Coming to terms with his sexuality led actor Wentworth Miller down a very dark path. The Prison Break star revealed that he tried to kill himself when he was 15 after wilting under the pressure of being secretly gay.
Miller spoke at the Human Rights Campaign Gala in Seattle on Saturday, which is where Wentworth talked about his struggles. He said of his days growing up as a closeted teen, “Growing up I was a target. Speaking the right way, standing the right way, holding your wrist the right way.”
“Every day was a test and there was a thousand ways to fail. A thousand ways to portray yourself to not live up to someone else’s standards of what was accepted and what was normal. And when you fail the test, which was guaranteed, there was a price to pay. Emotional, psychological. physical.”
“And like many of you I paid that price,” the 41-year-old star continued in his speech. “The first time I tried to kill myself I was 15. I waited until my family went away for the weekend and I was alone in the house and I swallowed a bottle of pills.”
“I don’t remember what happened over the next couple days, but I’m pretty sure come Monday morning I was on a bus back to school pretending everything was fine. And when someone asked me if that was a cry for help, I say no, because I told no one.”
“When someone asks me if that was a cry for help, I say no. Because I’ve told no one. You only cry for help if you believe there is help to cry for. And I didn’t need it, I wanted out… at 15.”
His inner battle continued as he worked as an actor in Hollywood. “I had multiple opportunities to speak my truth, which is that I was gay, but I chose not to. I was out privately to family and friends — publicly, I was not,” he confessed. “I chose to lie — when I thought about the possibility of coming out, how that might impact me and the career I worked so hard for, I was filled with fear.”
“When I thought about kids out there who might be moved or inspired by me taking a stand or speaking my truth, my mental response was consistently, no thank you,” he went on. But the “nagging voice” over the “persecution of my brothers and sisters in Russia” inspire him to finally come out. “I thought let me be to someone else, what no one was to me,” he said.
Fear is a good thing, but sometimes you just need to embrace the fear and go for it. Congratulations to Wentworth Miller on finally doing so.
Watch video of his speech at the Human Rights Campaign Gala in Seattle.