Leading Man
Bridgerton actor Jonathan Bailey no longer hides his sexuality.

Bridgerton's Jonathan Bailey Once Thought He Had To "Be Straight" To Be Successful

Homophobia? In this economy?

Liam Daniel/Netflix

Jonathan Bailey’s storied acting career has landed him on the sets of many beloved productions, as Olly Stevens on ITV’s Broadchurch, Ash on Micaela Coel’s Chewing Gum, and, of course, Lord Anthony Bridgerton on Shonda Rhimes' Bridgerton. Now that the 33-year-old actor is preparing to take the reins as the star of the Netflix show’s second season, Bailey has opened up about how he spent years during his early career trying to conceal his sexuality, convinced that he would never be successful in his industry if he were openly gay.

In a GQ interview published Wednesday, March 9, Bailey shared that, although he’d come out to family and friends in his 20s, he was afraid that he would face discrimination if he were to come out in professional settings as well. He said that much of his anxiety stemmed from advice that had been given to one of his actor friends, who later relayed it back to him.

“At the time, [my friend] was told, ‘There’s two things we don’t want to know: if you’re an alcoholic or if you’re gay,’” Bailey recalled to GQ. “All it takes is for one of those people in that position of power to say that, and it ripples through. So, yeah, of course I thought that. Of course I thought that in order to be happy I needed to be straight.”


Those secondhand words apparently had a devastating impact on him as a hopeful, young actor, fearing that his sexuality might get in the way of his ambitious plans to make it in show business. He shared his early career ambitions with GQ: “In 20 years, you don’t want to be famous,” he said. “You want a sustained career.”

But in recent years, Bailey’s changed his tune. “I reached a point where I thought, ‘F*ck this, I’d much prefer to hold my boyfriend’s hand in public or be able to put my own face picture on Tinder and not be so concerned about that than getting a part,” he explained during the interview.

Though he tends to keep his personal life private, Bailey was most recently linked to a man named James Ellis. The two have been spotted out on dates in London, and they shared a kiss at the 2019 Olivier Awards when Bailey won Best Actor In A Supporting Role In A Musical for his performance in the 2018 West End revival of Company.

This GQ interview isn’t the first time Bailey has spoken out about this issue. In March 2021, he chatted with the Evening Standard about the “history of needing to be closeted to succeed and be famous, especially in acting.”

He emphatically dismissed “the idea of not being able to believe heterosexual relations and narrative if you know one of the actors is gay,” noting, “Everyone should be able to play absolutely everything.”

And when all is said and done, Bridgerton fans can attest: No matter his sexual orientation, Bailey is one hot lord. Bring on Season Two, baby.