Out gay actor Chad Allen (TV's "Dr. Quinn")
by Jeremy Tipton
Wednesday, April 02, 2003
Former teen idol and current actor Chad Allen took some time to speak with Out in America concerning his past, present and future while walking the streets of New York City.
Chad will always be best known for his television credits with such successful shows such as Our House, My Two Dads, and Dr. Quinn: Medicine Women . Now however, heís getting noticed more for his roles on the stage and with independent films. And heís not only an actor; but has tacked the roles of student, teacher, advocate, producer, son, and friend. He is just one of a select few of openly gay actors in the film industry, but his story is similar to so many learning to deal with their sexuality.
So what have you been doing for the last year or two?
Chad: Well, after DQ, Doctor Quinn, shut down I sort of retreated back to my old world of theater production, which I run a theater company called Creative Outlet and I have been producing shows for the last couple of years, most notably the Los Angeles premiere production of Corpus Christi, Terrance McNally's play. Then I brought a show to Seattle called Temporary
Help, working on some independent features, most notably of those is a new film called Downtown where I played a junkie street hooker. I think it has been picked up for distribution and the movie looks good.
So do you prefer film or onstage?
By far I prefer to work on the stage, I always have. Um, itís my first love and itís a fantastic medium.
Well a lot has changed within the gay media, we have shows such as Queer as Folk and Will & Grace. What is your opinion of shows like that are representing our culture?
I am not so sure it is fair to say that any television show represents our culture. I know that there has been a large debate on whether or not Queer as Folk accurately represents anything, I do believe it represents a segment of the population and we do have shows that represent peopleís stories and it represents a group of friendís stories. I get nervous when people start claiming that any show is a representation of our community, certainly my experience with society and the gay community itself of who we are is in fact as varied as the world itself. So itís hard for us to accept a show or expect a show to be a representative of the whole. Is just about being accepted for who we are, just another part of a varied culture of the world. Its all good stuff; we can tell our stories along with the rest of the stories that are out there to be told, that will make me happy.
Well a lot of people, like myself, came out pretty late in life: I came out the age of 25. What type of advice do you give people who see you as a role model or look at you as an openly active gay male in society?
UmÖ You know thatís a pretty big question and I think its certainly up to the individual. My best advice I would say certainly as I get older it seems more and more true, is to just slow down, you donít need to become anything other than what you are and I think that idea gets lost because when you come into this game in sort of adolescence and young adulthood, we try to make ourselves into something else, and coming out becomes about getting yourself used to something else, becoming what you think a gay man is or a gay woman is, and in fact thatís not it at all. Slow down, learn to love yourself a lot and be exactly who you are you know today, the sort of challenge for me has been can I be absolutely positive to Chad today, whatever that is, certainly there is an aspect to being Chad that has to do with being gay. There is an aspect to Chad that has to do with being an actor, being a producer, being a son and a brother and all of those things encompass parts of the whole, but neither of them alone make up the whole.
What aspect of Chad that people donít see every day, I mean that people who donít really know you, what aspect are we missing?
Um, instinctually when I hear that question I would say you are missing it for a reason, which means those parts, are for me alone. Um, in other words, there are parts of my life that I have no intentions of sharing with the public because theyíre not public. If we get to hang out youíll probably get to see that, but removing myself from that a little bit and sort of trying to look at myself from the place that youíre coming from, um, I would imagine that you might be surprised. [laughs] You might be surprised to find out how wildly massive and varied my life can be and how absolutely geeky I can be. [laughs] I am such of a nerd most of the time, but there you go.
Are you a big clubber?
No, not now. I mean there was a time when I really loved going out, and that clubby energy at big dance places and stuff like that, now I get bored really quickly with it all to be perfectly honest. I still like to dance and go out sometimes but it is usually more about being with friends than it is about being part of that energy necessarily. So, I get bored quickly. I feel stimulated more, by more, on an individual basis than when I am clubbing. I walked into a bar/club last
night with a friend of mine here in New York . I was in there for 4 Ĺ minutes and I said I have to get out of here, I canít do the crowds and the whole thing anymore, you know whatever.
