Coming Out

Baby Reindeer star Jessica Gunning confirms she’s “a big old gay”

The cast of Netflix’s hit dark comedy series Baby Reindeer is growing queerer by the minute. Jessica Gunning, who plays the series’ main antagonist, has just come out publicly as “a big old gay.”

Gunning has been out to friends and family for nearly two years, but this is the first time she has clarified her sexuality to the public, following the critical acclaim and viral success of Baby Reindeer. In the series, Gunning stars as Martha, a fan who begins stalking stand-up comedian Donny Dunn (played by series creator and writer Richard Gadd).

The first hints came during her role on the 2014 film Pride, a comedy-drama about the founding of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign in the 80s. Somehow those hints failed to become blaring alarm bells when she shared a kiss on stage with Cate Blanchett in When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other.

“I should have even known when I did Pride,” Gunning said. “I would cry all the time. All the time. I found it so emotional. I should have really known then.

“And then I did a play with Cate Blanchett where I got to kiss her every night onstage — again, should have known then. All these signs from the universe! It took me 36 years, but I did it.”

Gunning explained that one day, everything just fell into place. “I came out in November 2022,” she said. “I am surrounded by gays like all my friends are gay, so it wasn’t that I was repressing anything, it was just that I didn’t think that I could be,” she said. “I still can’t articulate it in the best way.

“But I realized I was a big, old gay. I was like, ‘That’s what it’s been, that’s what it is.’ And that was like a massive moment where everything kind of clicked and I made sense of myself then.”

For a long time, she attributed her feeling different to her physical size. “Because for so long I’d thought, ‘I know I’m a bigger woman,’ and I thought that maybe it was to do with my size that I felt a bit like almost alien or like I was tagging along,” she explained. “But as soon as I realized… [it] was like the most liberating thing.

“I kind of was like ‘Oh, that’s what this has been, it’s like a little secret I guess I’ve been keeping from myself even.’”

Gunning joins Gadd as an openly queer star on Baby Reindeer. From the sound of things, she couldn’t be happier. “It’s been amazing, and very freeing and very grounding,” she said. “I feel like really peaceful actually.”

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