Search form

Scroll To Top
Out Exclusives

Kevin McHale on Playing AIDS Activist Bobbi Campbell in ABC's When We Rise

Kevin McHale on Playing AIDS Activist Bobbi Campbell in ABC's When We Rise

Kevin McHale
Photography: Miranda Penn Turin

You know him as Artie Abrams on Glee, but now McHale is tackling a more serious role.


His six seasons playing Artie Abrams, a paraplegic high school crooner, on Glee.


Portraying AIDS activist Bobbi Campbell in the ABC miniseries When We Rise. Campbell was the 16th person in San Francisco to be diagnosed with Kaposi's sarcoma and the first person to come out publicly as living with what would become known as AIDS.


"My family is from Connecticut and New York -- I was the only one born in Texas," says the 28-year-old actor, who now lives in Los Angeles. "We were the one blue dot in northern Texas--we were super liberal. You could spot us by the Obama flags. I was fortunate to grow up in that environment and didn't realize the rest of my friends weren't necessarily like that until I got older. I was like, 'All you guys have pickups and Southern accents.' I didn't notice that when I was in elementary school."

3. Kevin McHale


"It was hard to find stuff on Bobbi, but I was able to listen to some radio interviews. He was on the cover of Newsweek and labeled as sort of the AIDS poster boy. I think my first takeaway was that he never lived in shame. Even though nobody understood what was going on, he accepted it and lived out loud with it. He went to college to become a nurse, and when he got diagnosed he did his research. Talking to [Dustin Lance Black], I also learned how Bobbi got along with everyone. He fit right in when he moved to town.


"I was in a relationship for a long time, and that ended last year. I think I'm probably bad at dates. Online dating scares the shit out of me. I think I'm too awkward. My sense of humor sometimes doesn't translate well online. It's sort of like going to an audition, and you tell a joke, and it either lands or it doesn't. On Tinder or text, things get misconstrued so easily. I have one friend who is on everything, and for a while he was losing his mind. He was on, like, four dating apps at once, and he just seemed exhausted."

Photography: Miranda Penn Turin

Styling: Phillip Morrison

Hair: Carlos Ortiz

Makeup: Bethany Karlyn

Suit, Shirt & Tie: Burberry

Like what you see here? Subscribe and be the first to receive the latest issue of Out. Subscribe to print here and receive a complimentary digital subscription.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories Editors