So do you think the clubs are different now than there were when you first came out?
No, I imagine that theyíre just the same and the musicís changed, I mean maybe they are not but thatís the way it seems. Everyoneís younger. I know that, when I came out I was young, I was with my friends and we had a house and we lived together on the West Side of Hollywood. We were like 18 years old and we were, you know 18 year-old kids out and about in West Hollywood, hanging out and we were it. We didnít have kids in high school going to big gay prom, you didnít have kids who were 16 years old, you know, speaking up and you know stand up for civil rights, or even hanging out with gay friends or communicating over the internet, none of that was there, so yeah there has been a lot of change, it fascinates me sometimes, because it has happened quick.
So what about you personally, are you seeing anyone?
Well you hit the word there. Personally, you know whatever is going on in my personal life stays there, so life is good. I am a very very happy boy. I have a fantastic relationship in my life, relationships in my life across the board.
Good for you. So what do you plan on doing next? You are just going to be working on your films and plays there in New York?
Yeah, I am in school too. I am getting a degree in psychology and human behavior. And I am teaching a class in Oceanography. Itís just an example of what I meant by varied life, there is so much going on, and it itís all wonderful lessons, but work has really picked up again and there are some movies potentially, but I really want to do the thing in New York and I want to live in New York for a while, so I am going to put school back on hold for a second or two, and pick up some work, you know it makes me so happy, I wish I had four lives right now that I could commit to everything a 1000 percent, but I appreciate the time to move on.
Do you have any advice for people that want to get involved in acting? You must get asked that question all the time because you started pretty young?
Yeah, my advice to people who really really want to act is to dive into local theater and regional theater and get to know the experience of acting. Itís nothing like the experience of being a celebrity, if you want to act go learn how to act. It takes years to learn, you may not like it, but I donít know what itís like to be a celebrity.
Here is a serious question, a lot of people in the media have made a big issue on Rosie OíDonnell coming out so late and how there are so many people in the closet. I mean you came out kinda of when you were 18, when you were
outed, but didnít officially came out until later when you spoke to the Advocate. Do you think more people should come out and whatís your opinion of the whole coming out process?
I think in no way is it possible or appropriate for anybody to be told about coming out and their experience. That issue is so personal to the individual. Things like ďpeople should come outĒ or ďRosie should have come out soonerĒ or I have should have come out sooner is so fucking ludicrous and so insensitive and ignorant. I am grateful for those who have came out, it has made things easier for me; it is why I made the decision despite the fear that may overshadow what I love to do. There is a real fear. If I was forced to come out when I was twenty years old in a public way it would had been disastrous because I was not ready. The best advice I was ever given was talk about it when there is good news, and not before.
Great advice, so are you going to be attending the Pride festivities in New York?
Have you been to many of the gay pride celebrations around the country?
Not really, just LA. I donít think I have been to any others before. You know what, fuck it, itís great. I love it. Everyone gets so uptight about people marching down the street with their asses hanging out, drag queens and stuff. I mean who cares, these people have been doing this before we could even talk about being openly gay and stuff. These people have pushed the community so fucking far forward, excuse my language that the who cares about the shock. I donít give a ratís ass about what they do or not. I donít care. There is enough room for everyone in this boat; none of us have to be like anyone else. And if you want to march down the street, do it and if you donít then donít do it. I go there now and see people having fun and being themselves and I love it. And all I have to do it go down there and be exactly who I am and I am grateful.
Well people might want to know more about you or upcoming productions, any place where they can go to learn more about you?
You know there is a pretty reliable websiteÖ ummmmÖ I forget what it is, but itís pretty reliable and the guy who runs it is a committed fan and keeps it going.
I think its www.chadallenonline.com
Yeah, something like that. [laughs] Other than that... [laughs] I am doing my thing. There is some really interesting stuff coming up and when there is more to talk about we will talk.