So Colton Haynes has come out as gay. Sort of.
An interview this week in Entertainment Weekly identifies the Arrow actor as gay—adding "[he] has never publicly addressed his sexuality." And Haynes expresses regrets about not being more forthcoming about his sexuality.
"I should have made a comment or a statement, but I just wasn’t ready."
But as much as we're glad Colton plays for our team (hey, a girl can dream!) it's what else he discusses that's of primary importance—his lifelong struggle with clinical anxiety.
Fans were baffled when Haynes left both Teen Wolf and Arrow, arguably at the peak of his popularity on each show, but as he explains, "I asked to step away because I cared more about my mental and physical health than my career at the time."
According to the American Psychiatric Association, anxiety disorders affect more than 25 million Americans. "I've had terminal anxiety my entire life. Physically ill—fainting," Haynes adds. "I'm 27 years old, and I have an ulcer."
But in January, when fans were busy debating whether a comment on a tumblr post was Haynes' way of coming out, he was checking himself into the hospital for anxiety—one of several trips over the next few months, according to EW.
He alluded to his struggle in an earlier tweet from December:
For those of you who are suffering with intense anxiety... you are not alone. It’s been a constant struggle for me since 5th grade. It’s a battle. Anxiety had put me in the hospital a countless amount of times. Whether it be fainting, hyperventilating, or seizures... I’ve been through it...
I’ve quit jobs because of anxiety, flaked on social events, family gatherings, birthdays, important movie/work tests. Its a serious problem. Be there for those who struggle with anxiety and realize it’s a serious disorder. It’s not a case of 'being dramatic.' It’s a lifelong struggle. Love those suffering.
Anxiety has caused me to be extremely agoraphobic and live in constant fear of leaving my house at times. You are not alone.
That was major. Even with mental health issues so prevalent in America, admitting to a struggle is frowned upon, especially among young people.
You know what? I'm wrong—Haynes' message is connected to his being a gay man.
Yes, the stress of "acting 24 hours a day" as Haynes puts it, can be devastating. But beyond that, there's a tendency among gay men to make six-pack abs and a chiseled jawline the highest priority. Any sign of struggle—or perhaps more to the point, unfabulousness—is strictly taboo.
So, sure, it's great that he's come out publicly, but it's more great that he's bringing awareness to mental illness—especially during Mental Health Month.
And it's also great that he has a good support system—friends, mentors, a loving (and out) brother—to help him through the tough times. Because a six-pack won't help you fight crippling anxiety.
"It took me so long to get to this point, but I’m doing so good,” he tells EW. "I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and healthier than I’ve ever been, and that’s what I care about."
And that's what we care about, too.
Below, former WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw discusses her own struggle with bipolar disorder in the Logo documentary Mind/Game.