Comedian Billy Eichner was told he was ‘too gay’ to be on TV at start of career

Promotional still of comedian Billy Eichner wearing a black shirt and white suit jacket.

Comedian and actor Billy Eichner has opened up about being told he was “too gay” for TV at the start of his career by people in the industry.

Eichner, who started doing live comedy shows in New York in the early 2000s, remembered how industry folks would attend his shows. 

Speaking on the Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend podcast, he said: “[They] would come and acknowledge that I was talented or that I was funny, that the audience was laughing a lot, that I was unique.

“But then they would go on to say ‘we don’t know what to do with you’ or ‘you’re very New York’.”

“A lot of times,” Eichner continued, “in both overt ways and subtle ways, I was sent the message that I was just too gay.

“I was being openly gay on stage. I was talking about gay sex. Now everyone’s talking about gay sex. But this is 2003. Right?” 

And after O’Brien joked that Eichner was “losing roles to dinosaurs”, Eichner quipped back: “Dinosaurs were f**king on screen but I wasn’t allowed to.”

Billy Eichner said that that message was repeatedly sent to him but his luck changed when he put his videos online.

“After a while, they went viral,” he said, “very viral and I was able to point to all those people in the industry and say, ‘Hey I’m not too this or too that, this video has millions of views.’ These views aren’t coming exclusively from gay people watching in New York City…”

Once Eichner was able to prove he was not a “niche thing” because of his sexuality he finally had his big break on TV. 

Now Billy Eichner is making history with his upcoming rom-com Bros, which will be the first ever major studio film featuring an entirely LGBTQ+ principal cast with a main queer story.

Contrary to the way he was expected to censor himself at the beginning of his career, Bros promises to be an unfiltered and authentic look and the gay community. 

Eichner went on to criticise Hollywood’s image as being progressive by saying: “Just voting for a democrat doesn’t mean you are treating LGBTQ+ people correctly on the day to day.”
Bros comes out in UK cinemas on 28 October.