Teen heartthrob Colton Haynes often plays the brooding, handsome young man in action on screen with the tough persona. Case in point are the two roles he is most famous for: as Jackson Whittemore, the wealthy jock turned werewolf in MTV's Teen Wolf, and as superhero Arsenal in Arrow.
Both characters, of course, have their own demons, and it appears that art may have imitated Colton's life because he has been haunted by his own anxious self-doubt. This is what caused him to take a step back from his career when he suddenly left his starring role in Arrow on 2015.
“I asked to step away because I cared more about my mental and physical health than my career at the time,” Haynes told Entertainment Weekly. “I’ve had terminal anxiety my entire life. Physically ill, fainting. I’m 27 years old, and I have an ulcer. I had to step back,” he explains.
He was still able to maintain his fame with a little bit of help from social media, where he has been able to accumulate a large following. As of last count he has 1.7 million Twitter followers and more than 4 million on Instagram. It appears that he could deal with his personal anxiety without jeopardizing the fame he has built over the years.
Social media, though, is a double-edged sword; a Tumblr post where a fan pointed out his "secret gay past" and his innocent reply, "was it a secret?" sparked a massive reaction that Colton was backed into a corner. He is gay, and friends, family, and co-workers already knew, but, as is his right, he chose not to reveal it publicly until now. He explains why:
“It was a complete shock. I wasn’t ready to be back in the headlines,” he said in reference to the Tumblr post. “I should have made a comment or a statement, but I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t feel like I owed anyone anything. I think in due time, everyone has to make those decisions when they’re ready, and I wasn’t yet. But I felt like I was letting people down by not coming forward with the rest of what I should have said.”
Understandably, during that time, he was still in a dark place, going to rehab for anxiety and checking in and out of the hospital for the next three months. “People who are so judgmental about those who are gay or different don’t realize that acting 24 hours a day is the most exhausting thing in the world,” he says.
But, like the jock who redeemed himself and the street thug-turned-superhero he plays, Colton seems to have overcome the worst part of his ordeal. “It took me so long to get to this point, but I’m doing so good,” he says.
Colton is already looking into future projects like movies, theater, music, and photography. He is also starting his own fashion line for both men and women, which seems to be an ideal path to take since he was a model.
“I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and healthier than I’ve ever been, and that’s what I care about,” he points out.