Keiynan Lonsdale On Love, Simon and the Joy of Leaving the Closet

Keiynan Lonsdale
Photography by Brian Higbee

You Know Him From: His role as Wally West and his superhero alter ego, Kid Flash, on the shows The Flash, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow; his portrayal of Uriah Pedrad in the 2015 film The Divergent Series: Insurgent; his turn as outspoken queer ballet student Ollie Lloyd on the Aussie teen drama Dance Academy.

What’s Next: Joining Legends of Tomorrow as a series regular; playing handsome jock Bram Greenfeld, a friend and possible love interest of Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), in Greg Berlanti’s new dramedy Love, Simon (opening March 16), about a closeted high school student who falls for his mysterious email pen pal. The singer and dancer is also at work on an album, due later this year.

Under the Influence: “Doing Love, Simon was really inspiring for me,” says Lonsdale, who came out in an Instagram post last year while shooting the movie. “I thought, Wow, I’m doing a film about equality and coming out, and the director has his partner and their child on set, and everyone’s so supportive and loving, and yet here I am still hiding. At what point am I going to be able to be myself? I realized it had nothing to do with anyone else. It was just me holding myself back.”

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All in the Family: “When I was young I never felt like I fit in,” says the 26-year-old Sydney native, who grew up with his Australian mother and her five children from a previous relationship (he also has six siblings on his Nigerian father’s side). “I looked different from my brothers and sisters, and I couldn’t understand why. Then I started trying on dresses and wanting to do my mom’s hair, and I figured out that according to other people, that wasn’t normal. But I just went back to Australia for my mom’s 60th birthday, and we were all there, and we’re all so different, and that’s what makes it really special. There’s no one in my family pretending to be anything they’re not anymore.”

On Leaving the Closet: “I was making decisions based on fear. I was altering my personality and the photos I’d put up on social media and the emojis I’d use—every little thing. It was a full-time job. What that does is keep building shame, without you even realizing it. Honestly, I didn’t come out to inspire others. I couldn’t actually process anybody else’s thoughts, because that’s what was keeping me afraid. I did it for myself, but then, once I realized the effect it had on other people, it became this beautiful thing. And I can go anywhere now and be me. I’m a better actor, a better musician, and a better person.”

Back to Basics: “I’m drawn to art that expresses a message of love. John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ is the simplest song, but everything anyone’s ever needed to say in music is in that song. We’re always trying to make things complex, because we assume something must be complex for it to be of good quality, when in reality to make something simple and beautiful and have it connect, that’s actually the most difficult thing. We keep building higher buildings and fancier gadgets, trying to find joy and happiness and fill our souls, when what we need is actually already there and really simple.”

Photography: Brian Higbee 

Styling: Alison Brooks

Grooming: Bekah Lesser at Opus Beauty using Oribe and Chanel Les Beiges.

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