As I mentioned here yesterday, Paul Iacono is the 23-year-old actor from MTV’s The Hard Times of RJ Berger. He’s also in some short plays, a new MTV show — and he’s a gay role model!
Here’s our interview from earlier today in which Paul came out:
Hi, Paul! Please tell me about the plays.
I’m in Justin Sayre Is Alive and Well … Writing, which is sort of absurdist sketch comedy. Justin’s got this unique voice and it’s vignettes from his perspective. He’s sort of this Quentin Crisp character. I play a lollipop-sucking fourth-grade slut. A homeless turn-of-the-century match girl. A pregnant bunny. A politically active parakeet. And a drunk Tinker Bell at the bar complaining about how her boyfriend Peter Pan is an asshole. I shit myself with glitter and throw it into the audience. Fun for the whole family!
Absolutely. And your upcoming MTV show?
It’s called Kenzie’s Scale. I play Cole, Kenzie’s boyfriend. It’s about a high school sweetheart couple who move to New York for college. He has this gay awakening when they get there. So they continue living together more as friends than lovers. It’s like a radical young Will & Grace. It explores the sexual spectrum from a millennial, ambiguous generation [point of view]. I believe that in 100 years, none of us will be having to identify ourselves as gay, straight, bi, or otherwise. Sexuality will be a more fluid thing. The show is a progressive outlet of that idea.
Speaking of which, you’re openly gay now?
Yes. I’m rolling with the punches here. I was asked if I was comfortable doing gay press. I said, “Of course.” I didn’t think I’d be coming out. But why not now? I think it’s the right time to say something. It’s not about me; it’s about change and the work.
Is part of it to inspire the gay youth out there?
Of course. The whole reason we came up with Kenzie’s Scale is to give young gays characters to look up to. It’s great that we have Chris Colfer, but we need more characters. I was so moved by your comment on Facebook that “if I’d grown up with gay TV icons that were out, I’d have been so much better off.” I didn’t have much to look up to as a kid. I had to search to find like-minded images. I’m happy to be that person so kids won’t have to grow up and be afraid of their sexuality and this won’t be an issue.
Were you out from the start?
God, no. I grew up in a really old-school Italian traditional family in New Jersey. I tried coming out a couple of times as a kid, from 13-14 on, and was always squashed on. I went to the Professional Performing Arts school in Manhattan. My father found an email correspondence of me planning a date with another male student, very innocent. I had to deny it.
I was just coming to terms with the fact that I was bisexual, which culturally I do identify with as a gay man — I am attracted to girls, I’m just attracted to guys much more. My father quickly stomped that. He wanted to pull me from the school. I had to feign heterosexuality for a couple of years. It messed with my head. It took me a longer time to be OK with it. It was not until I was 18 that I came out with my mom and 20 with my dad. I was older and able to address it from a different perspective.
“All these litte homos need to stop killing themselves because it does get better!”
Yay! Love this guy a lot.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 11, 2012