Daniel Franzese Comes Out as Gay in Heartfelt Letter
'Mean Girls' fever has been running rampant, with its 10-year anniversary quickly approaching this month. Everyone from Lindsay Lohan to Amanda Seyfriend to Jonathan Bennett have discussed the idea of a possible reunion, but Daniel Franzese has now revealed the most significant news of all: He is gay, and he has come out via a touching letter to his gay 'Mean Girls' character, Damian.
"Dear Damian," Franzese writes (via IndieWire). "It’s been a long time since our last encounter. Ten years to be exact. I was twenty-six; you were sixteen. You were proud of who you were; I was an insecure actor. You became an iconic character that people looked up to; I wished I’d had you as a role model when I was younger. I might've been easier to be gay growing up."
"You WERE beautiful in every single way and words couldn’t bring you down," he continues, referencing the iconic scene where Damian belts out the Christina Aguilera tune at the winter talent show as his cruel fellow high school students throw things at him.
Despite playing an openly gay character, Franzese was hiding his true identity in real life because he was already being typecast as gay, and he wanted the freedom to play straight characters as well.
"Damian, you had ruined my life and I was really pissed at you," Franzese writes about the aftermath of being known as his gay character from 'Mean Girls.' "I became celibate for a year and a half. I didn’t go to any gay bars, have any flings and I lied to anyone who asked if I was gay. I even brought a girl to the ‘Mean Girls’ premiere and kissed her on the red carpet, making her my unwitting beard."
But Franzese eventually made peace with his iconic character, relaying emotional stories of fans telling him how much the character meant to them.
"…Grown men started to coming up to me on the street -- some of them in tears -- and [thanked] me for being a role model to them. Telling me I gave them comfort not only being young and gay but also being a big dude," Franzese reveals. "It was then that I realized how much of an impact YOU had made on them."
But still, it wasn't until 10 years after the movie has Franzese finally made that inner peace with himself.
"I had the perfect opportunity in 2004 to let people know the REAL Daniel Franzese," he says. "Now in 2014 -- ten years later -- looking back, it took YOU to teach me how to be proud of myself again. … So, I’m not afraid anymore. Of Hollywood, the closet or mean girls. Thank you for that, Damian. (And Tina [Fey.])"
As he signs off with one of his most famous 'Mean Girls' lines -- "You go Glen Coco" -- Franzese is also quick to point out that he can't stand it when people tell him he is "too gay to function."
"I know you do, too," he writes. "Those people are part of the problem. They should refrain from using that phrase. It really is ONLY okay when Janis says it," he concludes.