‘Playboy Club’ actor comes out

Laura Donovan Contributor
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Controversial NBC show “Playboy Club” now has even more reason to generate buzz: One of its actors came out of the closet Monday.

Sean Maher, who plays a character of the same first name on the television drama, told Entertainment Weekly exclusively that he’s been keeping a big secret for the 14 years he has worked in Hollywood.

“I’ve never discussed it publicly,” Maher, who appeared in the 2002 program “Firefly,” said of his sexuality. “I’ve never been asked about it publicly, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t paint a different picture.”

The father of two adopted children resides with his partner of nearly nine years in southern California.

“It’s so liberating,” Maher told the publication. “It was interesting to be coming to have a conversation that I was always afraid to have … This is my coming out ball. I’ve been dying to do this.”

Maher comes forward about being gay at a time when highly publicized, popular TV shows like “Glee” feature, and often embrace, homosexuality, but even the 90s didn’t come with the same kind of representation. When Maher graduated from New York University in 1997 and relocated to the city of angels, he was advised to date women for his image. (RELATED: Former Playboy Bunny: ‘Playboy Club’ show inaccurate, ‘degrading, demoralizing’)

Preparing Maher for his role on “Ryan Caulfield: Year One,” publicists said a ladyfriend for the tabloids could help the series.

“They’re telling me, ‘You know, gosh, we’d really appreciate it if you could keep your girlfriend on the side because we want to appeal to the female demographic of the show,'” Maher said of the experience. “At that moment, I didn’t think to say, ‘Oh, I’m gay,’ because right before I left New York [where he went to college at NYU], I had my manager tell me: ‘You need to get a girl on your arm or people will start talking.’ I remember telling him: ‘I’m gay.’ He had no idea. And he said: ‘All the more reason to get a girl on your arm.’ My agent was also like, ‘It’s best if you keep your options open. Maybe bisexual?’”

To protect his career, Maher didn’t say a word about being gay.

“I have these beautiful children and this extraordinary family,” Mayer said. “What would [my child] think if I said, ‘Oh honey, you can’t come with me to work because they don’t know I have an adopted daughter and they don’t know that I’m gay.’ My children and our family, I’ve really never been as proud of anything in my life. I couldn’t be happier at this point in my life, and I feel like we’ve created this pretty extraordinary family.”

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Laura Donovan