Colton Haynes shares the photo he once tried to erase from the internet: ‘Being gay is worth celebrating’

Colton Haynes

Actor Colton Haynes has proudly shared the photo he spent years trying to erase from the internet, taken when he was a closeted gay teen.

The Teen Wolf and Arrow star once featured on the cover of XY, a magazine aimed at young LGBT+ readers, when he was working as a model aged 17.

The shirtless photo shows him entangled in a homoerotic pose with another male model – and for a long time he couldn’t bear to look at it.

“I’ve never posted this picture before. In fact, I spent a big part of my career trying to erase it from the internet while I was still in the closet,” he admitted on Instagram.

“Partly because so many people in Hollywood told me I would never work as an openly gay actor, but part of it was because I was incredibly ashamed.”

Haynes has previously spoken of his early struggle with his sexuality, revealing that he ran away from home after he came out to his mother, and was once told that his being gay is what drove his father to kill himself.

Now 32, he explained that looking at the photo of his young self would make him feel “sad” as it reminded of him of a time “before I was placed with voice and movement coaches to straighten me up for the cameras… before I learned to see my queerness as a liability.”

“I was jealous of him. The boy in these pictures was so open, so free. He had to be taught that it wasn’t OK to be who he was,” he said.

The XY photos emerged online soon after Teen Wolf first began airing in 2011, and Haynes desperately tried to stop the spread by threatening legal action.

Gay men’s lifestyle magazine Instinct recalled: We remember getting a letter [saying] that we will be sued if we do not take the image down.”

A decade later, the actor has found peace with himself and is able to see the photo with different eyes. Haynes said he was posting the throwback image now to reclaim it and to stop feeling ashamed by it.

“Being gay is worth celebrating. I wish I’d figured that out sooner, but I’m so glad I know it now,” he said. “To everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community, I hope you celebrate yourselves this month & always, exactly as you are.”


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