Coming Out

Ncuti Gatwa Comes Out As Queer, Calls ‘Sex Education’ ‘Healing’

Welcome to the fam, Ncuti Gatwa!

The hilarious Sex Education star is being honored with the “Modern Pioneer” style award from Elle UK. In the magazine, he opened about his sexuality and revealed that he identifies as queer.

Because of his onscreen characters and a notable appearance in Vogue‘s Pride issue this past summer (where he did not address his love life), the public has long speculated on Gatwa’s orientation. Still, this marks the first time he’s commented about being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

It seems his decision was influenced by his experience portraying Eric, a lovable and enduring gay teen at Moordale Secondary School, as well as an especially meaningful moment at Pride a few years back.

“I remember being at Manchester Pride, going through the streets with all my boys, shaking my cha-chas, living it up, when I saw this woman who looked exactly like my auntie,” he recalled. “She wasn’t –– but I knew she was Rwandan.”

Seeing a person at Pride who looked like him was unimaginable to Gatwa, who was born in Rwanda. His family fled amidst genocide in 1994. “I had never met another queer Rwandan person,” he said. “I thought I was the only one in the world.”

Though Sex Education is concluding with its fourth season (which premieres on September 21), Gatwa is taking the “healing” experience of the series with him. “[Eric is] so fierce and unashamed,” he said. “[The show] taught me the importance of representation: it’s so powerful and necessary.”

It helps that the future is looking bright for the 30-year-old. Aside from playing the first-ever queer Black doctor in Doctor Who, his résumé includes an ensemble role in Barbie. You know, just the pinkest, highest-grossing film of the year.

His flamboyant Ken (partnered with a Barbie played by Sex Education co-star Emma Mackey) seems to be a bit of a nod to his queer identity. Though working alongside so many A-listers took some adjusting.

“There was a time when I was talking to [director Greta Gerwig] and I turned around and Ryan Gosling was looking at me, and his eyes were so blue that I just… fell over,” Gatwa said. “I just drowned in his eyes.”

That being said, Gatwa has no time for critics who write off his casting in high-profile projects as “an exercise in ‘box-ticking.'”

“People need to be f****** seen,” he said. “What are you going to do, tell the same stories? Have the same people fronting things for all of eternity? Representation and inclusivity and branching out… it enriches us all. … You people with your tiny mindsets – open a book, look out the window and then f*** off.”

Gatwa is certainly more than the characters he portrays onscreen. But it’s clear that the passion, righteousness, and heart he brings to Sex Education extends beyond the page. And the show’s nuanced depiction of racism and homophobia has undone “a lot of the internalized hate” he had.

“I’ve experienced racism my whole life, and while I always believed in myself … I guess it did misinform my view of how the world works,” he said. “It makes you think everyone has that opinion and you’ll constantly have to fight through life – then you learn that you don’t: you can find a tribe, you can find your people.”

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