The for­mer Dis­ney star on com­ing out and the need for LGBTQ rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the House of Mouse.

Gay Times Magazine - - MOLLEE GRAY. - Image Jeka Jane Words Daniel Me­garry

Af­ter ap­pear­ing in a string of big-hit­ting Dis­ney Chan­nel fran­chises like Teen Beach Movie and High School Mu­si­cal, Mollee Gray found her­self at a cross­roads: Should she keep her sex­u­al­ity a se­cret to fur­ther her ca­reer, or be true to her­self and come out as gay?

“I was so scared that I was gonna be judged and that I wasn’t gonna be able to work as an ac­tor any­more. In my brain, what I thought was, ‘Who would hire a les­bian to play straight in a film? Like, who’s gonna be­lieve me now?’,” she tells us.

But for­tu­nately for Mollee, the world fell in love with her and her long­time part­ner Jeka when they wed in a pic­turesque cer­e­mony late last year, and her sex­u­al­ity was very much a non-is­sue. Now, she’s got roles lined up in a num­ber of movies, and she be­lieves com­ing out to the world was the “best choice” she’s ever made.

We spoke to the ac­tress about her com­ing out jour­ney, her fairy­tale wed­ding, and why Dis­ney needs to do bet­ter with LGBTQ rep­re­sen­ta­tion...

You’re an openly gay ac­tress, which is some­thing to be proud of. Do you feel a re­spon­si­bil­ity to be a pos­i­tive role model to the com­mu­nity?

I feel a great amount of re­spon­si­bil­ity to be a role model. Even though we’re in 2018, I still get ner­vous to in­tro­duce my­self in that way and to see what the re­sponse is go­ing to be on the other end. But in those mo­ments, I know if I feel that way even with the pub­lic­ity and suc­cess I have, there has to be other peo­ple who feel that way too. So I like to kind of re­late to peo­ple like me by say­ing it’s go­ing to get bet­ter. It’s the same for ev­ery­one, no one has a hi­er­ar­chy just be­cause of their sta­tus, there’s still that ex­pe­ri­ence of com­ing out and feel­ing dif­fer­ent. It’s a spe­cial com­mu­nity to be a part of, so ab­so­lutely I hope to be a role model.

Your mar­riage to Jeka was a re­ally nice op­por­tu­nity for the world to see a same-sex cou­ple in a pos­i­tive way. Is this on your mind when you think of your re­la­tion­ship?

Oh ab­so­lutely. But at the same time, I don’t think, ‘Oh wow, my re­la­tion­ship is a suc­cess­ful les­bian re­la­tion­ship’, I just think, ‘Wow, I get to spend the rest of my life with the per­son who I’m com­pletely in love with’, do you know what I mean? Ob­vi­ously Jeka is fe­male, but I don’t go to bed think­ing, ‘I’m lay­ing in bed with a fe­male’, I’m think­ing, ‘Wow, I’m lay­ing in bed with my soul­mate’. And I think that’s what’s so spe­cial about it. I don’t la­bel it even in my own head as a same-sex mar­riage, I’m just blessed with love in my life and this is how awe­some it is. Ob­vi­ously I’m very proud to be a part of the com­mu­nity, but I don’t try to dif­fer­en­ti­ate from het­ero­sex­ual cou­ples on that spec­trum of love. I just think, if you find it, you take it.

Was there ever a mo­ment where you felt like you should stay in the closet?

Ac­tu­ally, when I had my bridal shower be­fore my wed­ding, my pub­li­cist was like, ‘You need to come out, you should be post­ing about your bridal shower, and post­ing that you’re get­ting mar­ried, it’s the hap­pi­est day of your life’, and I was so scared that I was gonna be judged and that I wasn’t gonna be able to work as an ac­tor any­more. In my brain, what I thought was, ‘Who would hire a les­bian to play straight in a film? Like, who’s gonna be­lieve me now?’ But once I got over that fear and I trusted my pub­li­cist and my man­ager, and es­pe­cially my fam­ily and friends, the amount of sup­port I’ve got­ten is just in­cred­i­ble. And you know what? There prob­a­bly have been op­por­tu­ni­ties that I haven’t got be­cause of my sex­u­al­ity, or I get judged for it, but I just think, ‘Those aren’t the peo­ple I need to sur­round my­self with’. I made that choice, and it’s been the best one I could’ve made.

You’ve starred in a num­ber of Dis­ney movies in your ca­reer, but the com­pany has faced a lot of crit­i­cism for its lack of LGBTQ rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Do you think they need to im­prove?

I would def­i­nitely love to see some im­prove­ment, of course. I know there have been some projects where there has been a char­ac­ter who’s gay and they haven’t been picked up, like a pi­lot or some­thing. I don’t know if that’s the rea­son, but yeah, I def­i­nitely think there needs to be more di­ver­sity. There are so many chil­dren stru™ling with be­ing LGBTQ, and when you watch some­body on TV who’s just like you, es­pe­cially at that young age, you’re able to make sense of it, and get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of who you are. Like, ‘Oh, I’m not crazy, I’m not dif­fer­ent, I’m the same as this per­son and they’re on TV’. I def­i­nitely would love to see a bit more di­ver­sity in the Dis­ney world.

A lot of peo­ple have been call­ing for Elsa from Frozen to get a girl­friend. Do you think it’s time we had a gay Dis­ney princess?

Oh my gosh, yeah! I was just talk­ing about this to [my wife] Jeka, and I think it would be the coolest thing. I def­i­nitely think that Elsa is gay and that Let It Go is our gay anthem. I think that would be so cool if she got a girl­friend. And what’s so great about that film is that Elsa is a queen, but she doesn’t need a king, and so it left that door open.

Hav­ing gone through it your­self, what would your mes­sage be for as­pir­ing ac­tors who are in the closet and wor­ried about com­ing out?

I would tell any­body who’s go­ing through that – what­ever in­dus­try you’re in – to take it at your own pace. If you’re feel­ing pres­sured to come out, don’t do it. If you’re feel­ing scared, don’t do it. When it’s your time, you’ll be ready, and I feel like the more con­fi­dent you are in telling some­body, the more con­fi­dent some­body is go­ing to take it. If you apol­o­gise for be­ing your­self, you’re open­ing the door for peo­ple to say it’s wrong or to ques­tion you. Just know that you’re not alone, there’s so many peo­ple like us out there, and you may be the role model for the per­son sit­ting next to you, you have no idea. Your story is just as im­por­tant as the per­son you look up to.

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