If you’ve been watching NBC’s new ’60’s drama series The Playboy Club, you may recognize Sean Maher, who plays the husband of one of the bunnies. Maher’s appeared in other TV shows, including Make It or Break It on ABC Family, however he’s probably most well known for playing Dr. Simon Tam in Firefly.

The actor is now playing a closeted gay man in The Playboy Club and has apparently decided this is the best opportunity to announce publicly that he is gay. Maher expressed some nervousness when he sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss the subject, but also admitted that he was excited, saying “This is my coming out ball. I’ve been dying to do this.”

Maher has been in a committed relationship with a man for almost nine years and the couple have two adopted children together, Sophia Rose, 4, and Liam Xavier, 14 months. But his family and romantic life is apparently a topic he hasn’t discussed publicly. In his conversation with EW, he discusses his decision early on in his career to keep his sexuality private, deciding it was better for himself professionally:
“I’m thinking, What is the potential that if they caught wind that they had cast a gay lead actor that they would fire me? I was young, I was 22. I didn’t know anything. So that sort of started the idea of, okay, well, I’m working a lot, I guess I’ll just keep that gay part of my life on the back burner for now. I went so far as to sleep with women a couple times. It was a very confusing time for me.”

There’s a tone of relief in the way Maher talks about the situation, and understandably so, based on what he’s said about keeping the secret, which includes keeping his college friends separate from his work friends.

His character Sean on The Playboy Club has one of the most interesting developing stories, as he plays a gay man married to one of the club's Bunnies. His wife on the show is aware of his sexuality and as far as we’ve been shown, the two have consented to the arrangement as a means of keeping his (and possibly her) sexuality a secret. Maher says he made the conscious choice to use the role as an opportunity to come out, stating, “I was like, This is perfect. I want to do this, and I want to use it as a platform to come out.” And so he has. Hopefully it isn't too optimistic to suggest that this revelation won't affect how his fans see him and that they'll be appreciative that he feels comfortable opening up about the subject.

For more on the subject, check out EW’s full write-up of their conversation with Maher.

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