Russell Tovey’s mum struggled to accept his sexuality. Now she goes to leather fetish fairs with him

Collage of Russell Tovey and a person in a leather mask

Russell Tovey once struggled to get his parents to accept him as a gay man – but now he takes his mum to Leather Pride events.

The out-and-proud Years and Years and Looking actor and his mum, Carole Haynes, opened up about their relationship in a joint interview with The Times.

Tovey, who came out of the closet at 18, explained that it was “particularly hard for Mum because we’ve always been so close,” adding: “I don’t think either of my parents were homophobic, they just didn’t know any gay people or anyone with gay kids. They had nothing to cling to.

“My dad thought it could be cured. He was scared about what my life would be like. To him, being gay was a road of pitfalls and unhappiness; out of love he wanted to correct this weakness, to put cotton wool around me and protect me from all that.

Russel Tovey with his parents

Russell Tovey with his mother Carole Haynes and father George Tovey (Dave Benett/WireImage/Getty)

“People react in different ways, there’s no rhyme or reason, but if you love someone you have to respect the process.”

Haynes reflected that when Tovey came out, she felt a sense of “huge loss”, adding: “I thought he’d never get married and never have children.”

Russell Tovey took mum to the Folsom Street Fair.

While family relations were strained for a few years, happily Tovey now has a great relationship with his parents.

He added: “I have a great relationship with both my parents now. My relationship with my mum is just heaven. She loves hanging out with my mates. I take her to events and opening nights, she talks to everyone and wants to know everything.”

Haynes added: “Russ has opened my eyes to a world I’d never have known and I absolutely love it.

“A few years ago he was working on a series and he sent me first-class plane tickets to go and stay with him in San Francisco and we went to the Folsom Street Fair [part of Leather Pride Week].

“Well, I saw things I never dreamt existed. How people breathe in their masks with collars and leads I don’t know. They weren’t hurting anyone — well, some of them were hurting each other — but consensually.

“Russ and I were in hysterics the whole time.”

Russell Tovey took his mum to the Folsom Street Fair

A man is whipped at the Folsom Street Fair (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Actor was taught being gay is ‘wrong and dangerous’

Russell Tovey previously spoke about the impact of going to school under the homophobic Section 28.

He told The Independent: ” It was ‘male-female, that’s it. Anything else is weird, wrong, dangerous, disgusting, not acceptable.’ So that’s what you were taught as a kid – you keep it a big, big secret and you don’t tell anyone.

“We’re in a world now where people are choosing their pronouns. They’re having the opportunity to not define themselves by anything and their peers are accepting of that. I find that really inspiring and so exciting. And I’m slightly envious.”

He added: “Generations above us would be super envious of the fact that I’m able to sit and talk to you like this now… I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. What they did for us, to be able to sit here now and just talk like this… you can’t ever thank them enough.”