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Luke Evans is looking back on hurtful speculation that he hid his sexuality in order to advance his career.
The Beauty and the Beast actor, 41, was named Attitude's Man of the Year, with the star reflecting on how far he's come since being bullied as a teen to being an openly gay movie star. Evans addressed past accusations that he was hiding his sexuality from the spotlight, telling the British gay lifestyle magazine that simply wasn't the case.
"It was the last thing I had, because everything else I’ve given to the world. My career was public, I was photographed and all that stuff. My personal life just became the last thing that I had," Evans said. "Also, what was strange was that when people did find out that I was gay, there was a lot of articles and stuff written saying that I was hiding it, and I wasn’t."
"I just wanted to get online and I wanted to pick up the phone and say, ‘Do you realize I left home at 16 because I was gay?’ I went into the world as a kid, because I had to," he continued. "I am proud and happy, and I’ve lived a very big life that I’m super happy with. And I’ve never been ashamed."
"And now all of a sudden I was being treated in this way and it was a scary moment because I was, like, 'Oh God, this is horrible. This is not true. None of this is true,' " Evans said.
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Elsewhere in the interview, Evans — known for his roles in the Fast & Furious and Hobbit franchises, as well as in The Girl on the Train (2016) and TV's The Alienist — said he hopes he has "broken down a lot of barriers, just because I’m trying to represent my community," though he acknowledged he "can’t represent everybody."
"And I certainly can’t please everybody. I just have to do it my way," he added. "I just try and be authentic, because this is who I am. I am this person. I’m not creating another image so that I can portray one to you."
Evans also offered his advice to young people in the LGBTQ community: "You can be happy with yourself and you can also be whoever you want. You can have any career you want, and nothing should dictate what you do because of your sexuality."