Agents of SHIELD’s J. August Richards Reveals Why He Chose Now to Come Out Publicly

J. August Richards is best known for playing Charles Gunn on Angel and Mike Peterson/Deathlok on Agents of SHIELD, and back in April, the actor came out as gay on Instagram Live while chatting with Sarah Wayne Callies, who he's currently starring with on the new NBC series, Council of Dads. Richards, who is 46-years-old, recently interviewed with Out Front Magazine and opened up about why he chose to come out now and what he hopes to accomplish as an out, Black actor.

"This was sort of the last step of my coming out process," Richards explained. "Everyone in my life who needed to know knew, and I moved through the world doing exactly what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, but there was a layer, a wall that I have always had between my career and my personal life. I don’t think I’m telling anybody new information by saying that. People have a tendency to limit what you can do as a gay person in this world, more deeply as a gay actor, and they also have a tendency to limit what you can do as a Black actor. So, at a young age, I was ill-equipped and ill-prepared to move through this town both Black and gay. I’m 46 years old now, and I can do it. I finally have the confidence and the knowledge to be able to do it. If I would have done it a day before I did, it would have been the wrong time."

He added, "Honestly, I just hope to thrive. I just want other gay men out there, other Black, gay men, other actors, other people, just to be inspired by the fact that one can be openly gay and still survive. That is all I really want. I also want to open the dialogue in communities about allowing people to be themselves and not stereotyping or limiting the possibilities in the world. More importantly, by coming out publicly, my true mission was revealed to me, which is, I want equality for all. I am talking about groups that I belong to and groups that I don’t. That is really what I come here to do. That is my mission, and I feel like every time someone liberates themselves, you give other people permission to liberate themselves as well. I hope to make this world a little bit more of an equal place for everyone."

Currently, there's no word on whether or not Richards will be returning to Agents of SHIELD for its final season. The actor played a prominent role in the show's first season, appeared in a few episodes in season two, and then returned for the 100th episode in season five. He's one of the many people we're hoping to see make a surprise cameo this season.

Agents of SHIELD airs Wednesdays on ABC at 10 PM EST, and Council of Dads airs Thursdays on NBC at 8 PM EST.

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