amer­i­can life

Fresh from MTV’s ground­break­ing show Fak­ing It, Gregg Sulkin is tak­ing a break from film­ing his sex­u­al­ity-bend­ing new flick to make a splash on the cover of GT. But there’s more than just a pretty face and chis­eled body be­hind this Bri­tish ac­tor, as we fo


Star­ing deep into the eyes of a Hol­ly­wood heart­throb while he ser­e­nades you with a song is a dream come true for most of us. It’s just that when we’re hav­ing that dream, the song is usu­ally a lit­tle more ro­man­tic than Brit­ney Spears’ Baby One More Time.

“My lone­li­ness is killing meeeee…” wails laugh­ter. We’re talk­ing gay an­thems, and the 23-year-old ac­tor has just picked the Princess of Pop’s 1998 break­through hit as his.

“It’s a time­less track,” Gregg ex­plains, “and I’ve seen how gay men re­act to her – it’s out of con­trol! They love her. I think peo­ple have had their doubts about her and her beau­ti­ful ta­lent, but she’s al­ways been an en­ter­tainer and she does that amaz­ingly. Es­pe­cially now. She’s still kick­ing arse!”

Gregg – orig­i­nally born in Lon­don but now liv­ing in LA, hence the “arse” – also dubs Brit­ney his favourite diva. And when it comes to his gay hero, he goes for Sir El­ton John: “Wow, what a ta­lent. It’s ridicu­lous. But I also re­spect what he does for char­ity.”

But why’re we putting Gregg’s knowl­edge of gay cul­ture to the test? Well, asides from be­ing a very, very, very pretty face, we in­vited Gregg onto the cover of our hum­ble mag­a­zine which looks set to chal­lenge the way we think about sex­u­al­ity and la­belling in so­ci­ety.

school quar­ter­back. Well, sorta.

He plays pop­u­lar jock Josh McIn­tyre, who longs to be a writer, but ev­ery­one ex­pects him to just head to col­lege on a foot­ball schol­ar­ship.

With no one tak­ing him se­ri­ously, Josh starts a so­cial ex­per­i­ment by chang­ing his Face­book sta­tus to ‘in­ter­ested in men’, in a bid to write an ar­ti­cle about how peo­ple re­act and treat him. The story of the star quar­ter­back be­ing gay makes it into the na­tional me­dia’s spot­light, how­ever, and overnight Josh be­comes a hero to gay teens across the coun­try. Leav­ing Josh in the sticky sit­u­a­tion of some­how hav­ing to ex­plain that he’s, y’know, straight…

“It’s ba­si­cally a mod­ern day ver­sion of an ac­tor adopts a new iden­tity as a woman to land a role],” he says en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. “And Dustin is one of my favourite ac­tors of all time! The part of the story that was im­por­tant to me was Josh not want­ing to be a foot­ball player. He feels he has an­other pas­sion that he wants to ex­per­i­ment with, and there are so many kids out there who’re trapped with what­ever their par­ents are telling them. Kids should just be able to be kids!

“And when it comes to the sex­u­al­ity side of the movie, I think it’s one of those that’s go­ing to high­light and ed­u­cate the au­di­ence into see­ing the other side of the coin. It’s very easy for some­one to judge and so many peo­ple have mis­con­cep­tions about gay men, their strug­gles and so on.

“Josh is pre­tend­ing to be gay be­cause he re­ally wants to see how gay peo­ple are treated dif­fer­ently. And it’s not just high­light­ing sex­u­al­ity, but so­ci­ety’s pres­sures on la­belling peo­ple, too.”

It’s some­thing that rings true with Gregg, hark­ing back to his own days at school.

“I re­mem­ber when I was play­ing foot­ball, ev­ery­one used to think I was ma­cho and the

‘sports kid’. But I was al­ways like, ‘What’re you guys talk­ing about? I love po­etry!’ No one could ac­cept that a kid who played sport would also write po­ems.”

It’s in­dica­tive of the way that we, as a so­ci­ety, are so eas­ily able to stereo­type and pi­geon­hole For ex­am­ple, look­ing at the cover of this very is­sue you hold in your hands – would you stop to think about Gregg’s creative and artis­tic sides? Or would you just see him as a great isn’t just a one-way street from straight men to women, af­ter all. Any of us who’ve ever opened a dat­ing app know just how easy it is to look at peo­ple as pieces of meat.

