Actor Darryl Stephens speaks on his struggles with being black and gay in Hollywood

Actor Darryl Stephens speaks on his struggles with being black and gay in Hollywood

During the years that he starred as a gay man on the TV series, Noah’s Arc, Darryl Stephens was quiet about the fact that he was also gay in real life.

It was part of an agreement with the powers that be to not discuss his sexuality with the media.

‘When we made Noah’s Arc, every interviewer was asking: “Are the actors gay or straight?” Now, with Jack Falahee on How to Get Away with Murder, we know straight and gay actors can play straight or gay characters. It’s less an issue for the press,’ Stephens tells Salon.

‘The culture is changing a lot, and you are seeing 12-13 year-olds coming out. There is no way I could have come out when I was that age.’

Stephens shares his journey as an out black actor in his new memoir Required Reading: How to Get Your Life For Good.

‘There were a lot of lessons about what people expected of us as black gay men, and I learned to have a thick skin about how black gay men are representing themselves. Everyone has an idea of what we should look like,’ he says.

His character on Noah’s Arc was somewhat effeminate but he’s also played more butch gay men in the films Boy Culture and Another Gay Movie as well as the TV series DTLA. But because Noah is his most well-known role, Stephens says: ‘I get called in more often for sassy black queen roles. It’s learning to adapt. But I’m more a character than one type.’

Stephens has the lead role in the currently filming From Zero to I Love You, written and directed by his Noah’s Arc co-star Doug Spearman. In the film, he plays a gay man with a history of getting involved with married men.

‘I love seeing all of the different types, and not prioritizing one over the other. Sissies can be powerful,’ he says.

‘The term “thug” has been co-opted by conservatives as term for a black male – but there is a clear admiration for hyper-masculine depictions of black gay men. Being black and gay in America both come with heavy doses of self-loathing. I think it’s extremely important for people who are taught explicitly or implicitly to think less of themselves, to have an alternate perspective. I wanted to be the best, most realized version of myself.

‘I have had some self-loathing come up. You have to be honest in processing those moments. One of the gifts of being a gay man is to express our emotions, and that vulnerability of being raised that we are “less than,” and having to experience that, and work through that, and do it together, is important.’

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17 Comments

  1. ken
    August 29, 06:46 Reply

    *laughing in kiswahili*
    Like his sexuality was ever in doubt. If u watch noah’s arc (which is btw the cheesiest gay series I have ever seen), there’s no doubt most of the characters are gay in real life.
    Theres just some things straight people cant fake as much as a gay guy!

    • Pink Panther
      August 29, 06:50 Reply

      True!!!! I agree with you on it being cheesy and I agree with you on there being no doubt as to the sexuality of most of the actors in it. lol

    • Pink Panther
      August 29, 07:39 Reply

      LOL. Aint no shaking away from that kind of stereotypical casting in Hollywood.

  2. Mandy
    August 29, 07:42 Reply

    I’ve seen Boy Culture and Another Gay Movie, and abeg, his characters weren’t so butch. Honey, it’s like Colossus said, in the eyes of Hollywood, you’re the black gay queen.

  3. Dennis Macaulay
    August 29, 08:03 Reply

    This is what gay actors are afraid of! Being type cast!

    Me sha been like this boy ooo! In Noah’s arc he was doing my body one kain

    • #Chestnut
      August 29, 13:14 Reply

      Zachary Quinto is a lucky man in that regard…or maybe hollywood won’t mind casting a gay man in a straight role,if he’s “straight-acting” enought. I’ve never seen Noah’s arc,so I don’t know if this dude’s natural mannerisms lend themselves to stereo-typical casting as d “sassy gay guy”, but I think there are a host of other known gay actors in hollywood,who can be convincing, playing any end of the sexuality spectrum.

  4. Keredim
    August 29, 09:27 Reply

    To prove a point, he should have taken the straight acting married man role, in the new film

    Thank God he got rid of that hair!!!???

  5. Mitch
    August 29, 09:57 Reply

    Cherekwa! Is this queen screaming against stereotyping abi na typecasting? Abegi, gaan sleep! You better get comfortable in your skin cos its the only one you’ve got.

  6. Posh6666
    August 29, 10:49 Reply

    Oh noah!i actually liked him in noah’s arc tho most of my frnds dont like him for various reasons his too cute,too vain n self conscious,his body shape is awkward etc.Tho i will steal that his boo in d blink of an eye.He actually topped d guy in one scene cant remember if it was in d complete movie jumping the broom or the series.Pinkie pls which one is dtla?

    • Keredim
      August 29, 11:01 Reply

      Chei Posh….use Google now, na wetin?????

  7. posh6666
    August 29, 11:12 Reply

    He also appeared in a scene in one black comedy series cant recall the name.The wife was a pschychologist,the husband a stay home lecturer and 3kids.He also tried to be butch in d series omG it was painful to watch i was just like swerry u were born a queen let it go…..

    • #Chestnut
      August 29, 13:16 Reply

      LMAO@ “sweery u were born a queen…” You’re too wrong for this,Posh! Hahaha.

  8. Khaleesi
    August 29, 13:36 Reply

    Awwwnn this gorgeous queen … gurl own it with pride, you are the queen! Ain’t no escaping who you really are – embrace you and love yourself as you are!

  9. KingBey
    August 30, 07:21 Reply

    King of my world ! Hehehehehe. Noah baby, you’re the queen.

  10. Givantae
    April 26, 12:59 Reply

    I kind of like the movie though.
    The movie paved way for Lots of gay guys who still lives in the closet to be self aware, open and free. For me, the movie is very entertaining, educational and informative.
    And kudos to darry Stephens for gaining the courage plus the confidence to do such movie with such role.

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