'Playboy Club's' Sean Maher on coming out: 'It feels fantastic'
"It feels fantastic. The response has been overwhelming," Maher says. "Much greater than I even expected. I kind of can't keep up with the influx, the amounts of calls, Twitter, everyone has just been incredibly supportive. Not that I'm surprised, but I think I didn't expect the grand scale of things. It feels like it's my birthday or something. It kind of is my birthday, I guess."
What prompted Maher's decision to come out now is that his character on "The Playboy Club," created by Chad Hodge, is a closeted homosexual in 1963 and part of an underground group called the Mattachine Society.
"I think I had decided before this role came along that I would [come out], but the role couldn't have been a more perfect platform to do it," says Maher. "I was blown away because I had no knowledge of the Mattachine. I didn't know of any homophile movements pre-Stonewall. I was intrigued as a gay man and an actor."
The Stonewall incident Maher references is a riot in New York's Greenwich Village on June, 28 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar that was raided by the police. It is considered one of the first times homosexuals rose up against the government-sanctioned persecution against them.
"I didn't know anything pre-Stonewall and I think our impressions of Stonewall are very use-of-force and more energy, and the Mattachine was very underground and covert in many ways. There was something extremely intriguing about that to me as an actor."
The platform presented to Maher via "The Playboy Club" storyline was just the catalyst of something he and his partner had talked about doing for some time.
"I had discussed with my partner that eventually this was something that I wanted to do, I wanted to step out publicly, declare my homosexuality and the family that we had created," says Maher. "I didn't know what platform it was going to be, but just reading Chad's pilot - it was almost too perfect."
The family of which Sean speaks is his long-time partner Paul and their two children, Sophia Rose, 4, and Liam Xavier, 14 months. Since gay marriage is such a hot-button topic in this country, we were curious if Sean and Paul were now looking to tie to the knot.
"... Yes ..., " he says, hesitantly, and laughs.
"I feel like we're married in every other sense of the word. Obviously, financially and we have two children," Sean continues. "There was a fleeting moment in California where everybody was rushing to get married and we decided not to do it then because we didn't want to rush to get it done. We wanted to focus on it more and make it more of an event. We would like to eventually, but we have not made any definitive plans."
Catch Sean in an all-new "Playboy Club" Monday night, Sept. 26, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. He also told us his role in the show continues to grow - look for another piece after tonight's episode airs.