10/08/2012 11:47 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Matt Bomer Talks Growing Up Gay When Accepting GLSEN Award

Matt Bomer says he had to "cover his tracks" in order to survive high school as a gay teenager.

Honored with an "Inspiration Award" alongside partner Simon Halls at the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) Respect Awards, the "White Collar" hunk told the crowd, "When I was in high school, there was no safe haven, there was no outlet for you to speak your mind. So I did what any self-preserving 14-year-old would do—I signed up for the school play and also the football team to cover my tracks."

As E Online is reporting, the 34-year-old actor -- who was praised by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates for subtly acknowledging his sexuality in February -- went on to note, "When that happens, when you aren't allowed to speak about who you are, one of the most authentic parts of who you are, which is who you love or who you're attracted to, feels invisible. GLSEN gives visibility and authenticity to kids all across the country."

Pink News reports that Joe Manganiello presented his "Magic Mike" co-star with the award. “You are the example that the rest of our country needs to wake up and see in terms of equality and putting an end to the bullying epidemic and making sure that every family is respected in our schools and our society," Manganiello, who also reportedly attended college with Bomer, is quoted as saying.

Perez Hilton notes that Halls also chimed in, noting, "Having kids teaches you so many things, and one of the things we both have learned in our parenting journey is how loving and accepting and open children's minds and hearts are."

Not everyone has been so supportive of Bomer's career. In August, "American Psycho" scribe Bret Easton Ellis slammed the possible casting of Bomer as Christian Grey in the highly-anticipated movie version of "Fifty Shades of Grey" as "absolutely ludicrous" because the actor is openly gay.

"I am NOT discriminating against Matt Bomer," Ellis tweeted. "Fifty Shades of Grey demands an actor who is genuinely into women."



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