Dynasty star Rafael de la Fuente has opened up about how he came out at 20 years old. Speaking in a Pride chat with trans actress Ivory Aquino, he explained that it took him many years to finally be true to himself as he struggled to feel comfortable about being gay.

“I always knew [I was gay] from a very young age,” he said. “I always felt what I felt inside of me was a little bit different than what was considered normal. When I was very young, probably around five or four, I identified male, but I didn’t have that separation of, like, this is boys’ stuff and this is girls’ stuff and I am supposed to like boys’ stuff. I liked everything. I liked to play with my girl cousin, I like to play with my Barbies. I liked to play sport with my boy friends. I had more girl crushes than boy crushes, but this was at four or five.”

View this post on Instagram

lighting test . . . @pablocostanzo

A post shared by Rafael De La Fuente (@rafaeldlf) on

However, Rafael, who plays the hilarious Sammy Jo in the Netflix smash hit, says that he found out soon enough that expressing himself in certain ways that felt natural to him didn’t always sit well with others. “I remember having a situation with my dad when one of my older cousins, who was a girl, painted my nails and I very proudly went to tell my dad, but he was very upset and he yelled at me and said “no, that that was for girls’. that was the first moment I felt shame. But then when I was older, in my teenage years, I had feelings for boys and I immediately suppressed them. I never really told myself ‘I’m gay’. not even in my head. I would suppress it. Until I was 20 when I came out.”

 

Rafael went on to explain that during his time at uni, he was endured mental heath issues because he found it a hard time to feel comfortable enough to admit to himself he was gay1 “I was in college. I was super depressed because I knew that life wasn’t working out for me,” he says. “The way I was living my life wasn’t authentic and it wasn’t working. I didn’t feel joy or any happiness. I felt trapped, I felt like small little shadow of myself.”

He admits that when he started to find out about other people’s coming out stories online, he gradually began to feel the confidence to come out. “I started watching a lot of videos of people telling their coming out stories,” he recalls. “I grew up in Venezuela and where I grew up in the late 90s. I didn’t grow up around any gay people that I knew were out. There were no representation of LGBTQ people in the media – it was all mockery and stereotypes and shells. Nothing real. Nothing you related to. Nothing that was aspirational in any way. Characters you would laugh at, not with. They were the characters you made fun at. I didn’t have anyone gay I could look up to.”

Luckily, hearing about other people like him and their happy stories helped him finally come out. “When I was about to graduate, I started looking up people telling their coming out stories and I started to see gay people being happy and successful, talking about things I had felt. Therefore I felt less of an alien and not as alone. And that it was possible to feel the way I felt and be okay and be successful and have a family.”

View this post on Instagram

R E P R E S E N T A T I O N M A T T E R S . It has been the honor and privilege of my life giving a voice and a face to my community through my work. . We are not to be treated as stereotypes, jokes or empty shells. We are NOT one dimensional. We are not the “other”. WE ARE YOU AND YOU ARE US. As HUMANS we all feel pain, we all feel joy, we all feel heartache, we all feel love, but most importantly WE ALL WANT TO BE SEEN. . LGBTQ people are complex, fascinating and deserving of the same amount of opportunities, and the same amount of platforms to tell our stories. . Regardless of our shared queer experience, we all have different struggles within our community. White gay men have privilege over black gay men, immigrant gay, bi and lesbian people deal with different issues than their American-born counter parts. . RACISM IS REAL WITHIN THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY AND WE MUST ADDRESS IT IMMEDIATELY. We know the pain of discrimination so we should know better… . WE MUST UPLIFT EACH OTHER, EMPATHIZE WITH EACH OTHER. . GIVE SPACE TO BLACK AND BROWN QUEER VOICES. . UPLIFT OUR TRANS BROTHERS AND SISTERS. #pridemonth . Just some thoughts… Love, R

A post shared by Rafael De La Fuente (@rafaeldlf) on

In a more recent instagram post Rafael spork about how proud he was of being able to represent LGBTQ+ people on screen. “It has been the honor and privilege of my life giving a voice and a face to my community through my work. We are not to be treated as stereotypes, jokes or empty shells. We are NOT one dimensional. We are not the “other”. WE ARE YOU AND YOU ARE US. As HUMANS we all feel pain, we all feel joy, we all feel heartache, we all feel love, but most importantly WE ALL WANT TO BE SEEN. .LGBTQ people are complex, fascinating and deserving of the same amount of opportunities, and the same amount of platforms to tell our stories.Regardless of our shared queer experience, we all have different struggles within our community. White gay men have privilege over black gay men, immigrant gay, bi and lesbian people deal with different issues than their American-born counter parts. RACISM IS REAL WITHIN THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY AND WE MUST ADDRESS IT IMMEDIATELY. We know the pain of discrimination so we should know better… WE MUST UPLIFT EACH OTHER, EMPATHIZE WITH EACH OTHER. GIVE SPACE TO BLACK AND BROWN QUEER VOICES. UPLIFT OUR TRANS BROTHERS AND SISTERS.”

Check out Rafael’s interview here: