In this Out.com exclusive, we talk with actor Currie Graham about new revelations about his character on ABCs NYPD Blue.Your character, Lieutenant Thomas Bale, on NYPD Blue is revealed to be gay on episode 11 airing December 14th. Tell me about Bale. How is he found out to be gay?
Graham: Bale was a detective in Internal Affairs. He has spent his time investigating other cops. Hes been sent to this precinct to clean things up and take control of the squad. Bale is hyper-controlling, very tough, very by the book. Detective Sipowicz [Dennis Franz] and I have a very volatile relationship.
There is this guy who has been casing bars where closeted gay men go to hang out. These men are married or in a position of power and they dont want anyone to know they are gay. This guy waits outside for them, then jumps them and robs them. Because they dont want anything to come out, they dont go to the police. Eventually, they do find this guy. In his freezer, Sipowicz finds a stack of credit cards and in these cards is Lt. Bales credit card.
Does Sipowicz threaten to out Bale?
Sipowicz tells no one. Hes keeping his mouth shut. Its not used by him as a power play over Bale. Its an evolution of Sipowiczs characterto show that hes completely fine with it. I like that story line, because it shows that Bale and Sipowicz can still go head to head. Its a non-issue, which is cool. You have a man, Bale, who is in a position of power who can express his sexual orientation however he wants.
Were you told before you took the role that Bale would turn out to be gay?
I did not know at all. I didnt even find out about it that far ahead of time. I was surprised. You never know what direction they are going to go with things on this show. You could end up naked in bed.
Has your character being gay changed the way you see him in the show now?
I didnt change the character at all. It certainly gave me another color to work with, and still have an edge to play this guy.
Youre straight in real life. Have you played a gay character before?
I played a doctor who was gay on a series that was short lived. Playing a gay character has nothing to do with a stereotype. Bale is one of the toughest guys Ive played. He can cut it to the quick. His sexual orientation has nothing to do with the job he does.
Were you ever hesitant about playing a gay character?
My only hesitation [was making sure it was] going to be done in a positive way as opposed to the stereotype.
How do you think viewers will react to Bale being gay?
Our viewership is a little blue-collar. It will be good for audiences to see. Perhaps society is getting to that point where it doesnt matter.
I bet you get a lot of letters, both positive and negative.
When Bale first hit the airwaves, there was a lot of mail and online stuff about how much people hated me because I was tough and mean to the cops. [Laughs] With this, I expect there will be a lot of response from viewers. Good and bad. As long as youre feeling something, thats great.
We will have another exclusive interview with Graham in the February issue of Out.