'I was completely green, fresh out of college, and honestly, I was scared'
Van Hansis, the actor who played the gay character of Luke Snyder on the CBS soap As the World Turns, has come out publicly in real life.
In an interview promoting his current web series The Eastsiders, the 32-year-old Hansis talks about why he didn’t talk about being gay during his time on the CBS soap which was canceled in 2010.
‘I guess it was a combination of a lot of things – It was my first job, it was a different time back then in regards to LGBT stories being told,’ he tells The Fight Magazine.
‘I mean, the Luke story was groundbreaking at the time. Now, I think every remaining soap has a gay storyline. I was completely green, fresh out of college, and honestly, I was scared.’
Hansis, 32, earned three Daytime Emmy Award nominations for his portrayal of Luke, the son of one of the soap’s super couples.
Luke’s romance with Noah (played by Jake Silbermann) included the first same-sex kiss on a daytime soap. The relationship had many ups and downs including Noah’s dad trying to kill Luke and leaving him temporarily paralyzed and Noah’s going blind for a time.
‘The reaction was really fantastic from the fans,’ the actor says. ‘I feel like Luke and Noah were embraced as characters. Of course I think part of their popularity came from the fact that they were gay and that was new and exciting and different at the time. But there were a lot of fans who liked them for them – not because of their sexuality but because of their character’s strengths and flaws.’
He adds: ‘I think there were long time fans who started off not liking the storyline for the gay content of it who were won over by the love story – indeed, at the time I got a lot of mail saying such – and Luke and Noah helped change and shape their views about the LGBT community.’
Now Hansis is playing another gay role as one of the leads in the wed series The Eastsiders which is currently raising funds for a second season via Kickstarter.
While Luke was for the most part an honorable guy, the actor’s character on the Eastsiders has many more shades of grey. He is part of a couple struggling with infidelity.
Says Hansis: ‘While for decades LGBT characters in cinema could be the villain, victim, or asexual comedic relief – shows like what you have created have characters so well rounded that you can be all three, and so much more. As we all are, often in the same day.’