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Tim Gunn’s revealing People interview: “When I was seventeen, I’d made a serious suicide attempt”

Project Runway’s Tim Gunn, whose book Gunn’s Golden Rules has just been released, talked to People Magazine about some of the deeply personal revelations in his book. Here are some excerpts from his interview in the current issue of the magazine:

“Sometimes people ask when I figured out when I was gay. For a long time, I didn’t know what I was. I knew what I wasn’t: I wasn’t interested in boys, and I really wasn’t interested in girls. Things have changed so much; it’s hard for young people to imagine what it was like to be gay back then. You used to feel so alone. When I was thinking I might not be John Wayne material, the only role model I had was Paul; Lynde from Bewitched. He was gawky and ridiculous.”

“In my parents home, the term “gay” wasn’t even in our vocabulary. If I tried to talk about anything remotely related they’d say, “We’ve never heard of this!” But I think they knew that “this” was what I was, and that’s part of why they sent me ti shrinks constantly. I wound up seeing a wonderful therapist. When I was seventeen, I’d made a serious suicide attempt. I was at yet another boarding school – I must have cycled through a dozen. I had no friends. I was depressed. I wanted to end it all. In my dorm room at Milford Academy I took too many pills, then lay down with a sense of peaceful resignation. Much to my frustration, I woke up the next morning. Now, of course, I’m glad it didn’t work. When I got beyond my stutter at nineteen, my world opened up.”“In my twenties, I was madly in love with the same man for almost a decade. It was fabulous. [Then] one night he told me he’d been sleeping around. I could hardly breathe from grief, humiliation and despair. Much of my boyfriend’s “I’m over this” was about sex. I’ve always been kind of asexual. That breakup was a cold shower to last a lifetime.”

“When people hear I haven’t had a boyfriend since 1982, they often whisper, “Does he not have sex?” That’s right! Could I get Psychiatric help? Probably. It’s a little late.”

“It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that my mother, who has never acknowledged that I’m gay, stopped talking about women to fix me up with. She says, “What about old age? Don’t you want to be with someone?” I’ve started to say, sincerely, “Maybe not.” I am really happy alone. Back when I was seventeen, I never imagined I’d have a beautiful apartment, a job I love, witty friends. I think about that when fans call out, “We love you, Tim!” I want to respond, “I love you too!” I mean it.”

FILE UNDER: Books, Out Stars


(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

8 Remarks

  1. I love you Tim.

  2. September 12th, 2010 at 11:19 am
    David Phillips says:

    Kudos, Tim, for talking about the tough stuff in life. Queers youth will always need adults like them to provide reassurance that life can be vibrant, joyous, and free, even without the love and support of family and friends in our younger days. Amused that you, too, imprinted on Paul Lynde–drug use aside, he and Rip Taylor were great examples for being fierce, fabulous, and larger than life.

    “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.”

  3. Tim, you got guts, guy. It’s hard to imagine your pain back at Milford when one considers your life today and the joy you exude. I will buy your book and read it with relish, tinged with a little sadness, but ultimately will cheer and applaud you in your telling of it.

  4. Wow, powerful stuff from the classy, elegant Mr Gunn and while things have changed, there are still may young gay men and women who want to kill and hurt themselves as the hate is still strong, especially in schools, good for him sending out his story, it will help many young and some older folks who are grappling with same sex identity.

  5. Thank you do much for sharing your life with us!! I truly believe we are put on this earth to teach and help others. It just goes to show GOD really did have a plan for you as do we all. It seems we all have our hardships to bear in this life, but its really what we choose to do with them is what matters.(:

  6. Hi Tim. I think you are the most wonder, most classy gentleman on TV these days. A true gentleman. I watch you on the Revolution and you are always hold a woman’s hand to help her down steps, pull her chair out. You remind me of my husband. Chivalry is not dead. You are an amazing spirit and you should be so proud at all that you have overcome. I do love you!

  7. I think Tim Gunn is the most sophisticated and elegant person on television – The thing is I do not think it is an act or a part to play as it is for the other “judges” {using that term loosely} I believe him to be a genuinely wonderful person. So much so that if I were asked what top three celebs I would like to meet – he would be one of them.

  8. Tim, you are really something special, and carry yourself with such grace. I think it’s great that you have a full satisfying life. That is ultimately what is important for achieving true happiness. Rock on! :)

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