Wilson Cruz revealed he was homeless for three months as a teen after he came out to his father on Christmas Eve. The 2020 Out100 honoreetold At Home With The Creative Coalition podcast he lived in his car and slept at the homes of friends before production started on My So-Called Life, where he starred in his breakthrough role of gay teen Rickie Vasquez.
“I think my parents were basically the last people to find out,” Cruz said, going on to specify that has was out to his younger brother and close friends. “So I hadn’t told them, then I got cast in My So-Called Life.”
He did tell his parents he had been cast in the pilot, but “didn’t tell them much” or “go into detail” about the part itself. This wasn’t an issue initially, as the show infamously went another year and a half before getting picked up for production.
“When we finally got the pickup, that’s when I realized I had to tell my family.”
Rather than tell them unprompted, he instead “made a bet with the universe that the next time either one of them would ask” he come out to them.
His mother was the first to ask. Cruz revealed she was perfectly fine and accepting after what he described as “a bit of a Catholic Latina mom breakdown.” His father was a different story, though.
It was Christmas Eve and they were surrounded by family and friends in celebration. His father, who had been drinking, asked why Cruz had brought his best friend for the evening rather than a girl like his younger brother.
“He was drunk and decided that was when he was going to ask,” Cruz recalled. “And like I said, I had made this bet, this agreement with the universe that I would be honest next time, and there, in the bathroom on Christmas Eve, my father asked me and I answered honestly. And he kicked me out of the house.”
While Cruz knew he had a job on the show, production didn’t start on it for another three months. He describes the time before shooting began as “a combination of staying with friends and staying in my car and doing what I had to do in order to survive.”
He and his father reconciled soon thereafter, but it wasn’t easy. Cruz revealed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1994 he used his mother’s maiden name as his own last name on My So-Called Life (and by extension in his professional career since) because “like the closeted homosexual I was, I didn't want to embarrass him.”
Cruz’s younger brother Josh also happens to be gay (and just as hot) and uses their mother’s maiden name. The siblings have another brother, Gilbert, a middle child who is three years younger than Wilson.