Sean Hayes' mom wrote him a 10-page letter after he came out. It wasn't too nice.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

Sean Hayes is often celebrated as a gay trailblazer in Hollywood, bringing to life the hilarious and unashamedly queer Jack McFarland in "Will & Grace." But Hayes' own coming out story reflects a dark side of the LGBTQ experience fans don't always get to see from his character on the hit NBC sitcom.

In a new interview with People magazine, Hayes opened up about his mother's rejection upon learning her son was gay at 18 years old. “It was 1988 when I came out,” he explained. "It’s so cliché that it was during Thanksgiving weekend."


"My mom said I needed to go see a therapist," he continued. "She wrote me a 10-page letter, both sides on legal pad-size paper. 'This is not what God' — you know, the whole uneducated view of it."

Photo by Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images.

Hayes had suspected his family may not take the news well. He'd even hidden the fact that he performed in high school plays from his brothers, fearful his participation in drama club would out him as "different."

"Theater was for gays, and it was for sissies, and things like that," Hayes said. "Things that you were taught to be ashamed of."

Fortunately in the decades since, Hayes' mom came around to accepting him for who he is.

“She became educated and had friends who [were] gay people,” Hayes told People. “She was like, ‘Oh I see. You’re just like me,’ and all that. It became fine and wonderful, and then she became so supportive and awesome.”

Sean Hayes (right) and his "Will & Grace" co-stars. Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images.

Hayes' evolving relationship with his mom mirrors a societal shift for the better on LGBTQ issues. 57% percent of parents today say they would not be upset if their child came out as gay — that's up from 9% in 1985, according to Pew Research.

But how intersectional and inclusive has that progress really been felt across the community?

Although Americans' perception of queer people has changed remarkably throughout the past decade overall, there's still a lot work to be done — particularly when it comes to the other letters beyond just "L" and G" in LGBTQ.

While marriage equality has been legalized nationwide along with the expansion of same-sex adoption, the blowback to such progress has been alarming, often harming the most vulnerable within the queer community. 

Hate crimes targeting transgender people, for example — and in particular, trans women of color — are on the rise, according to FBI statistics released in November. Research suggests half of transgender people will experience sexual violence at some point in their lives; a figure far higher than the general population. Significant stigma remains for bisexual men and women as well — people who routinely see their identities sexualized, questioned, and erased.

The Trump administration continues to undermine progress for the LGBTQ community — more than it already has. Trump rescinded bathroom protections for trans students in schools, surrounded himself with homophobic and transphobic officials with huge sway over policy, and emboldened anti-LGBTQ movements across the world.

But to Hayes, who's currently starring in the revived "Will & Grace" series on NBC, it's important to remember things have gotten better.

A more inclusive world means more positive coming out experiences for LGBTQ kids everywhere.

"If you don’t have the words to explain [your sexuality] to your family, you can say, ‘Like, 'Will & Grace,’ or 'Like Ellen DeGeneres,'" he said. "There’s so many more examples now to help people and give them tools to communicate to kids and their families that being gay is as normal as being straight."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via Jimivr / Flickr and Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Actress Billie Lourd paid tribute to her late mother Carrie Fisher on Tuesday by sharing a photo of her son Kingston watching Fisher as Princess Leia in 1977's "Star Wars: A New Hope."

Kingston was born last September to Lourd and her fiancé, actor Austen Rydell. The infant is pictured wearing a knitted hat with buns on its side and a Leia-themed onesie.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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