You Go, Daniel Franzese: 'Mean Girls' Star Shares Coming Out Letter He Wrote to Damian
On April 30, the now-iconic, infinitely re-quotable ("she doesn't even go here!") movie Mean Girls turns 10-years-old. For fans of the Tina Fey-penned comedy, Mean Girls means a lot of things. It could be a bonding tool with friends, a coping tool with bullies (every school has their own Regina George), or it could just be your favorite movie of all-time that you haven't seemed to tire of watching after a decade. But for one of the stars of the film, Daniel Franzese, who plays the lovable and hilarious sidekick Damian, Mean Girls means something much more significant. In an open letter that Franzese penned to his beloved character Damian and has now shared with IndieWire.com, the 35-year-old actor has revealed publicly for the first time that he is gay and that playing his part in Mean Girls helped him get to this place in his life.
In the touching and heartfelt letter, which you can (and should) read in full here, Franzese opens up about his initial fear and resistance to not only play a character as "proud" as Damian, but one that was "a natural and true representation of a gay teenager." (He also gives kudos to Fey for writing such an awesome character.) While Franzese admits that he tried to hide his identity as a gay man hidden from Hollywood for years, particularly after the high-profile success of Mean Girls, he was touched by the many fans who told him how much that character meant to them.
Though the actor — who revealed he will be the Celebrity Grand Marshall of the 2014 Portland Gay Pride Parade — admits he had the "perfect opportunity" to come out in 2004, he says he is no longer hiding the real Daniel Franzese from people and that's thanks to Damian. "It took YOU to teach me how to be proud of myself again," he writes. "It’s okay if no one wants to sit at the table with the 'art freaks.' Being a queer artist is one of my favorite things about myself. I have always been different and that's rad... Perhaps this will help someone else. I had to remind myself that my parents named me Daniel because it means 'God is my judge.' So, I’m not afraid anymore. Of Hollywood, the closet or mean girls. Thank you for that, Damian. (And Tina.)"
While the letter is bound to make you teary-eyed, there are some Mean Girls references littered throughout guaranteed to make you smile, too. In addition to a Glen Coco shout-out and a nod to Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" (Damian's song of choice during the winter talent show), Franzese closes out the letter with the significance of one of the movie's most memorable lines. Franzese writes to Damian, "I hate it when people say I’m 'too gay to function.' I know you do, too. Those people are part of the problem. They should refrain from using that phrase. It really is ONLY okay when Janis says it." That, right there, is so fetch.