‘Mean Girls’ Actor Daniel Franzese Comes Out

In a letter tied to the 10-year anniversary of Mean Girls, Daniel Franzese, who played Damian, opens up about his sexuality. The letter, which was posted to IndieWire’s gay blog /bent, Franzese writes to the character he played a decade ago: “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[t] might’ve been easier to be gay growing up.”

Mean Girls wasn’t really expected to be the hit it became and certainly no one expected it to become iconic in the way that it has in the 10 years since its release. Part of that is the character of Damian, who Franzese describes as “a natural and true representation of a gay teenager – a character we laughed with instead of at.” Damian remains one of the true great, nonjudgmental gay characters in screen history.

“So, why the hell did it take me so long to come out of the closet?” Franzese asks himself.

Franzese goes on to describe a “gay glass ceiling” he met in castings following Mean Girls.

One time I wanted to audition for a supporting character in a low-budget indie movie described as a “doughy, blue-collar lug of a guy.” The role was to play the husband of an actress friend of mine who I had been in two movies and an Off-Broadway play with. She and I had even moved to L.A. together.

I figured I was perfect for it.

They said they were looking for a real “man’s man.” The casting director wouldn’t even let me audition. This wasn’t the last time this happened. There were industry people who had seen me play you in Mean Girls but never seen me read in an audition but still denied me to be seen for “masculine” roles.

Franzese says that he grew to resent Damian. However, in recent years he’s come to appreciate Damian’s legacy and what the character means to others.

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. Telling me I gave them comfort not only being young and gay but also being a big dude. It was then that I realized how much of an impact YOU had made on them.

In a Dish Nation interview, airing tonight, Franzese cites the 10-year anniversary as his motivation for coming out now. Back in the letter, Franzese writes that it is Damian who taught him to be proud of himself again.