Ben Aldridge on how therapy helped him process the ‘pain’ of hiding his sexuality

Fleabag star Ben Aldridge. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Ben Aldridge, star of M. Night Shyamalan’s new thriller Knock at the Cabin, has opened up about the way therapy helped him deal with long-standing shame around his sexuality.

Aldridge, who is openly gay, appears opposite Jonathan Groff in the new LGBTQ+ horror Knock at the Cabin, which tells the story of two fathers who take their daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) on a quiet weekend away, only to be served with a harrowing ultimatum from four intruders who declare one family members must be sacrificed to save the world.

Speaking to Attitude magazine about how his recent roles have helped him explore his identity, Aldridge reflected upon his coming out process in the wake of being in a relationship with a closeted actor.

“I won’t name names — but it was basically a well-known actor at the time, and he was very conscious of it not being in the press, for him,” Aldridge began.

“I was very in denial that hiding my sexuality had caused me any problem. When I came out, I made it absolutely the lowest key thing ever. I didn’t sit anyone down; I didn’t make a big drama out of it. I just wanted to almost not acknowledge it in a way because I was in denial of how much pain was surrounding that.”

Ben Aldridge’s attitude cover story includes him discussing his religious upbringing (Kosmas Pavlos/Attitude)

Aldridge explained that eventually he came to the realisation that not only was concealing his sexuality unhealthy, but it had in fact negatively impacted his mental health to the point where he suffered with anxiety.

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“I started going to therapy because I felt heartbroken,” he continued. “But I discovered that, actually, there was all this other stuff that I hadn’t addressed and hadn’t looked at. You can’t underestimate the trauma of growing up in a world that tells you that you’re disgusting.

“And I feel like we do the best job of being fabulous, but I think it can wound us deeply, really deeply. More than we can comprehend sometimes.”

In the interview, Aldridge also detailed his experience of growing up with religious parents, but emphasised that “they led with love” despite banning him from watching popular television shows such as Neighbours and Friends.

“My parents weren’t the kind of God-fearing Christians. It wasn’t about, ‘You could go to hell.’ It was more about, ‘How could we help the world?’ And I think in that way it’s been a good foundation.”

Reflecting on the “wave of progress” in the industry that has seen greater representation in terms of queer actors playing queer roles, Aldridge added that it was “really nice” to have the opportunity to play a gay parent in Knock at the Cabin.

Ben Aldridge as Andrew (L), Kristen Cui as Wen, Jonathan Groff as Eric and Dave Bautista as Leonard,
Ben Aldridge as Andrew (L), Kristen Cui as Wen, Jonathan Groff as Eric and Dave Bautista as Leonard (R). (Universal Pictures)

“I think Night really just believed that it’s the old adage: love is love, and a family is a family. Night’s a super family man. His three girls and his wife are everything to him. I think he put himself in the shoes of the character and he’s like, ‘How would this affect my family?’ It’s not about [the characters] being gay.”

Despite varied reviews from critics, Knock at the Cabin was a smash hit at the box office, dethroning the highly anticipated Avatar sequel Way of the Water.

The Attitude March/April issue is out Friday 10th February.