Russell Tovey has been praised for playing well-rounded, confident gay men on “Looking” and “Quantico,” among other shows. But navigating his real-life sexuality growing up, he says, was a bit more challenging.
In a wide-ranging interview with Britain’s Sunday Times, the actor recalled how his parents, George and Carole, struggled to accept their son being gay early on.
“I don’t think either of my parents were homophobic, they just didn’t know any gay people or anyone with gay kids,” said Tovey, who came out at 18. “They had nothing to cling to.”
“My dad thought it could be cured,” he added. “He was scared about what my life would be like. To him, being gay was a road of pitfalls and unhappiness; out of love he wanted to correct this weakness, to put cotton wool around me and protect me from all that.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Carole Tovey admitted her husband took “about three years to come to terms” with their son’s sexuality, and even considered reparative therapy.
“I think it was to do with pride, his idea of what makes you a man,” she said. “He thought we’d somehow made Russell gay. He said: ‘We’ll get him hormone treatment.’ He found it hard to see that Russ was happy and we had to accept it.”
Fortunately, none of that ever came to pass. Though Tovey hasn’t always been the most eloquent on LGBTQ issues, he’s nonetheless emerged as a queer icon, and his acting career continues to reach new heights on both stage and screen. In 2016, he appeared on Broadway in “A View From the Bridge,” and can currently be seen in HBO’s “Years and Years” and the Hulu thriller series “The Sister.”
And these days, Tovey said, he models his relationship with Steve Brockman, a fitness trainer and aspiring architect, on that of his parents. After a brief split, the two men reconciled in 2019 and frequently appear on each other’s Instagram accounts.
“I know Steve is my man and we’re in this amazing place now,” Tovey told The Sunday Times. “I want what my parents have. After 42 years they’re still best mates and they laugh all the time. That kind of love doesn’t come along every day.”
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