Haaz Sleiman, a Lebanese-American actor best known for his role as gay nurse Mohammed "Mo-Mo" De La Cruz on the first season of Showtime's Nurse Jackie, opened up about his sexuality earlier this week on social media.
“I am a gay, Muslim, Arab-American man," he says in a new video, responding to a recent study finding that more LGBT Americans were murdered so far this year than in all of 2016.
"And I’m going to take it even further: Not only am I gay, but I’m also a bottom. Not only am I a bottom, but I’m also a total bottom which means I like it up you know where."
“And I say this to all the homophobes living in the United States of America and across the globe," Sleiman, 41, continues. "If you ever come to me, to kill me just because I’m gay, I will destroy you. I might be gay and I might be a nice guy, but don’t get it twisted because I will fuck you up.”
Addressing the fact that he identified as straight and spoke about having a girlfriend in a 2009 interview with The Advocate, Sleiman later explained on social media that he only spoke to the LGBT publication after telling a Showtime representative that he would not answer personal questions.
"At the end of the half hour interview over the phone the idiot interviewer, whom I think was gay, asked me if was gay or straight," he writes. "I was so shocked. I froze. My body started shaking. And then I lied and said I was straight. Shame on gay people who are not kind to other gay people. He did that on purpose."
Here is the Advocate exchange:
We know that Mo-Mo has a boyfriend named Ricky. Will the audience meet him soon?
You're not going to meet him in the first season, and I haven't met him yet either. You will see Mo-Mo kiss another guy, though, and it's someone that you won't expect. It's funny.
Ever since you were cast as Mo-Mo, there have been discussions in the blogosphere about your own sexuality. Have you found that people now seem more interested in whether or not you're gay in real life?
I don't really read blogs, so I don't know what's being said. That's never come up, but it's not something that would bother me if it did. It's all about doing good work, and the stuff that comes with it afterward, it is all fun.
But for the sake of satisfying curiosity once and for all, you're straight, right?
Do you have a girlfriend?
Yes, she lives in New York. She's very supportive and can't wait to see that kiss that I told you about.
Full disclosure: I am the writer who conducted this 2009 interview. I was not informed beforehand that Sleiman wished to avoid any personal questions, a request I would have honored. As I told Sleiman earlier today in a private Facebook message, I regret the unfortunate miscommunication.
My goal, however, was not to be unkind or shocking. When writing for LGBT publications, I respectfully interview LGBT people, straight people, and those who choose not to identify publicly. But because these celebrities are speaking to LGBT press, I do offer them an opportunity to identify if they so choose, with the end goal of celebrating and normalizing all sexual identities.
Had Sleiman replied with "I prefer to keep my private life private" or "It's more fun to keep people guessing," I would not have pressed the issue. Had he or his representatives later reached out to request that I edit out the offending exchange, I would have done so without question.
As I wrote Sleiman privately, I hope that he will accept my apology for my part in making him feel uncomfortable and unsafe in the situation.
Prior to posting his candid video, Sleiman seems to have been giving fans strong clues about his sexuality in recent weeks with various LGBT-related social media posts.
Sleiman, who appeared in the LGBT-themed films The Ski Trip and Those People, earned much acclaim for his role as an immigrant squatter in The Visitor. He also played Jesus in the miniseries Killing Jesus.