Taylor Frey and his husband. (taylorfrey/ Instagram)
It Chapter Two star Taylor Frey has spoken about his experience of being gay at a Mormon college in an interview with Attitude magazine.
The new film opens with a homophobic attack. The scene was in the original Stephen King book, but has never before been shown in a screen adaptation, and features Frey and fellow gay actor Xavier Dolan.
Frey studied theatre at Mormon-only Brigham Young University (BYU), having been brought up in a very religious household. BYU has an honour code which prohibits “homosexual behaviour”.
The code states: “One’s stated same-gender attraction is not an honour code issue. However, the honour code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity.
“Homosexual behaviour is inappropriate and violates the honour code.
“Homosexual behaviour includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”
Frey told Attitude that even though he repressed his sexuality while a student at BYU, he was falsely accused of “homosexual behaviour” with a male friend who did not attend the university. He could have been expelled, but was eventually cleared due to a lack of proof.
It Chapter Two star describes his time at the Mormon college as “scary”.
He said: “It’s the most incredible tattle-tale society. It’s damaging and it’s hurtful because you can be kicked out of school based on lies and rumours.
“I feel this fire in my chest when I speak about it because it was such a scary time for me… I’m still trying to let it go.
“It’s happened to a lot of people, some people weren’t allowed to have their credits transferred, some people were close to graduating and were kicked out and their degrees were withheld.
“That’s why it’s scary, especially for someone like me who wasn’t out of the closet yet. I was afraid that had these accusations gone forward I’d have had to to tell my parents what they were about. That was horrifying.
“It was almost like I was being dragged through the mud. It was a witch hunt.”
After college, Frey moved to New York to pursue his musical theatre career.
He added: “Not to be a total theatre nerd, but there’s this line from Wicked where Elphaba says that for the first time, she feels like she belongs.
“That’s how I felt after a few months and I realised there were so many other people like me, and I wanted to be a part of the community.”
Last month, a student athlete at BYU risked expulsion by openly discussing being bisexual in an institution where “homosexual behaviour” is against the rules.
The September issue of Attitude featuring Taylor Frey is on sale now. PinkNews has contacted Brigham Young University for comment. It Chapter Two is in cinemas in the UK from September 6.