Keiynan Lonsdale Talks Life After Coming Out And Living Authentically
He starred in a major motion picture and two network series, then he decided he wanted to find himself.
On the afternoon ten daily met up with Keiynan Lonsdale to talk about Love, Simon, he had casually hopped onto social media to confirm he would be stepping down as series regular from The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.
Since 2015 Lonsdale had played Wally West (aka Kid Flash) in Flash, making the jump across to the spin-off, Legends, in 2017. In June, he described the move away from both CW series as "not a total goodbye or 'see ya never' situation, cause Wally West will still be 'round when you need him the most".
Lonsdale wrote that in the past year he had changed a lot. Sitting in front him, now silver-haired and back in his hometown of Sydney, he reflected on the year he'd had.
For someone like Lonsdale, saying that he's "changed" feels cheap. He exudes a kaleidoscopic spiritualism that make it feel better suited to describe his last year as transformative.
In May last year, Lonsdale again took the direct approach, coming out on Instagram.
"I like to change my hair," the 26-year-old captioned an image, "I like to take risks with how I dress, I like girls, & I like guys (yes), I like growing, I like learning, I like who I am and I really like who I'm becoming."
Coming out in Hollywood is still a relatively rare occurrence, with many stars believing clinging to a facade of heteronormativity to be a necessary security measure for their career.
Lonsdale told ten daily that the stigma around coming out was something that worried him deeply. Already out to friends and family back in Australia, his growing career in the States prompted him to force himself back in the closet.
"I was like, 'Damn now it's on a bigger scale and it's scarier', but once I made the decision, which was like five minutes before I had come out, then I did it."
"It was like I was a robot. I wrote the Instagram post and it was out and then there was nothing. No fear. I didn't care about what anyone thought, I just did it for me."
Making the decision came just weeks after production had wrapped on Love, Simon -- a collaboration with his Flash showrunner Greg Berlanti who directed the film, the first mainstream LGBTQ rom-com to be released by a major studio.
The film stars Lonsdale alongside Nick Robinson as Simon, a young gay teen struggling with living in the closet. Despite being aimed at teens, the film resonated with the wider LGBTQ community and was lauded for its depiction of same-sex relationships in a mainstream film.
Even with the accepting nature of the film and the cast and crew, Lonsdale waited until the last days of filming to come out to the Love, Simon cast.
While Robinson's Simon was grappling with the repercussions of coming out to those closest to him onscreen, Lonsdale did the same with his crew offscreen.
In the film, Jennifer Garner plays Simon's mum, and in a moment that's both heartbreaking and reaffirming all at once she tells Simon, "You get to exhale now... you get to be more you than you have been in a very long time".
If Simon exhaled, Lonsdale breathed life into colour.
"I spent enough time in my life lying to people and holding things back from fans just out of fear that they wouldn’t accept me, or like me or love me," he told ten daily.
"I have no problem sharing because, what do I have to hide? Or what do I have to hold on to or protect?"
Lonsdale identifies as queer, and enjoys pushes the boundaries of what fashion can be, applying a masculinity to a free-flowing genderlessness.
Last month he and Robinson were nominated for and won the MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss. During the acceptance speech, Lonsdale spoke to younger generations to live their truth.
"I just want to say to every kid: If you can live your dream and wear dresses, you can live your dreams and kiss the one that you love, no matter what gender they are."
"You can live your dreams and you can believe in magic. You can live your dreams and you can be yourself."
Now, Lonsdale looks to the future and can only see opportunity. Stepping away from Wally West was a way to unshackle himself from responsibility and to explore his own freedom of expression.
"I love my job, I love working hard, and I love acting and I’ll continue to do that."
"I’ve had really great experiences on the show but I no longer felt like it was right for me to be on set for 10 months of the year and continue that for more years because I knew that I’m the kind of person -- or I’ve become the kind of person -- that wants to wake up and say like, 'I’m going to run away today'."
Regardless of where he plans to run, Lonsdale will continue to create, to inspire, and to be unabashedly himself. He just hopes you know that too.
"It’s almost too good to be true and I have to pinch myself a lot of the time like yeah, this is real, you are being yourself, you are living your dreams and you can have it all."
"Everyone can have it."
Love, Simon is now available to buy or rent on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital.