It's not the gay Sex and the City or the gay Girls or the only gay show on TV, so it has to be all these things. By the end of the second season, though, the dust was settling, and we were kind of getting into our creative groove, and we were starting to find our particular audience that was invested in the show for what it was.
The show, ultimately, is about male intimacy—in relationships and in friendships. I think it's rare on TV that you see men relating to each other, romantically or not, in an open-hearted, vulnerable way. Are there any examples on other existing shows of that kind of intimacy? I'm late to the party, I literally just started watching Orange Is the New Black , but it's like that, only with with male intimacy. One of my favorite things about the show and the movie is the way these gorgeous extended party scenes are shot—there are a couple of club scenes in the movie.
Have you changed the way you relate to those spaces after Orlando? It made it much harder to watch the movie. Oh my God, I know. We screened the movie at the Castro, the last day of Pride, in San Francisco, the week after Orlando. And those scenes where everyone's just partying—we were like, whoa.
They feel more weighted, and important, and ecstatic, considering everything. There's sort of a heart-swell and loving energy that comes out of those scenes, I think. Andrew would always talk about finding himself in clubs when he was younger. He would go out, and he would go dancing. That's the way he expressed himself, that's how he found himself.
That's how he met his now-husband Michael Lannon, the creator—the first guy he ever kissed was on the dance floor at The Stud, where we shot a lot of our dance scenes in San Francisco. There's just a lot of good personal memories for our creators of going crazy and dancing, and I think they felt really committed to getting those into the show. The episode where I'm wearing that leather vest during the Folsom Street Fair, we're literally dancing in the spot that Michael had his first kiss ever with a man. And they were always the most fun scenes to shoot.
Usually on a film set there's no music, because they can't get the sound of people talking, and so you're talking really loud even though there's no music, which is really awkward. But they gave us these little earwigs so we could hear the music and dance and stuff. All of the music in the scenes? Everyone's yelling over The Pointer Sisters? Yes, exactly.
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I'd never publicly danced in a club, even. That day was transformational.
You talked a bit about experiences other people brought to those scenes. Have you had any similar experiences? We would go dancing a lot while we were filming. There are stories I'm debating whether or not I should reveal, but we would party with each other in San Francisco. But to be honest, when I moved to New York, I was still in the closet. When I was doing Spring Awakening the first couple of years I was living in New York, I was gay, and I was living with my "roommate," who was my boyfriend, but was my roommate to everyone else.
So my gay self-expression happened within the four walls of my apartment, and I was never brave enough to step out and dance with a group of people at a club and just be myself. I was scared that if I went to a club, then everybody would know that I was gay. I've since gotten over that, but in those early years I never got that, which sounds so depressing.
But I guess I'm living it now vicariously through my character on Looking. Did you have an early experience after you came out that served a similar purpose, even if it wasn't at a club? I was grand marshal of the New York City gay pride parade two years ago. That doesn't sound public at all. I know, right? Coming out for me was slightly painful. It was a relief, but it was also painful.
I remember telling my mom, Mom, I'm gay, but I'm not going to march in a parade or anything. That's what I was telling my parents and all my friends and everything. I'm gay, but I'm not going to be on a float or something.
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Cut to five years later and I was the grand marshal of the gay pride parade. Truth be told, when they asked me to do it, I hesitated before I said yes. I was like, "Uh, sure, okay. Honestly, it was one of the most incredible days I've ever had. I'd never been to a pride event before, I'd never publicly danced in a club even, or done anything in a public way.
I used to keep a journal years ago, and I didn't have a journal so I came home after the parade and typed on a computer about what I was feeling, because there was something so revelatory about being out and being and proud of who you are and being in a parade and being surrounded by other people who are proud of who they are.
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It was an epic, sort of life-changing day. When we premiered the movie at the Castro, we got to sort of be on the tail end of gay pride there. I wore my rainbow T-shirt, and—we were in the Castro on Pride—and with everything that had just happened in Orlando, it felt a hundred times more important to be out and fearless and expressive.
But the cast has happily reunited for the wrap-up movie, as evidenced by these Instagram shots posted to the official "Looking" account.
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The out actor also opened up about still being "deep in the closet" during his breakout role in Broadway's " Spring Awakening ," for which he received a Tony Award nomination. I was very compartmentalized.
After he left the show, Groff says he went to Italy on vacation and had an epiphany of sorts, and these days, it's a much different story. Now that I'm out, it's liberating to talk about it," he said.
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