Neil Patrick Harris is laying it bare in his new memoir, Choose Your Own Autobiography—opening up about his personal struggle in coming to terms with being gay, his drug use, and how meeting now-husband, David Burtka, changed his life forever.
The 41-year-old says he first became aware of being attracted to males at the age of 13, and that after developing a crush on a school friend, he opened up to his mother Sheila, telling her, “Mom, I'm afraid I'm gay.”
Thankfully, unlike the experience of so many other teens struggling to work out their sexual identity, his mother was fully supportive and accepting, telling her young son, it may just be a phase, but if it isn’t, it won’t make any difference to how much she, and his father, love him.
Sadly however, it took a long time for the actor himself to learn to accept his sexuality, and, after years of labeling himself as bi-sexual, finally come to terms with being gay. Harris says he kind of knew he was, but that’s far away from accepting he was, and far away from, ultimately, coming out to himself, and to the world.
He shares a cringe-worthy anecdote about kissing Burt Reynolds during an appearance on the acting legend’s 1989 show, B.L.Stryker:
As a joke at the end of one take, Burt leans over and kisses you square on the mouth. The crew thinks this is very funny, but it makes you uncomfortable. Uncomfortable and, it will ultimately turn out, gay. Burt Reynolds' kiss makes you gay.
He also talks about his brief dabble with psychedelic drugs, admitting he is “one of the few people to find the drug neither transcendent nor horrific, just kinda weird.’”
Harris shares that his first same sex liaison was with a fellow actor when he was appearing in the Broadway production of Rent, back in 1997, calling their affair, “a tentative first step towards a new life.”
It was baby steps though, as Harris admits he then embarked on a number of clandestine hook-ups, and hours flirting with anonymous men in on-line chat rooms, all while hiding his true identity, baseball cap pulled down low on his head.
A subsequent hashish-smoking-filled trip to Germany during the Love Parade and a steamy, sexy make-out with a guy called Christophe in a gay club, helped Harris take an ever bigger step towards self-acceptance, and he writes of his eventual epiphany:
After a long internal journey, you now embrace being gay, recognizing it as a wonderful and integrally important component part of the totality that is you. You are full out…to yourself.
But, it was his meeting with Burtka—with whom he shares twins, Gideon and Harper, who were conceived via a surrogate—and married in Italy last month after ten years of dating, that really transformed his life, and completed his journey—he writes:
It's natural. it's familiar. it's as cozy as an old shoe. You've met the right man, and luckily you've done so at the right time.
You've come a long way from the anonymous skulker trolling the AOL chat rooms...You are gay. You know that you are; you like that you are; you’re proud that you are. You are totally gay. And now you are totally gay and totally in love, and it’s wonderful.
Harris finally came out publicly as gay in 2006, telling People magazine, “I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love.”
He talks about the moment in his autobiography:
The most gratifying reaction was the deafening silence of hundreds of millions of Americans thinking to themselves, who gives a shit?
Amen to that!
Chose Your Own Autobiography is out today, you can buy a copy at all good bookstores, or via Amazon