GRAHAM PARKHURST WILL PLAY ANY SEXUAL ORIENTATION OKAY?

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“I mostly audition for gay roles now.” Graham Parkhurst says in between a long pause, “I’ve been told before, “Oh, that’s great, but can you be more gay?” Like, what do you mean? I know what they mean, but I want them to say it. I want to challenge them a bit, make them realize how shallow that is.

Admittedly funny, yes. But shallow. There are so many different levels, so many different types of gay men, gay people, queer people. Depth and nuance. “Can you be more gay?” Absolutely. Just let me know exactly what you mean by that and I’ll be happy to oblige.

 

On the other hand, I’ve never really heard of anyone saying, “Can you please act more straight? It could be more straight.” No one says that. This kind of thing has happened to many of my friends who are people of color too. Casting will say, can you be more like *insert ambiguous characteristics*? Then my friends are like “What does that mean to you?” Followed by an awkward silence. It’s important to respectfully challenge, you know? I don’t know. I don’t know. Afraid to ask for what they want because they’ll look bad, but then they ask for it in an absurd roundabout way which is, albeit funny, almost more insulting. Say what you mean and say it with your chest!”

Netflix cult classic Glamorous might have been Parkhurst’s “gayest” role. The actor played Parker a stereotypical jock character who is very much a self-proclaimed jock and semi-douche that idolizes gay male perfection, 6-pack and all. Parkhurst is no stranger to fandoms previously starring in series like Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, The Umbrella Academy, and Titans. We sit down with the Canadian-born actor to discuss sexual orientation bias in “Hollywood”, First Loves, and how the actor stays healthy and grounded.

 

Was there ever a coming out for you and what was that like personally and professionally?

Personally? Funny story. Actually. I was in musical theater school. It was my first year and I was at a party with a beautiful girl that I think might have had a crush on me at the time, and we were literally in a closet. Literally in a closet! She said something along the lines of, “I like you”. And then I said, “I’m gay!” She made an audible noise, and left the closet. I then stood up and came out of the closet. That night I got so wasted I told pretty much everyone at the party. Professionally, I never really hid that I was gay, but I mean, Glamorous was broadcasted around the world, so I guess I was going to get outed eventually anyway! Hopefully, I still get cast for straight roles. That’d be cute.

How do you think that role helped change or highlight perceptions in the LGBTQ community? Or do you think it did?

I think there are a lot of Parkers out there. I think I’ve dated some Parkers, so I don’t think his character is new to anybody. I don’t think it probably changed anybody’s opinion on that type of person. What I think I did with the character, might have been a little different than what another actor would’ve done. I tried to make him more human because everyone is human, and I believe even flawed people have kindness and love, even if they aren’t equipped to show it.

 

 

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What is the climate right now in “Hollywood”?

I know that I’ve spoken to a lot of very eager artists who are ready and willing to create again because last year it was taken away from everybody. So what I feel from people I’ve talked to is that everybody is ready to work, ready to work hard, and ready to create. However, I’m not sure there are enough jobs yet for everybody right now, which is driving people nuts. I think that’ll level out throughout the year once everything calms down. A lot of the biggest names right now are taking jobs they never would’ve looked at before, because they also haven’t worked in a year, or they haven’t worked as much. So then everybody else, especially if you’re just beginning or you’re not as high up, you’re not being selected for these jobs. But everybody takes it personally and thinks that it’s because they suck or it’s something they’re doing wrong when it has nothing to do with them. They’re perfectly great at what they do, probably even better than they think, but the jobs are going to go to the bigger names that are available.

Though, I feel a hopeful, creative kind of energy from most people I talk to. Everybody’s anxious to work. And because of that, a lot of artists are creating their stuff, and I think people are being forced to explore who they are and what brings them joy outside of work, which will inevitably add more depth to their art.

What is it that inspires you?

I think ultimately, acting is one of the only times that I’d let go, and I’ve realized over the years, especially when I was in theater, the reason I loved it so much was because when I am performing is the only time I feel grounded and present and in the moment. I felt that on the set of Glamorous as well, as soon as the camera started rolling, it’s like, ‘oh, I’m here. I’m in this moment.’ I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing’, and when you lose access to it, you start to lose yourself if you’re not careful- which goes back to the last question of “how is Hollywood?” Everybody lost a sense of who they were for a little while, and now everybody’s eager to get that back.

