnessed the heartache that takes place in affected communities after such tragic events,” he continued.
On the decision to come out publicly, Clayton told Gay Times: “The decision to come out was finally feeling comfortable as me. I just felt like, ‘OK, I’m finally ready to do this’, and I think that’s the most important thing to take away from this is that everyone has to do it when they feel comfortable.”