OUT Magazine: Zachary Quinto

In Out’s October cover story, actor Zachary Quinto opens up.
“One of the most defining conversations that I had with myself was that absolutely no good can come from me staying quiet about [my sexuality]. Literally, no good can come from it. But if I take the step to make the acknowledgment and be honest, so much good could potentially come from it,” Quinto tells Aaron Hicklin.
Quinto also confirms that he is currently sharing his life with actor Jonathan Groff. He does draw a line in talking about his private life, but he reveals: “I’m incredibly happy, I’m incredibly lucky.”

Read the full story, “Star Man,” here.

Does he regret not taking the opportunity to set the record straight in a 2010 New York Times interview, when he deflected a reporter by saying he wasn’t interested in discussing his sleeping arrangements? “No, not at all, absolutely not, because I wouldn’t have initiated it,” he says. “I knew very fundamentally, inside, that it had to be initiated and executed by me, and me alone.” This turns out to be something of a recurring theme: generating initiative, being prepared, taking control -- in short, owning it. When he came out to his mother, it was from a similar sense of imperative.
“I needed it to happen,” he says. “Otherwise, I couldn’t move forward authentically. Ultimately, I think the only thing that really drives me in life, continually, is a pursuit of authenticity of experience -- of myself.”

Quinto has been talking about doing more theater, and is in the midst of extolling the genius of John Cameron Mitchell’s East German transgender singer, Hedwig — a role he has a burning ambition to play on stage — when I feel compelled to interrupt.
“That’s surprising to me,” I say.
“Why are you surprised by that?”
“Because Hedwig is so unequivocally queer in its sensibilities, not just gay.”
“I love that about it — it spoke to that part of me, that queer part of me that doesn’t always have the chance to express or reveal itself,” he replies. “That’s what excites me as an artist.”

Right now, the man he is sharing his life with is the actor Jonathan Groff, and although this is where he draws the line between what’s private and what’s public, he says, “I’m incredibly happy, I’m incredibly lucky,” and we agree to leave it there.
Quinto says that lately he’s learned to slow down just a little. “I was never able to stop and just think, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for,” he says. “In the last year, I’ve gotten to a point where I feel so fulfilled, even though it doesn’t stop me from wanting to expand on that and do other things.”

Although Quinto says he’s chosen not to let his father’s death define him negatively, he thinks the loss he experienced found expression in his early relationships. “I found myself in a pattern of being attracted to people who were somehow unavailable, and what I realized was that I was protecting myself because I equated the idea of connection and love with trauma and death,” he says. “I had to do a lot of work on the couch to really get to a place where I was able to show up to a relationship with someone who was actually capable of being in one — and that took a lot of trial and error. And I’m still working on all that stuff — that will never stop. But I definitely want kids… I want to share.” 

In the last six months he has expended a lot of energy campaigning for Obama, and his Twitter feed (more than half a million followers) reads like a daily call-to-action. He considers the election in November the most important in his lifetime. “It boggles my mind that there are so many extreme, Christian organizations that are adopting a stance against homosexuality with such vitriol and hatred and targeted aggression that goes against the tenets of the Christian faith,” he says. “The hatred that people are leading with in this discussion is really, for me, the biggest symptom of how sick we are. It’s the thing that makes me look at our culture and think, We are so far afield of any sort of connectivity or truth in relationship to one another.” He pauses. “I don’t want this to be too soapboxy,” he says.

Quinto is supremely self-aware, perhaps as a result of losing his father to cancer at the age of seven and having to renegotiate his relationship to the world. Although he describes his childhood fondly, in idyllic terms -- “running around in the woods, and playing on my bike, setting out on adventures” -- it’s clear that his father’s death threw his world off balance. “As well-intentioned as my family was, and our immediate friends, I don’t think anyone knew how to talk to a seven-year-old at that time,” he says. “My mother was, understandably, eviscerated, and my brother, who was 14, was impacted in a very different way, because he was at the pinnacle of fishing trips and camping trips with my dad.”

One unexpected and happy consequence of playing Spock has been Quinto’s relationship with Leonard Nimoy, who had a cameo in the 2009 film. “I have such deep admiration and love for him,” Quinto says. “He’s an incredible man, and I’m so grateful that not only did I have this amazing creative experience, but that I developed this relationship with Leonard and his wife, Susan -- we go to dinner, we hang out, we go to the theater, we spend time together.”

Often he thinks about the life his father led. “He was really, really badass and confident and sexy and intelligent and sensitive and curious,” he says. “For years after he died, people would go out of their way to let me know how much he meant to them. And every time I heard it I was always so grateful to him for living that life. Now that I’m older, I know it’s because that’s what matters -- the things people can tell your child about you -- and I realize my father gave something really special to me even though he wasn’t here to give it to me in person.”