I think gay men and sexual responsibility is a touchy subject. People misread your words as censorious.
That is not what I am in any sense of the imagination, and I am not trying to adopt that platform. People said something about Ďslut-shamingí. Iím like, ĎCome on please, thatís absurd. I love slutsí. (Laughs)
Would you take PrEP?
Err, no, I havenít thought about it. But I canít say I never would. I donít know the answer. For me itís not something Iíve considered based on the conversations I have had and the decisions I have made. I donít take prescription medication. I canít remember the last time I took antibiotics. For me itís not about this particular drug, but the pharmaceutical industry and corporatisation of it. That feels very separate to my well-being.
I agree with what you said. Thereís touchiness around even the suggestion that gay men might want to think about the amount of sex they have, how they have it and why they have it. And now along comes a drug which seems like a kind of answerÖ
Which lowers inhibitions, yes. Where are the boundaries with ourselves and with our partners, be they one or multiple? At least the conversation I have generated is being had. I am not moralising that one way is the right way. If you and your doctor think PrEP is the way to take care of yourself, then that is a very personal and private decision I respect. My concern stems more from a human thing. Itís more of an esoteric kind of like, ĎWhere are we hurtling ourselves, into the abyss of connecting but not connecting?í For me itís more of a spiritual crisis, a human, collective, existential crisis.
How do you feel about World AIDS Day?
Itís still utterly essential, not just in marking the advancement, progress, and fight against the disease, but also cultivating knowledge and awareness of it for people all over the world. Itís easy in Western countries to disseminate information and have conversations about things, but when you get into parts of the world restricted by fundamentalist religious or societal religions or beliefs, the common conversation becomes crucial.
What is it like being the most high-profile out gay man in Hollywood, and a role model?
The only thing I care about in terms of my public persona, and I really want to cultivate in terms of that, is to help young kids that are really struggling in the LGBT community to whatever extent I can help them, serve their well-being and their greater potential. Iíve been really moved when I hear from younger people who donít have the access or means to extricate themselves from what could be judgmental or oppressive environments. That theyíre able to find some strength or perseverance in things Iíve said or put out there is always moving to me.
Where do you think the fight for LGBT equality is now?
Legally, and in terms of marriage equality, itís been a staggering five years, but we have achieved that milestone. We have to continue to put pressure on county clerks who are deliberately and actively defying the ruling of the Supreme Court and not issuing marriage licences (like Kentuckyís Kim Davis). Just a couple of weeks ago the first gay couple to graduate from (elite military academy) West Point were attacked in the bodega blocks near where I live. Bigotry isnít something that gets eradicated because of legislation, but legislation is a great tool and weapon for us to fight with.
You grew up in Pittsburgh. How was that as a young gay man?
I grew up in a pretty traditional, suburban environment. I was raised Catholic. I was an altar boy. I read in Mass. I went to a Catholic school. Obviously as a kid trying to come to terms with my own identity, it was challenging at times, because I was indoctrinated with this belief that being gay was wrong. Homosexuality was laden with judgements.
Did you try to be straight in some way?
Yes, I denied the curiosity and I denied the impulse. I would have occasional sexual fumbles with my schoolmates. At college I really didnít have sex. I just poured myself into my work and wasnít really sexually active. (Laughs) I missed some pretty important years. I was sort of tortured over it, but the torture was apt for drama school. This very creative place gave me different kinds of outlets to wrestle with it. By the end of college I came out to my best friend. I came out later to my family. I was terrified to tell my mom and brother, but they were absolutely supportive. My mom probably had unconscious challenges within herself in terms of accepting it, but we worked through it together over the next few years, and she has come to support me and my life.
And your faith?
I never went to church again after graduating high school. I value a lot of aspects of my Catholic education and upbringing, but also recognise the deep-seated, hypocritical nature of the teachings and the political and internal machinations of the institution. I do think it engendered a spirituality in me that I have cultivated and developed in different ways.
Can you describe how?
I think the path is still revealing itself to me in lots of ways, but I would say the most profound spiritual experiences I have had have been shamanic in nature and have opened me up to a kind of earth spirit, and plant spirits that have taught me a lot. I donít know how that will continue to evolve, especially living in the urban jungle of Manhattan butÖ
Do you do it here?
No, I travel to South America and other places.
How have your relationships been?
I was naive about love. I felt like all I needed to do was come out and then I would blissfully find a relationship and live uninterrupted with the great love of my life. Needless to say that didnít happen in my early 20s, but it set me on a course to try and figure out what that means and why it wasnít presenting itself Ė and that took its own time and direction.