Coming Out

Katy O’Brian reveals her fish-tastic coming out story

It’s been a whirlwind few years for out-actor and martial artist Katy O’Brian. After securing roles in major franchises Star Wars and Marvel, she’s continuing that momentum into the Mission Impossible and Twister sequels. Even with so many good things on the horizon, she’s currently looking back, discussing her coming out journey in a new interview with

Long before landing a starring role opposite Kristen Stewart in the sapphic thriller Love Lies Bleeding, O’Brian came from humble origins in the Midwest. Although she never experienced queerphobia in her upbringing, that didn’t make coming out any easier.

“I come from a really accepting family. But I don’t know that the topic of queerness came up very often,” O’Brian explained. “It certainly wasn’t anything that I was really aware of, until maybe even as early as high school when one of my friends came out.”

In college, she started to connect some dots. “Girls had crushes on me and I was like, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know what’s going on,’” O’Brian recalled. “It wasn’t until college when I saw someone who was very androgynous for the first time where I had this, aha moment of, ‘Oh my god, that person is beautiful. I want to know more about them. Who is that? What is this?’ That’s where I started to really delve into my own sexuality.”

O’Brian ultimately found a queer circle of friends through her first drag pageant. “It was the first time that I saw queer people on stage, having fun being as gay as possible. Slashing gender norms. All the fun stuff, but also everyone just cheering for them, loving them, throwing flowers, and hopefully underwear,” she said. “I love the drag community for that. I think that they’ve always been some of the biggest ride-or-dies.”

Later on, a breakthrough finally arrived in the form of a certain, suggestively shaped shellfish. “The tipping point for me was this guy took me out on a date and we went to get mussels, the shellfish, and I was, ‘I’m kind of more into this shellfish than I am into this guy,” O’Brian said.

Part of the reason it was so difficult to come out was exactly because it seemed so obvious. “I was like, ‘No, I can’t. I can’t be a stereotype.’ But I guess I was,” O’Brian said. “So it got to the point where I literally had friends come up to me and be like, ‘So, are you gay yet?’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ And then the joy on their faces when I finally said yes was great.”

Years later, O’Brian is still dealing with projected stereotypes in Hollywood, and she continues to defy them. In doing so, it sounds like she’s living her best life as her true self. “I’ve been told that I’m too buff for certain roles,” she said. “It’s funny to me; I don’t really care because what gives me confidence are the things that some people seem to police.

“I love having short hair. It feels great on me. It feels like the way that I feel the most confident. I love having muscles; it makes me feel really confident. I love what my body can do. It’s just one of those things where I don’t think I would be as far as I am if I didn’t embrace those things about myself.”

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