25 years ago, Ryan Phillippe landed his first professional acting gig. He only played Billy Douglas for 13 episodes on One Life To Live, but Phillippe and his character made history. The groundbreaking character marked the first openly gay teenager featured in a television series, long before Will & Grace aired and Ellen came out.
While promoting his new supernatural horror Wish Upon, the 42-year-old actor spoke fondly about the part and remembers correspondence he received from viewers. “I remember the fan mail that we would get, my mother and I would get, from gay teenagers or from parents of gay teenagers who found a way in to relate to or talk to their child through the show,” Ryan recalled to TooFab.
“Entertainment media can do those things, it can make people think differently or see a different side of something and I do remember and appreciating that — even back then when I was only a teenager myself,” Phillippe continued. “But in terms of like the larger view, I didn’t have a full understanding of how important it could have been,” he added, “but I’m proud to have done it, I’m proud that that’s something I can say was a part of my career.”
Watch Phillippe below talk proudly about his contribution to LGBT television history.