NOTE FROM JESS CAGLE, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, PEOPLE AND ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:
In the moving comedy-drama Love, Simon (in theaters March 16) Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel star as the parents of Simon, a high schooler played by Nick Robinson who struggles to tell loved ones that he’s gay. Acceptance in America has increased dramatically in recent years, but coming out as LGBTQ is still a profound and often traumatic experience.
PEOPLE and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, along with GLSEN, the non-profit that fights to make schools safe for all kids, invited individuals from all walks of life to share real-life coming out stories. COMING OUT STORIES (produced by Ryan Buxton) can be seen at people.com/comingoutstories and on PeopleTV (download the app on your favorite mobile or connected TV device).
Love, Simon actor Keiynan Lonsdale went to great lengths to hide his sexuality.
The Flash actor, 26, says that even though he went to a dance high school with a large population of gay students, he was afraid to come out to his fellow classmates.
“There were rumors going on around the dance world back home,” he says. “It was breaking my heart — I was going crazy. I was lying and lying and lying, doing everything I could to hold on to my secret.”
Lonsdale says he had to come to terms with his own sexuality before he felt comfortable enough to tell others.
“It felt like people were deciding for me,” he says.
But after having a heart-to-heart with one of his best friends, he eventually decided to address the rumors head-on while at a party.
“I said, I’m not straight. I don’t really label myself as anything. I have been in love with guys and I have been in love with girls,” he recalls. “That’s me.”