JOHN BARROWMAN made history by playing one of the first openly gay superheroes Captain Jack Harness in BBC1 sci-fi series Torchwood.
And he believes football has a glut of potential “history makers” waiting to come out of the closet.
John Barrowman has said he knows there are closeted gay footballers[/caption]
The theatre veteran, 52, who appeared in last year’s series of ITV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, made the claim while recalling an exchange he had in the jungle with eventual winner, former Spurs and West Ham boss Harry Redknapp.
He told The Sun: “I had this conversation with Harry who apparently had never met a gay man before he met me in the jungle which I find hard to believe as I know they are gay footballers out there.”
Having discussed the topic at length with Harry, John has sympathy with footballers who fear coming out will have a negative impact on their careers.
Only a handful of elite players who have featured in the English top flight have come out, led by the late Justin Fashanu and more recently followed by former Aston Villa star Thomas Hitzlesperger, who revealed his sexuality three months after retiring, and ex-Leeds United defender Robbie Rogers, just after he quit the sport in 2013. He later made a professional comeback with LA Galaxy.
Harry Redknapp recently claimed I’m A Celeb campmate John was the first gay man he had ever met[/caption]
But he’s adamant in this modern era there’s no better time for high-profile figures in sport and movies to break the mould.
He said: “If people are fearful of coming out because of their job, they’re stupid because there are so many ways and people around to protect them now and if they come out, whether they’re sportsman or they are in Hollywood.
“There are so many people who really don’t care anymore who you sleep with.
“If you’re worried it’s going to affect your career, you’re living in another century.”
John and Harry starred together in the 2018 series of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here[/caption]
He added: “The thing I say to people who, if they are reading this, is think of how many young lives you will save and change if you as a prominent person in your field whether it be sports, in television and business, that if you come out and be your true self and show that you can be successful and can live your life and not worry about stereotype, you are going to help maybe that one kid who is struggling and possibly on the verge of doing something drastic in their life because they feel they are shut down and can’t be who they are.
“That’s the thing I look at when I’m speaking on my soapbox or playing a character who is gay or bisexual, is help that one person to be their own self.
“The person who does it is going to make history.”
John admits he lost out on big movie roles in the last because of his sexuality but his harsh treatment only gave him more determination to succeed.
The late Justin Fashanu led the way for top footballers coming out[/caption]
Speaking passionately about his snubs, he said: “In the past, I was told after meeting ‘we can’t hire him because he’s gay’.
“What the f*** does that mean you grey haired old white man?
“I’ve had that form older generation men who were not comfortable with it, they were like we can’t market that.”
And, ironically, John claims the most homophobic people in Hollywood are actually gay themselves.
Former Aston Villa star Thomas Hitzlesperger revealed his sexuality three months after retiring[/caption]
He explains: “We’ve always said the most homophobic people are the more conservative gay men and women running the industry.
“You’ll meet somebody who clearly I know is gay but yet they won’t cast somebody who is gay.
“I’ve heard conversations like that from prominent people in the industry saying I’m not going to cast a gay man to play a straight man and I’ve argued it at a cocktail party.”
John is not the type to swerve confrontation if there’s a point to be made.
Ex-Leeds United defender Robbie Rogers opened up about his sexuality just after he quit the sport in 2013[/caption]
Indeed, despite his adopted camp “Fabulous” catchphrase affectionately coined by Declan Donnelly on I’m A Celeb, he’s doesn’t suffer fools.
During out transatlantic phone conversation, he took the call at 9am LA time, he was as warm and cheeky as ever, but turned serious when discussing issues close to his heart.
I asked his thoughts on the age-old debate surrounding straight actors playing gay roles which has reared its head again courtesy of the upcoming release of the Elton John biopic Rocketman, starring
John has no problem with gay roles going to straight actors, but what he does take issue with is awards being handed out these actors just for playing a character of different sexuality.
Taron Egerton plays Elton John in upcoming biopic Rocketman[/caption]
Since the turn of the century, 25 actors have been Oscar nominated for playing LGBT+ roles including the late Heath Ledger and Olivia Colman who won Best Actor and Actress gongs for their performances in Brokeback Mountain and The Favourite.
John, who is promoting TUI Holidays, explains: “An actor’s job is to portray the part. The one thing I don’t agree with is people going ‘oh my god, it was such an amazing difficult role to play”. It’s really not that hard to be gay.
“They make such a big deal of it and give the awards for a scene where they need to s*** another man or a woman. It’s really not that difficult.
“I’d rather the awards go to the acting, rather than it goes for the sexuality aspect of it because it’s not that hard to be a gay man or a gay woman.”
John has an issue with awards being given to actors just for playing a character of a different sexuality[/caption]
Since John finished third in the jungle behind Harry and Inbetweeners star and new BFF Emily Atack, he’s enjoyed a career renaissance in the UK.
He’s keen to stress that was the reason why he signed up for the show having turned down the opportunity multiple times and having ample work lined up in the States, but can’t hide his pleasure that his UK fans are now seeing more of him.
He’s presented This Morning with Emily and has a Fabulous UK tour which kicks off in July, with other big projects planned.
The Glasgow-born star hinted more work collaborations with his jungle campmate could be on the horizon too, although Emily’s love life is the current topic of conversation between the pair.
The theatre veteran has been busy presenting This Morning and has a Fabulous UK tour kicking off in July[/caption]
John, who has been in a relationship with his husband Scott Gill for 26 years, said: “Two or three days ago I text her, as I’ve known about the new boyfriend for a while, and as soon as I made it public I thought that was kind of cool. As friends do we discuss things that are not always out in the open.”
And does he give film producer Rob Jowers, who Emily took to the TV Baftas last Sunday, the thumbs up?
“Have you seen him?” he hits back. “Of course I gave him the thumbs up. I’d give him more than the thumbs up, I’ll tell you. And she knows that.”
“I haven’t met him yes but I’m coming over in a couple of weeks and that’s when I’ll get my proper introduction to him and finally talk to him and meet him. I’m really looking forward to that.”
John admits he is desperate to return to his Torchwood character, Captain Jack[/caption]
John maybe swamped with TV and theatre work and tour, but there’s one project he is desperate to return to.
Torchwood, the Doctor Who spin-off which ran for four series, hasn’t been on screens since 2011 but he’s been actively keeping the Captain Jack’s legacy alive by writing graphic novels for Tighten Comics alongside side his sister and doing audio books, including the Captain Jack Chronicles or the Captain Jack stories.
He says it would be a “mistake” if the BBC don’t bring it back.
John added: “I go to so many meetings in the US with some big networks and I’m always asked ‘how do we get hold of the rights to do something with Torchwood?
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“People are interested in it but for some reason, but it’s being kept held down by the Beeb.
“I don’t have an answer as to why but I keep telling fans wherever I go, to the sci-fi conventions I go to every weekend all over the world where I talk to rooms filled with 3,000-5,000 people, so I know the fanbase and know people desperate for it come back which I why I keep it alive as much as possible.
“But whether it does, or doesn’t, that’s another story. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep trying.”
- TUI enlisted John Barrowman to bring the ‘Holiday Feeling’ to life, showing holidaymakers exactly what the holiday feeling is during a stay at the TUI SENSATORI Resort Punta Cana. To find out more and watch the “fab-u-lous” film, visit : www.tui.co.uk/theholidayfeeling
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