‘Looking’ actor says he's glad he’s not one of those 'effeminate' gays

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One of the stars of the HBO gay drama Looking has angered some in the gay community with comments that highlight prejudice within the LGBT community.

Russell Tovey is an actor who happens to be gay, stars in series about gay men, and has been a victim of a knife attack because he says he was wearing a cardigan in a town where men didn’t wear cardigans.


Now Tovey is being the bully. He’s essentially putting down other men who wear cardigans, or in his words “effeminate” men.

“I feel like I could have been really effeminate, if I hadn’t gone to the school I went to. Where I felt like I had to toughen up,” Tovey told the Guardian, in reference to his father not allowing him to go to a "theater school."

“If I’d have been able to relax, prance around, sing in the street, I might be a different person now. I thank my dad for that, for not allowing me to go down that path,” Tovey goes on to say.

It’s a classic case of the oppressed becoming the oppressor.

Looking fans acknowledge Tovey is entitled to his own opinions but say his comments are damaging.


Looking has been celebrated for showing the diversity and complexity of gay men. The weekly 30-minute series includes images of muscular gay rugby-playing men as well as not-so-muscular bearded men who prance around and sing in the street.


But in a single interview Tovey has dismantled the progress shows like Looking have made.

What’s sad is that Tovey gets it. He’s been the victim of bullying and understands the psychological and emotional trauma it can cause.


“If they’d asked for my wallet or phone I would have understood it. But it wasn’t anything to do with that. They just wanted to fucking hurt me,” Tovey told the Guardian. “For years afterwards I was left with an insecurity.”


Editor's note: This story has been updated to add more context to Tovey's quotes.

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