Actor Colton Haynes, 32, has shared an old photo to his Instagram that he spent years trying to get wiped from the internet.
By Rubin van Nieker & Alan Samons
The images are from a photoshoot he did when he was 17 and working as a model and shows him entwined with his male model boyfriend at the time, Gareth.
They are both gorgeous and shirtless and these homoerotic images that includes a smouldering kiss are incredibly sexy. They featured on the cover of the March 2006 edition of gay magazine, XY magazine.
Haynes says he was posting the throwback image now to reclaim it and to stop feeling ashamed or embarrassed by it. Though he was a teenager, the image was used with a signed model release and parental consent, as is standard.
“I’ve never posted this picture before. In fact, I spent a big part of my career trying to erase it from the internet while I was still in the closet,” he said.
“Partly because so many ppl in Hollywood told me I would never work as an openly gay actor, but part of it was because I was incredibly ashamed. It made me sad to see these pictures I had taken as a 15 yr. old model…before I was placed with voice & movement coaches to straighten me up for the cameras…before I learned to see my queerness as a liability. I was jealous of him. The boy in these pictures was so open, so free. He had to be taught that it wasn’t ok to be who he was.
“Being gay is worth celebrating. I wish I’d figured that out sooner, but I’m so glad I know it now. To everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community, I hope you celebrate yourselves this month & always, exactly as you are ❤️”
In 2016, Haynes spoke about his hypocrisy about that infamous XY cover shoot in GAYNRD (“This was, like, the cover of Vogue for me. I was like, ‘This is it! I’m going to be in a magazine!’ I truly thought it was going to be this serious moment in my career.”) and his PR team’s efforts to scrub the photos from the Internet once his star began to rise (GAYNRD were even threatened with legal action if they ran the photos). Haynes says he worried about how that was perceived by the LGBT community: “I looked like I was fucking gay-bashing,” he says. “Like I hated myself or I hated the gays, which was never the intention at all. I was just young and trying to make it in this town and doing what these people were telling me to do.”
That same year, Haynes said in an article for EW where he came out, that he “wasn’t ready” to do so earlier. There were a lot of remaining questions, including Haynes’s photo shoot for the March 2006 issue of XY magazine, where he’s engaging in some heavy, half-naked making out with his then-boyfriend. He more pointedly addresses what happened in the Out profile, saying that at 17, he was thrilled to do that photo shoot. Haynes said. “I truly thought it was going to be this serious moment in my career, and I knew it would earn me enough money to get to L.A.”
“I feel really bad that I had to lie for so long,” Haynes said. “But I was told that was the only way I was going to be successful. When you’re young in this industry, people take advantage of you, and they literally tell you that your dreams are going to come true. If you believe that, you’ll do anything. And you do believe it, especially if you’re from Kansas.”
In the ensuing aftermath of the photoshoot, Haynes’ manager dumped him like a hot potato when he learned Haynes was gay, and afterward, told him to advertise on RentBoy.com, an escort website, as a way to earn money.
Haynes, who was born in Kansas, came out aged 14 and experienced bullying because of his sexuality. At first his mother reacted badly, and he tried to run away from home.
He found wider fame first in MTV’s Teen Wolf and then in the series Arrow. When Teen Wolf first aired in 2011, the XY photos began to crop up on Tumblr and other internet sites.
In January 2016, a fan posted on Tumblr, “When I found out Colton Haynes had a secret gay past I got so excited even though I know it makes absolutely no difference in my life”. Haynes responded on his personal Tumblr, saying, “Was it a secret? Let’s all just enjoy life & have no regrets :)”
Haynes later came out in a more official manner via an interview with Entertainment Weekly in May 2016. Since then, Haynes has been more open and honest about his life, including talking about his previous problems with substance and alcohol abuse.
As a publication for young gay and bisexual men, XY has sometimes had a difficult time attracting advertisers, and often ran editorials on the topic. Another controversy involved XY’s longtime Managing Editor, Michael Glatze, who left the magazine in 2001, co-edited the “XY Survival Guide” in 2003, and in 2007 announced that he no longer identified as a homosexual, and denounced homosexuality. He is now a conservative Christian who opposes gay rights.
His Instagram image prompted almost half a million likes in less than 12 hours. Billy Eichner posted “❤️❤️❤️” in response, and Charlie Carver also dropped “💕”. Actor Jonathan Bennett responded, “This is so powerful. I feel you Buddy. Love who you were then and love who you are now. 👏👏👏”.
Singer Keke Palmer said, “I thank you for posting this and hate what you went through but so glad it’s made you a vessel to cast out the darkness with truth and light!! 😍❤️”, while Michelle Visage replied, “LOUD AND PROUD, BABY”.
XY magazine made a name for itself when it first appeared in the late 1990s by highlighting stories of interest to young, gay readers. When asked if XY staff knew Colton’s age when it featured the photos of him in 2006, its founder and editor, Peter Ian Cummings said in a statement to Queerty: “Colton was not 15 when he modeled for XY, he was 17. Colton’s photos have a signed model release signed by his parent, which is industry practice for minors who model. His ex-boyfriend Gareth also signed a model release.”