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According to TV Guide, "Bold and the Beautiful" star Joanna Johnson has become the daytime soap opera world's only "out" actor currently on a series, revealing in an exclusive interview that she's a lesbian.
The 50-year-old Johnson, whose longtime "The Bold and the Beautiful" character Karen has been living a secret life as a lesbian, told the TV magazine she's married to L.A. club promoter Michelle Agnew, with whom she has two children, five-year-old Julian and Harlow, two.
Johnson told writer Michael Logan that she kept mum on her personal life for so long out of "fear of rejection" as an actress. "I was so worried I wouldn't be employable as an actress if people knew I was a lesbian," she said. "Or that I wouldn't be believable in romance stories. I had to deal with a lot of self-loathing."
On her personal life mirroring that of her "Beautiful" character Karen, who is both married to a woman (Crystal Chappell) and mother to Caroline (Lindsay Godfrey), Johnson proclaims, "I guess that's why I'm ready to open up. It feels weird and wrong to play this revelation about Karen's life and not talk about my own."
Though Johnson also notes she's been friends with Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge and k.d. lang for years, she insists she "never felt any pressure" from her lesbian pals to come out. "When I realized I was gay in my early 20s we didn't have role models like Ellen," she said. "I'm not anywhere near as famous as those ladies, but I guess it's my turn to do my little part. It's time to live a fully authentic life."
She adds, "I think they understood my professional concerns because those concerns were very real. When Ellen came out she took a big hit. It certainly hurt her career as an actress...I really admire the courage of people who have been out and noisy. I had to struggle to become proud."
Last month, "Bold and the Beautiful" co-writer Brad Bell told TV Guide that he hoped Karen's storyline would "discuss the real issues" and "present some prejudices" of the gay community.
"I want to do this story because I listen to all the political debates on the subject of same-sex marriage and can't believe I share the same country with people who think so differently about human rights," he said. "I want to put my hat in the ring and, hopefully, help change some thoughts and opinions on the issue."
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