But it’s not some­thing that par­tic­u­larly both­ers Gregg, per se. He’s in­cred­i­bly grounded when he ex­plains: “I’m asked to sports, I was al­ways chang­ing in front of my team mates, and it wasn’t a big deal for me. I’m kind of used to it. When you think about it, there isn’t much dif­fer­ence be­tween a guy be­ing asked to do that and a girl be­ing asked to do that. But if tak­ing my shirt off is go­ing to be the worst thing peo­ple are go­ing to ask me, then what­ever. To me, it’s not a big deal.”

Gra­tu­itous top­less­ness aside, Gregg ex­plains how im­por­tant it was to him to be grac­ing the pub­li­ca­tion.

“It’s such an im­por­tant time in the LGBT+ com­mu­nity’s his­tory and I’m happy to be sup­port­ing,” he ex­plains, with a sin­cere smile spread­ing across his face. “Even if it’s just in a small way, see­ing straight men on gay mag­a­zines helps peo­ple re­alise that it’s com­pletely ac­cept­able to be gay. I didn’t want this to be just an­other photo shoot; it’s a lot more mean­ing­ful for me than any­thing else.

“I wanted to make sure that if there’s a per­son who looks up to me and they’re strug­gling with their sex­u­al­ity – if they’re un­happy or feel trapped or feel like they can’t be them­selves – I wanted be there to help them re­alise that it’s OK to be who they re­ally are and how they truly feel.”

There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to straight guys be­ing on the cover of gay mag­a­zines. Some of the more mil­i­tant in our com­mu­nity think it’s the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the gay press to push the queer agenda as much as pos­si­ble, which is an ar­gu­ment not with­out its merit. But in a post-Or­lando world, where there are young LGBT+ peo­ple suf­fer­ing from men­tal health is­sues, high sui­cide rates and home­less­ness, as far as we’re con­cerned, ev­ery lit­tle helps when it comes to try­ing make peo­ple feel more ac­cepted, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of turn­ing to our straight al­lies for help with that.

It’s an earnest at­tempt to help peo­ple feel com­fort­able in their own skin that also led Gregg to his role on MTV’s re­cently-wrapped teen rom-com Fak­ing It. The show ran from 2014 to ear­lier this year, and cen­tred around two best friends who de­cided to come out as a les­bian cou­ple in a des­per­ate at­tempt to grasp pop­u­lar­ity. The hit se­ries – which also to play an in­ter­sex char­ac­ter – saw Gregg take up the man­tle of Liam Booker; a hunk artist, the most de­sired kid in school and best-friend to pop­u­lar gay stu­dent Shane. If you’ve never seen it, it’s ba­si­cally the TV equiv­a­lent of bring­ing hor­mones to the boil.

“I did Fak­ing It for the same rea­sons I wanted to be on the cover of GT,” starts Gregg, “and that’s to try and ed­u­cate the ig­no­rant. Just be­cause some­one is at­tracted to the same sex doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the same hu­man rights that ev­ery­one has. And we’re cer­tainly not there yet when it comes to gay men and women be­ing able to com­fort­ably come out.

“A few nights ago, though, a girl came up to me in the su­per­mar­ket and said, ‘Fak­ing It changed my life. I’m in love with my best friend and by watch­ing your show I was able to com­fort­ably ex­press my feel­ings to­wards her.’ It’s so in­spir­ing to know that you’ve been a part of the kind of show which some­one started watch­ing not feel­ing com­fort­able with them­selves, but by the end, their life had changed be­cause of it.

“You do a com­edy to make peo­ple laugh, you do a drama to get peo­ple en­gaged, but it’s very dif­fer­ent when you’re deal­ing with sen­si­tive sub­ject mat­ter and you’re able to suc­cess­fully help peo­ple feel good about

Gregg tells us that there are no gay men or women in his bi­o­log­i­cal fam­ily, but that his work fam­ily – the cast and crew who were with him on Fak­ing It – was “60% LGBT+, and those guys are life­long friends now”. And

“If there’s a per­son who looks up to me and they’re strug­gling with their sex­u­al­ity, I want them to re­alise it’s OK.”

“I’ve had peo­ple say, ‘You can only play gay once!’ Or, ‘You don’t want to be play­ing gay right now...’ It’s so silly!”

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