Joshua Rush opened up about his sexuality for the first time publicly this week, telling fans that he identifies as a “proud bisexual man.”
From there, however, things took a more personal turn.
The 17-year-old Texas native suggested that his initial reluctance to come out was “ironic” given his “Andi Mack” role.
As Cyrus Goodman, Rush portrayed the Disney Channel’s first openly gay character. Cyrus first addressed his sexuality in the show’s Season 2 premiere episode, in which he revealed that he’d developed a crush on his best male friend, Jonah (Asher Angel).
Later installments saw Cyrus coming to terms with his feelings for other boys, albeit in a suitably adolescent way. Season 3’s “One in a Minyan,” for instance, saw Cyrus come out to Jonah while mourning the death of his grandmother, Bubbe Rose.
That episode drew praise from a number of LGBTQ advocacy groups, including PFLAG International, which applauded the Disney Channel for “continuing to tell Cyrus’ story in such an authentic and moving way” for young viewers.
The series finale of “Andi Mack,” which aired July 26, went a step further by hinting at a relationship developing between Cyrus and a classmate, TJ Kippen (Luke Mullen).
But playing Cyrus wasn’t the sole impetus in Rush’s decision to come out. Rather, he said, it was the support of fans ― many of whom felt “emboldened by Cyrus” ― that gave him the courage to live as his authentic self.
“Helping young LGBTQ+ voices feel heard and loved is utterly crucial,” he said.
Trevor Project CEO and Executive Director Amit Paley was among the first to respond to Rush’s announcement, saying the actor’s words “can mean so much to young LGBTQ people” given the prevalence of bullying in schools and the scarcity of diverse characters in mainstream TV programs aimed at teen viewers.
“We’re grateful to Joshua Rush for showing his fans that he supports them,” Paley told HuffPost in an email, “and that they are perfect and beautiful the way they are.”
Though “Andi Mack” ended its three-season Disney Channel run last month, Rush’s acting career is still in high gear. He provides the voice for the title character in the animated TV adaptation of “Where’s Waldo?,” which debuted on Universal Kids July 20.