sean maher getty 'Playboy Club's' Sean Maher comes out of the closet after 14 years in HollywoodOne of the more interesting aspects of NBC’s “The Playboy Club” premiere last Monday (Sept. 19) was the closeted lesbian bunny Alice (Leah Cudmore) and her closeted gay husband Sean (Sean Maher) working for a chapter of the Mattachine Society, an organization for closeted homosexuals in the 1950s and 60s.

Now Maher, who has been working steadily in Hollywood for 14 years, has decided to use his role as the closeted Sean on “The Playboy Club” to start a dialog and come out of the closet in real life. Maher tells EW that while he never straight-out lied about his sexuality, he let people believe what they wanted to believe.

“I’ve never been asked about it publicly, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t paint a different picture,” says Maher. “Publicists from [“Ryan Caulfield: Year One”] took me out to The Ivy for lunch. They’re telling me, ‘You know, gosh, we’d really appreciate
it if you could keep your girlfriend on the side because we want to
appeal to the female demographic of the show.'”

But keeping it a secret took its toll on Maher.

“It was so exhausting, and I was so miserable. I didn’t
really have any life other than work and this fa�ade I was putting on … I just kept going on and on
painting this picture of somebody I wasn’t. I didn’t have time for a
personal relationship anyway. And you just don’t realize that it’s
eating away at your soul.”

Now Maher has the burden lifted and can appear in public with his partner of almost nine years, Paul, and their two children, Sophia Rose, 4, and Liam Xavier, 14 months.

And on “The Playboy Club,” Maher, who was only seen briefly in the premiere episode, will start to play a much bigger role – he’ll be managing Nick Dalton’s (Eddie Cibrian) campaign for State’s Attorney, while trying to keep his personal life private.

“There’s some great stuff in the next episode when we have my parents over for dinner,” Maher tells EW.It’s
a beard-y situation. When are we having grandkids comes up, but there
is actually two things we’re hiding: There’s the gay thing for both of
us, but then also the Playboy Club thing. [His parents] would be
mortified if they knew [Alice] worked in the Club. So there’s lots of things
we’re keeping hidden.”

“The Playboy Club” airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."