Mean Girls star Daniel Franzese has come out as gay.
The 35-year-old actor, who played gay character Damian in the hit 2004 film, wrote an open letter to his "Mean Girls" alter ego that was posted on Indiewire earlier today.
"Dear Damian: It's been a long time since our last encounter. Ten years to be exact," Franzese writes. "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."
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He goes on, "What you may not know...When I was cast in the role of Damian in Mean Girls, I was TERRIFIED to play this part. But this was a natural and true representation of a gay teenager--a character we laughed with instead of at. (You can thank Tina Fey and Mark Waters for that. I can only take partial credit.).
"When we first made this movie, I'm not sure any of us knew how loved and quoted this movie would become. You certainly hope when you pour your heart into something, that people will respond--but to paraphrase Gretchen Wieners, 'We can't help it that we're so popular.'"
Franzese says that after he portrayed the flamboyant character of Damian, he hit a "gay glass ceiling" in casting and was repeatedly turned down by Hollywood casting directors who were looking for masculine actors. He also turned down roles of "feather-boa-slinging stereotypes that always seemed to be laughed at BECAUSE they were gay."
"It wasn't until years later that grown men started to coming up to me on the street--some of them in tears--and thanking me for being a role model to them," Franzese writes. "I had the perfect opportunity in 2004 to let people know the REAL Daniel Franzese. Now in 2014--ten years later--looking back, it took YOU to teach me how to be proud of myself again. It's okay if no one wants to sit at the table with the 'art freaks.' Being a queer artist is one of my favorite things about myself. I have always been different and that's rad. People have always asked if I was really gay? While my reps usually lied to protect me. My friends and family all knew the truth but now it's time everyone does. Perhaps this will help someone else. I had to remind myself that my parents named me Daniel because it means 'God is my judge.' So, I'm not afraid anymore. Of Hollywood, the closet or mean girls. Thank you for that, Damian. (And Tina.).
Fransese signed the moving letter with his name, adding, "P.S. I hate it when people say I'm 'too gay to function.' I know you do, too. Those people are part of the problem. They should refrain from using that phrase. It really is ONLY okay when Janis says it."