Actor Haaz Sleiman opened up about his sexuality in an emotional video this week as part of a personal effort to combat violence against the LGBTQ community.
The 41-year-old “Nurse Jackie” star announced that he was “a gay, Muslim, Arab American man” in the clip, which can be viewed below. But Sleiman, who was born and raised in Lebanon, didn’t stop there. “Not only am I gay, but I’m also a bottom,” he added in the video, which was posted to his social media accounts Aug. 22. “Not only am I a bottom, but I’m also a total bottom, which means I like it up you know where.”
Sleiman said he felt compelled to address his sexuality in response to a National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs report released earlier this month that revealed a surge in hate-related homicides of LGBTQ people. He ended the video with a stern warning to perpetrators of anti-queer violence.
“If you ever come to me, to kill me just because I’m gay, I will destroy you,” he said in the clip. “I might be gay and I might be a nice guy, but don’t get it twisted, because I will fuck you up.”
The actor, who is also known for roles in “The State” and “Of Kings and Prophets,” appeared to drop hints about the forthcoming announcement on his Twitter and Instagram accounts in the days leading up to the video’s release.
On Friday, Sleiman posted a screenshot to Facebook and Instagram of a 2009 Advocate interview in which he said he was straight and had a girlfriend in New York. Though his “Nurse Jackie” character, Mohammed “Mo-Mo” De La Cruz, was gay, the actor said being asked about his own sexuality caught him off-guard.
“I was so shocked. I froze. My body started shaking. And then I lied and said I was straight,” he wrote. “Shame on gay people who are not kind to other gay people.”
Journalist Brandon Voss, who conducted the interview, wrote Saturday that he “would have honored” Sleiman’s wish to avoid personal questions, but hadn’t been informed by the actor’s team of his request beforehand.
“My goal, however, was not to be unkind or shocking,” Voss wrote in a NewNowNext piece. “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.”
Noting that he’d since apologized to the actor, Voss added, “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.”
Despite those early struggles, it’s great to see Sleiman living his authentic life today.
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