Out actor Sean Hayes on Monday
expressed regret over not coming out sooner.
Hayes, 46, won an Emmy Award and four
SAG Awards for his portrayal of Jack McFarland on the NBC comedy Will
& Grace. The show was the first prime time network sitcom to
feature a gay lead (Eric McCormack's uptight gay lawyer Will) and has
been credited for increasing acceptance of LGBT rights. Despite
playing a gay character on television, Hayes did not publicly come
out until 2010, four years after Will & Grace ended its
On Monday, The Legacy Awards, which
benefit the Outfest UCLA Archives Legacy Project, honored Hayes with
its Trailblazer Award.
“I was a young closeted actor having
his first taste of a little success and unfortunately, in my mind, my
lucky break was inextricably tied to me thinking that I had to stay
in the closet in order to keep moving forward,” Hayes said in
accepting his award.
“When it comes to night’s like
tonight and honors like this, I’m consumed with what I didn’t
“I know I should’ve come out sooner
and I’m sorry for that. Especially when I think about the
possibility that I might have made a difference in someone’s life.
I would probably be able to sleep a lot better than I do if I had
acted sooner, but such is life. We learn our lessons only when we are
“Today I stand before you as a proud
gay man and I humbly accept this award on behalf of all of us,”