No more closets
Out actor Charlie David is taking charge
Right now, in some small Prairie town, there’s a gay teen dreaming of getting out. Of traveling the world, finding love and starring on TV or touring with pop stars. Well tough luck, kid—Charlie David is already living that life. Since leaving his hometown of Yorkton, Saskatchewan, about a decade ago, the 27-year-old actor has learned to multitask (starring in the supernatural soap opera Dante’s Cove, hosting the travel show Bump! and writing his own projects) while never losing his small-town good-guy charm. In the face of an entertainment industry craving good-looking puppets to use and toss aside, Charlie David has paid his dues, made some tough choices and succeeded on his own defiant terms.
First, he had to get out of small-town Saskatchewan. “I was ready to leave when I was five,” David laughs. His prairie gay-boy story is sadly typical: “I came out at 16… I lost some friendships, got in a few fights.” When he told his parents, he says, “I had my bags packed and ready to go. I thought my parents would kick me out.” Instead, he says, “they’ve been incredibly supportive.” As he left town seeking fortune and fame, however, David wandered down a wrong path, one that seemed all-too-easy in the late ’90s— yes, he was in a boyband. “Oh my God,” he groans at the memory. From the age of 19 to 21, David was one-quarter of 4Now. Though they opened for acts like Destiny’s Child and Pink in front of stadium crowds, “it was an extremely difficult time in my life,” David says. “I was basically told to stay in the closet. For me, it was very conflicting.”
David decided to focus on acting and never allow himself to be controlled like that again. There have been concessions, of course—like dropping his last name, Lubiniecki, or promoting Dante’s Cove with photos like “the quintessential gay tank-top pulling-it-up abs shot”—but his biggest victory was in taking the risk of coming out publicly. He says, “My manager told me that I’d probably get some work because of it and I’d probably lose some work because of it.” He’s in L.A. after all, not a city known for its honesty. “It gets a little weird to live here,” David says, “You see the mechanics of it all.” He sees actors who are in the closet or on publicist-created dates and says, “it’s not only a sexuality thing, it’s on all levels—hiding what the truth is.”
For him, acting depends on the exact opposite: “I think back to trying to act before I came out—it was like trying to play two roles: myself playing the role of a straight man and that straight man playing the role of whatever character it was. What you get is a muddled performance.”
If David has lost roles for being gay, he’s not complaining. He spends a chunk of the year in Hawaii filming Dante’s Cove, now in its third season on the here! channel (and now available on-demand in Canada). David admits the show’s gothic campiness isn’t Shakespeare but it’s a guilty pleasure he and the cast are having great fun making. Noah’s Arc star Jensen Atwood and actress/model Jenny Shimizu joined the show this season. “Charlie was probably the most welcoming cast member,” says Atwood. “He’s a complete sweetheart,” agrees Shimizu, “so nice, so humble, so professional—of course I find out later he’s Canadian!”
Shimizu hasn’t seen David on his second regular TV gig, hosting Bump! on OUTtv. After two seasons, he now has no shortage of travel stories, like the time the crew’s equipment was seized at the Mexican border. “Stuck in Cancun,” he laughs. “It sounds so horrible!” This much traveling can be hard on a relationship but David feels lucky to be happily partnered: “He’s supportive of my adventurous spirit… I know that 99 percent of people wouldn’t put up with me.” Is David referring to his lifestyle or his personality? “Maybe a little bit of both!” he laughs.
With a home base in L.A., David has finally been able to start calling his own shots. He spent this summer co-starring and producing a feature film he’s written. Mulligans is a “dark romantic comedy” about a man who falls in love with his straight friend’s father. “I call it The Graduate for a new generation,” he says. David is aiming at a career as an offbeat leading man, like Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt. “I’m not in the A-list yet,” he jokes. “I think the next five years for me are going to be about becoming selective with the work and saying no sometimes.” So no chance of hosting another season of Crash Test Mommy? He laughs and says, “Probably not!”