When looking for good queer role models we need to call the Doctor. Doctor Who? Yes. Captain Jack the 51st century companion of the Doctor played by John Barrowman is out and proud of his sexuality, wants to have children and is out-spoken on gay marriage.
Barrowman is open and relaxed when talking about his sexuality. "I've known I was gay since the age of eight or nine," he says. "Back then, though, it was more a feeling that there was something different about me than perhaps specifically knowing what that was. But what's the big deal? I'm 38, I work in musical theatre and I live with another guy. It's the 21st century: we're all human beings and individuals. If someone has a problem with it ? Well, they can go and piss off. I don't want to be around them."
That said, he was 22 before he came out to his parents, making a special trip to
Barrowman pauses, his eyes earnest. While he wears his heart on his sleeve, he also points out that, personally, he doesn't feel the need for deliberately public displays of sexuality. He is an ardent supporter of the Gay Pride movement and everything it stands for, but explains: "My parents have always brought us up to believe that sex and sexuality are something to be proud of, and you don't have to flaunt it if you don't want to. People don't walk around with a banner saying they're straight, so why should I walk around with one saying I'm gay? I understand there are people who want to and need to make that statement, and I appreciate that, but don't come down on me because I'm not one of them."
Gay marriage is another topic guaranteed to raise his hackles. "OK, this is where I get political," he says. "People keep asking me if I'm going to do it. The answer is no. I was brought up in a family which believed there was a God who created us. I believe that God created me this way for a reason and he's not a god who hates, dislikes or is against the way I live my life.
"That said, there is organized religion that says gay men and women are wrong, bad, evil ? whatever you want to call it. So why would I want a 'marriage' from a belief system that hates me?"
Barrowman has been with his partner Scott Gill, an architect, for 14 years. Both of them, he says, want to have children (although Barrowman admits "I'm more keen than Scott is"), and have discussed adoption and surrogacy as potential options. A friend has offered to be a surrogate mother for the couple. "I'm best friends with her mother, and the woman herself has known me like a brother since she was five," says Barrowman. "We've spent many days and vacations together." Yet he is deliberately sketchy on the details. She's 28, American and a dental hygienist, and is married with one-year-old twins. Her husband has also given the green light to the plan. "She's said that when we're ready, just send her an e-mail," says Barrowman.
While he won't rule out adoption, it's clear he views surrogacy as the more appealing option. "I'd very much like to have a child of my own," he says. "Scott and I have talked about it and said that if we decide to use a surrogate mother, we would mix the sperm so we wouldn't actually know whose the child was and it would still be part of both of us." The only thing his friend has asked for in return, he says, is that he would take care of her mortgage while she was off work. "I said of course I would."
He and 42-year-old Gill, whom he describes as "looking like an Armani model", met when Barrowman was in a play at the Chichester Festival Theatre, shortly before his Live and Kicking debut. A mutual friend had coaxed Gill to the play by telling him that Barrowman was naked for the first seven minutes. "I always joke that he saw what he getting from the outset," the actor says. And it was love at first sight ? well, almost.
"Scott came into the dressing room while I was getting dressed," says Barrowman. "I was bending over to pull my pants up, so the first thing he saw was my bare bum. Then I turned around and saw him. At that very instant, in my head, I said, 'That's him. That's the one.' And he says he was thinking the exact same thing.” Though he proved a big hit in Doctor Who, Barrowman's Captain Jack will not appear in the fervently awaited Christmas special, starring Billie Piper alongside David Tennant as the new Doctor. Yet he hardly seems broken-hearted, and is full of assurances that he will return to the show in the future ? hinting it could be sooner rather than later. "I will be coming back," he says. "But no date has been set. That's the official answer." He gives an exaggerated wink before collapsing in laughter.
Either way, there's little doubt his role in Doctor Who has been a career high so far. "It was an absolute dream come true," he says. "I believe everyone should have a goal and a dream. That was one of mine. As a child I used to dream of appearing in Doctor Who, but I never thought it would happen. I was cast at the beginning, at the same time as Billie [Piper] and Chris [Eccleston], but I had to keep my mouth shut for nine months. I couldn't tell anyone other than close family. My niece was shopping with me in
A Few Good Men is at the Theatre Royal,