After years of struggling with his sexual identity, SiriusXM host Fez Whatley came out as gay on the Ron & Fez show on Friday.
The announcement came after Whatley spent the last 20 years playing a gay character on the air while he remained closeted to his family, friends, and even himself.
In an interview with The Interrobang.com Whatley discussed his coming out process including the terror he felt when he finally realized that he wasn't just waiting to find the "perfect girl" -- he was gay:
Coming to this realization was devastating. After all those years of denying it, it was true. Fez Whatley was no longer a character that I played on the air. He was me. And now it wasn't funny anymore. I was now everything that I had joked about. I got depressed…I couldn't make myself be Fez Whatley anymore. I was terrified about being really gay.
Whatley goes on to say that after dealing with great bouts of depression and anxiety, he finally told his best friend and co-host Ron Bennington, and found some of the acceptance he needed. He also began to discuss LGBT issues -- like marriage equality, "don't ask, don't tell," and bully -- but "from a place of anger, not understanding."
There are too many important issues out there facing gay Americans for me to just be yelling out the occasional protest from the closet. I see comedians like Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, Mo Roccca, and most recently Todd Glass, and they haven't lost their sense of humor. They're entertaining and still make a difference in the community…
I can't be part of "It Gets Better" until I make sure things are going to get better for me. And that's what I intend on doing. So that the next time I'm asked by someone "Are you really gay?" I can finally answer, "24 hours a day."
After Whatley came out, a caller phoned the Ron & Fez show to tell them about how the radio host's revelation inspired the caller's best friend to come out on the spot:
Caller Chris: I just wanted to let you know... I was just listening with my best friend Danny and after you [Fez] said what you said he came out to me and I wanted to let you know that you just inspired him so much and now he is going and telling own family and we’re all really proud of you man! Congratulations!
Ron Bennington: (joking) Why do I feel like Danny is a straight guy who is driving home, yelling?
Chris: No, seriously, he’s not.
Ron: That really is a true story? Did you know that he was gay?
Chris: I had my suspicions...
Fez: Everyone does.
Chris: I was never really sure but you know what I am still going to be his best friend and he started crying and I started crying too. Thanks for that, you did that, that’s all you man, thank you.
Fez: Thank you -- way to go, Danny!
Listen to the audio clip of Chris talking about his friend Danny coming out:
Listen to the audio clip of Whatley coming out above and tune into the Ron & Fez show, which airs weekdays from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm ET on The Opie & Anthony Channel (XM channel 105 and Sirius channel 206 with Sirius Premier).
Below, see other notable figures and celebrities who have come out of the closet.