Pretty Little LiarsStar Tyler Blackburn has come out as queer, saying he's "identified as bisexual" since he was a teenager.
In a profile on Blackburn by The Advocate, the 32-year-old actor spoke about playing a queer character in the upcoming sexy teen aliens reboot, Roswell, New Mexico. He also opened up about being bullied while growing up in Los Angeles, saying kids picked on him because he was an effeminate "late bloomer."
"I got bullied a lot by other boys, and I just felt like my soul was slowly being taken from me," he confessed. "You form a shell around yourself for protection. And you start to make decisions based off of things outside of what you want and who you are. I stopped doing so many of the things that I loved doing because it felt safer. That right there is the outcome of oppression. When you literally have to mute who you are in order to feel safe. That's soul-crushing."
But these days Blackburn wants to be "as happy as possible, as free as possible," and part of that is publicly owning his identity.
"I'm queer. I've identified as bisexual since a teenager," he told The Advocate."I just want to feel powerful in my own skin, and my own mind, and in my own heart."
Blackburn goes on to say that the pressure he felt to figure out his sexuality came both from all sides, including the queer community, who sometimes treat bisexuality as "a cop-out, or bullshit, or the easy way out." That led him to suppress his attraction to men until his late 20s, as the end of Pretty Little Liars was drawing close. It wasn't until then that Blackburn "really allowed myself to go there and not just wonder about it or lust over it, but experience that vulnerability and experience the emotional aspect of what it is to be bisexual.
"Just because you decide 'I am this thing' doesn't mean you immediately feel like you fit into that thing," explained Blackburn. "That's another part of the journey that I still don't always know how to navigate, but I'm feeling more courageous and fortified to explore."