AND THE WALLS CAME TUMBLING DOWN
Brian Starcher Is Making History Playing Daytime's First Gay Man

A likeable fashion designer from New York that was all Brian Starcher knew about the soap character, Hank Eliot. Brian had already auditioned twice before at AS THE WORLD TURNS, for the roles of Craig and Kirk, so when the offer came to create the role of Hank, the actor was delighted. Brian's mother immediately wondered if the character was a homosexual. "Mom, how stereotypical can you get?" Brian retorted.

Two weeks into the role, then executive producer Robert Calhoun dropped the bomb: Hank was, indeed, slated to be gay. In a soft low voice, Brian remembers, "This intense flush of homophobia came over my body. I thought, 'Everyone's going to think I'm gay.' " Calhoun suggested the actor go home and seriously think about whether or not he wanted to take on the role.

"I started thinking positive things about doing it and realizing that people who I love aren't going to care," Brian recalls. His agents didn't object, as long as the story was handled with taste and sensitivity. But, Brian had two other potential obstacles. The middle child of five siblings, he was apprehensive about his family's reaction especially what his father would say. "My dad's my hero, a man of great character," Brian explains. "He was very strict. I called him up and I don't remember what he said first, but it wasn't negative. He called back and said, 'Look, Brian. I think this is a wonderful opportunity and I think you should take it. I'm going to support you.' "

Starcher's other concern was his girl friend's response but, as it turns out, he needn't have worried. "She was ecstatic. Hank wasn't going to be in bed with any body on the show. No soap starlets were going to be touching my bod, thank you." Brian accepted the challenge, made easier by the fact that, to date, Hank's lover has never been seen, only mentioned.

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