Wayne Brady says he combatted 'fear and shame' before coming out as pansexual: ‘Now I feel free’

Since coming out, Brady says he "can show up anywhere at any time with anyone and be nothing but proud about it."

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 14: Wayne Brady attends the 35th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton on March 14, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steven Simione/WireImage)
Wayne Brady is opening up about the self-worth he's gained since coming out as pansexual. (Steven Simione/WireImage)

Wayne Brady is embracing a new chapter.

Since coming out as pansexual, an attraction to people regardless of their gender or sexual identity, the actor and host of CBS’s long-running game show Let’s Make a Deal says he feels as if a “weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”

“When I came out pansexual, I was doing it for myself,” Brady, 51, tells Yahoo Entertainment. “I was doing it so that my self-worth and my own opinions weren’t blanketed by feeling like I had a secret or I had something that was bad or something that was dirty, or made me less than. So now I feel free.”

Feelings of “fear and shame,” which he’s battled since childhood, began to disappear once he came out.

“I can show up anywhere at any time with anyone and be nothing but proud about it,” Brady says. “That's one of the first steps in life towards being happy, and I've worked a long time toward trying to make myself happy. It's a goal we all should have no matter who you are or where you come from. That's your human right.”

With that came a newfound sense of worth and value that enriched other aspects of Brady’s life.

“Now that I'm free and I don't care what anyone thinks, it just opened up this door in my creative soul. It's even opened up a little bit of a door in how I move through the world,” he says. “I don't owe anyone anything, whether it's financially sharing within my pocket, or sharing who I share my life with. I don't owe anyone that, but I want to share that because I want to be able to inspire them to make a difference. If my story can inspire a young, Black queer person, or inspire anybody sitting in their house going through the same thing, that's a form of generosity.”

Brady is paying it forward in a new partnership with the banking app Chime’s “Pay Progress Forward” experiment.

In the experiment, Brady offers participants the amount of money needed to achieve their financial goals. Then they’re given two options: Take home double the amount they were given, or take only what they need and give the other half to someone else in a similar financial situation.

In Chime's
In Chime's "Pay Progress Forward" experiment, Wayne Brady gives participants the option of either doubling their money or giving the other half to those in need. (Chime)

“I know what it feels like to not have anything and not be able to plan for the future,” explains Brady, who once had his car repossessed because he couldn’t afford payments. A few years later, the money he earned from his TV work afforded him an opportunity to buy his mom the childhood house he grew up in.

“I've gone from being in a relationship of scarcity and chasing money, to learning how to make my money work for me,” he says.

Teaching financial literacy is a passion for Brady, and it’s what gives him the most joy hosting Let’s Make a Deal for the last 15 years.

“I tell people on the show, ‘Hey, if $50, if $100, if $500 in my hand can affect you right now and change your situation, take it, because your peace of mind is the most important piece and it can be very affected by the financial part of it,” he explains.

Brady says he’s never felt more creative, more artistic and more secure in who he is than he does now. He’s also never been busier.

LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 16:  Host Wayne Brady (center) as '˜Dr. Wayne'™ cues the opening of the curtain both Kevin and Danielle Card watch, on a special Publishers Clearing House edition of Let'™s Make a Deal airing Wednesday, October 10 (checking local listings) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
Brady has hosted Let's Make a Deal for 15 seasons. (Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)

In addition to his game-show hosting duties, he’s working on an upcoming Hulu docuseries addressing race, inequality and LGBTQ issues. Starting April 17, he’ll be on Broadway in The Wiz. He’s also writing a one-man show, which has found new meaning since coming out in August 2023.

“I've been writing it for the past few years and I didn't understand why I had this writer's block,” he says of the one-man show. “I couldn't move past a certain point because there was a whole chapter in my life that I couldn't share because I wasn't being open about it.”

For Brady, self-awareness and ownership is vital to living a happy life.

“As long as I'm OK, as long as I have a place to lay my head, as long as I don't wake up in the morning with that debilitating, heart-beating, sweat-inducing fear, I know I’ll be fine,” he says.