What sort of roles do you dream about playing as the next,

I want to go on Broadway. I want to be on Broadway. I think that would be the next step for me in terms of theater. I haven’t done theater in a little while, a few years, so I think it’d be really, really cool to get to do it again but on that level and be in the moment again, truly just be in the moment. When you’re on a big show, you have weeks, maybe months of rehearsals where you’re breaking down a character, working on your craft, creating a family with the cast, and even if the family doesn’t last after the show closes, you got to spend so much time collaborating with people who you love, or hate, whatever- who have the same invested interest in creating magic. It’s magic! And when you’re not working as an artist, I think that’s what disappears. Then you start the comparison game. I think the beautiful thing about theatre is everyone’s there for the main purpose of creating magic……. even if the show sucks…. It’s just fun.

What else would I like to play? Hmmmm… I used to think at first that I would like to be the lead in a superhero movie, but I think I’d rather play a villain. I think that’s kind of where my talents are better suited. I think I’d have more fun with it. I could bring more humanity and stupidity to a villain.

 

Who are your top three biggest heartthrobs right now?

Very hard question! I’m going to go with Jonathan Bailey. I’m going to give one to Ms. Benny. I love her! Who else? Let’s see. There are too many. Maybe, Luke Evans, so into him right now. He’s so cute.

 

What was it like the first time you fell in love?

Magical! But looking back, I wasn’t a great partner….. but feeling that intense love for the first time was really beautiful. I’d never felt so much passion or obsession or joy or heartache before that. But I mean, I think that’s everybody’s first real experience with love.

Turbulent. As a millennial gay, first love often came later in life. Maybe not for all of us, but most. I kind of grew up in a time when it wasn’t like the eighties or nineties, but “gay” still wasn’t cool.

Now it’s almost cool to have dated every type of person before you leave high school. There was still a lot of shame associated with being gay, so the first time falling in love and embracing who I was felt magical. I’m actually still really close with my first love. For that, I consider myself very lucky. And if he sees this article- you’re welcome.

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Who are some of the most remarkable people you’ve gotten to work alongside?

Insert Miss Benny, again, actually, for sure! We’re in love. She doesn’t know it. I also did a play with George Wendt from Cheers, and his wife, Bernadette. I remember we were in Calgary, Alberta, and we doing a farce, and I think it was 12 weeks or something like that. It was a small cast, so we all got to know each other well, and they were just the sweetest, most wonderful, down-to-earth people. My dad was flabbergasted about George being in Before I had done that show, I had done so many different larger scales productions, but my dad knows nothing about the industry and as soon as he saw that I was working with George, he was like, “wow, you finally made it!” I was like, “no, dad. I made it six years ago”. But then I decided to take the W and was like, “thank you, dad”.

What does your family think of your career?

They’re so disconnected from it. My mom says “That was awesome” to every single thing I do. I don’t think she can tell if it’s garbage or not. I love it. In a way, it’s really good that none of my family is in the arts. It keeps me grounded. And when I go home I just become a child again. The kid who’s just happy to be there with his family. No pressure. No expectations. And whether it’s performing for 2000 people on stage, having one line on a TV show, or running around topless on Netflix, to them, it’s the same thing and they’re proud of me. You know what I mean? It’s great.

Who would you like to share the screen with?

I’ve been asked this a lot and answer differently almost every time, but in my wildest, I would say, give me a scene with Meryl Streep. I want her to murder me with her skills. You know what I mean? I want to learn and just be in the presence of someone who I’ve looked up to forever. How iconic would that be? I’ve worked with so many incredible actors, and when they challenge you, that’s when you get the best workout. So yeah, I’m just going to be boring and say, Meryl Streep.

What do you do for self-care?

I go to the gym probably six days a week. I eat pretty healthy. I used to read, but I don’t do that so much anymore because I love TikTok. I have a lot of really close friends that I see quite often, which I need. I mean, I need that support. And non-artists, which in a way is the same as a family almost, because they don’t get it, and therefore they don’t hold me to any standard or have any expectations. I don’t have to “be on”. Oh, yeah and I moisturize a lot…

Any words of motivation for the people reading this

I mean, the irony of saying this right now, but be patient and try your best not to lose focus and try not to compare yourself. It’s important to want to better yourself and learn from people who you look up to, but as soon as you start comparing yourself to others, you’re done. The joy is gone. I think of it as linear, right? It’s like the person you’re inspired by is at D, but you’re just starting at A, right? You just have to kind of keep going. Eventually, you’re going to be at D. Does that make any sense? Probably not. Anyway, stop comparing yourself. You’re just at different points in your career. If you keep going, you stay focused and you keep trying to better yourself, something will inevitably happen for you.

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CONNECT WITH Graham Parkhurst 
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Creative Producer:Cully Wright  @cullywright
Wardrobe: Giuliana Russo @giulianamarie
Grooming:Abraham Esparza @thisisbabe
Photographer/Director:Julie Goldstone @julie_goldstone
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