Jonathan Bailey talked about being gay ‘from the age of 11’

Jonathan Bailey at the season 2 premiere for Netflix's Bridgerton

Fellow Travelers star Jonathan Bailey has opened up about his experience of growing up as a gay child in rural Britain.

The 35-year-old Bridgerton actor explained that where he grew up, in the small Oxfordshire village of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, anyone deemed “other” was seen as “not acceptable”.

“That’s how I felt growing up, purely on the basis that I wasn’t aware of any gay people around me,” he told Gay Times in a new interview.

When he’s not been sucking Matt Bomers’ toes in historic queer drama Fellow Travelers or starring alongside Ariana Grande in the upcoming Wicked film adaptation, Bailey has been spending time working on a new partnership with LGBTQ+ youth charity Just Like Us, which works with schools and colleges to ensure young queer people can thrive.

Reflecting the importance of role models for young queer people, Jonathan Bailey recalled how he understood his sexuality from the age of 11, but a lack of LGBTQ+ representation stunted him from being able to fully “blossom”.

Jonathan Bailey in a black roll-neck and blazer.
Fellow Travelers star Jonathan Bailey has opened up about growing up gay. (Getty)

“The media spun stories that were so negative towards the plight of the gay experience, so I didn’t really have access to anything that made me feel welcome or like I was going to be OK, and I was someone who was very aware of who I was,” he shared.

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“I talked about it from the age of eleven. I wonder what my life would’ve been like, had there been the vocabulary and ambassadors coming into my school.

“It would’ve definitely helped me feel more secure and to blossom quicker. For me, that sort of confidence in myself has come later on in life because of not having that.”

Bailey was born in 1988, the year that Margaret Thatcher’s reviled Section 28 law was introduced, banning the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools.

Section 28 was only wiped from the statute book in 2003, when Bailey was 15 – meaning he would have spent most of his school life being educated under the damaging legislation.