Ronen Rubenstein has come out as bisexual.
The 27-year-old Israeli-American actor, who plays Rob Lowe’s gay son T.K. Strand in Ryan Murphy’s hit series 9-1-1 Lone Star, said was initially worried about the reaction his performance would receive from his parents and conservative friends back home, but instead found the portrayal, including one particularly steamy scene with his character’s on-screen boyfriend, gave him the inspiration he needed to come out and live freely.
Describing the role as “very personal and very intimate,” Rubinstein told Variety that he knew the role of T.K. “would be so much more than another acting gig or another character” he had tackled in the past.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking and a little mindboggling at first how specific T.K. was to my personal life,” he said, adding the role hit “very close to home” and left him “a little scared” even though he knew the part would be the “chance of a lifetime.”
In fact, his “biggest hesitation” was the reaction from his parents and friends back home.
“The biggest thing for me is where I come from, it’s like people like me and people who have identified as bisexual or gay or as any part of the community, you’re just not welcomed,” Rubinstein said. “It’s as brutally honest as that. It’s either you faced insane amounts of profanity, like the F-word was thrown around all the time or you would get your ass kicked if you were gay. So there was definitely a fear of sort of embracing how I felt.”
Rubinstein said he became more aware of his attraction to other men in high school, but “couldn’t talk to anybody about it.” He had similar difficulties initially explaining the role of T.K. to his family and friends. He tried to warn them about one particularly steamy encounter with T.K.’s boyfriend, Carlos, portrayed by out actor Rafael L. Silva.
“Carlos and I have a huge make-out scene where we, like, burst through the door, and we’re ripping our clothes off,” Rubinstein said. “It’s super hot and it just goes on. It just doesn’t stop. We’re, like, crashing against the walls, and then we end up on the couch. I warned my parents and my friends for months.”
It turned out Rubinstein had nothing to worry about from his family and friends or fans. The show has become a huge hit, and the response gave him the inspiration and strength to come out.
“I fully identify as bisexual,” Rubinstein gushed. “I literally just got goosebumps saying that. It feels so good to talk about it, it feels so good to finally be comfortable with it.”