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To say Wentworth Miller struggled with his sexuality is putting it mildly.
The 41-year-old former "Prison Break" star, who came out publicly last month, has revealed he tried to commit suicide "more than once" as a young man coming to terms with his sexual orientation.
"The first time I tried to kill myself I was 15," "The Loft" actor said at the Human Rights Campaign gala at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel on Saturday. "I waited until my family went away for the weekend and I was alone in the house, and I swallowed a bottle of pills. I don't remember what happened over the next couple of days, but I'm pretty sure come Monday morning I was on the bus back to school pretending everything was fine. And when someone asked me if that was a cry for help, I say no, because I told no one.
"Growing up I was a target," continued Miller, who spent his early years in Brooklyn, New York, before moving to the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he finished high school. "Speaking the right way, standing the right way, holding your wrist the right way... Every day was a test and there was a thousand ways to fail. A thousand ways to portray yourself to not live up to someone else's standards of what was accepted."
Miller started landing acting roles in 1998, appearing in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Popular," and "Time of Your Life." But he was too nervous to share his sexual orientation beyond his trusted inner circle, worrying it would hurt his career.
"I had multiple opportunities to speak my truth, which is that I was gay, but I chose not to," he said. "I was out privately to family and friends — publicly, I was not. I chose to lie — when I thought about the possibility of coming out, how that might impact me and the career I worked so hard for, I was filled with fear."
But he pushed his fears aside in August when he went public with being a gay man when he rejected an invitation to a film festival in Russia, where a bill banning the promotion of gay "propaganda" was passed, which mandates fines — and jail terms — for violators.
"As a gay man, I must decline," Miller wrote to the organizers of the St. Petersburg International Film Festival. "I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government."
While it took the actor a long time to get to where he is today, sharing his struggle publicly now will help other young people whose daily lives are a struggle and worry they can't live up to someone else's standards of what is accepted.
Find out more about the Human Rights Campaign.
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