At 82 years old, Cabaret Oscar winner Joel Grey has come out as a gay man.
“I don’t like labels,” Grey told People magazine, “but if you have to put a label on it, I’m a gay man.”
Grey, who was married to actress Jo Wilder for 24 years and has two children, didn’t keep the secret from his family or friends, but had never spoken about it publicly.
“All the people close to me have known for years who I am,” he said. “[Yet] it took time to embrace that other part of who I always was.”
His daughter, Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey, said she has happy for her father.
“[He] has come to a point in his life where he feels safe and comfortable enough to declare himself in a public way as a gay man.”
Grey had difficulty coming out for years because of his upbringing in Cleveland, Ohio. As the son of actor-comedian Mickey Katz, Grey said he remembers “hearing the grownups talk in the next room, my mother included, talking derisively about ‘fairies’ and men being dragged off to jail and even worse for being who they were.”
When he came into the entertainment business, Grey said sexuality wasn’t talked about.
“It was hidden,” Grey said. “It was held against you. It was really dreadful. It could have finished a career if anyone knew. So everyone was very, very careful and fearful about it.”
Grey called Neil Patrick Harris one of his heroes.
“Neil Patrick Harris is a star in every way,” he said. “And he’s a dad. He’s the most gifted, charming, talented actor who is himself, and that’s it. There are no limits. He’s just excellent at everything, and he is totally who he is.”