Today is the birthday of Scottish singer, actor, and activist JOHN BARROWMAN. Best known for his role as “Captain Jack Harkness” in the science fiction series Doctor Who and Torchwood. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Barrowman and his family emigrated to the U.S. when he was nine.
Growing up in Illinois, his high school teachers encouraged his love for music and theatre and he studied performing arts at the United States International University in San Diego before visiting the United Kingdom and landing the role of “Billy Crocker” in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes in London’s West End.
In addition to appearing in several films and television series, Barrowman has featured on more than a dozen musical theatre recordings including cover tunes found on the certified gold album Another Side (2007), Music Music Music (2008), the second Top 40 album by Barrowman to reach the UK albums and singles charts, and his self-titled release John Barrowman (2010), the highest chart rating of any of Barrowman’s albums to date.
Barrowman met his partner Scott Gill in 1993 and in 2005 they registered as civil partners under British law. They do not call their relationship a marriage: “We’re just going to sign the civil register. We’re not going to have any ceremony because I’m not a supporter of the word marriage for a Gay partnership.” Barrowman explained later: “Why would I want a ‘marriage’ from a belief system that hates me?” A small ceremony was held in Cardiff with friends and family, with the cast of Torchwood and executive producer Russell T. Davies as guests.
In 2009, Barrowman published I Am What I Am, his second memoir detailing his recent television work and musings on fame. In the book, Barrowman reveals that when he was just beginning his acting career, a Gay producer told Barrowman that he should try to pretend to be heterosexual in order to be successful. Barrowman was offended by the incident, and it made him more aware of the importance of his role as a Gay public figure:
“One of my explicit missions as an entertainer is to work to create a world where no one will ever make a statement like this producer did to me to anyone who’s Gay.” To this end, Barrowman is active in his community supporting the issues that matter to him most. He worked with Stonewall, a Gay rights organization in the UK, on the “Education for All” campaign against homophobia in the schools. In April 2008, the group placed posters on 600 billboards that read, “Some people are Gay. Get over it!” Barrowman contributed his support to the project asking people to join him and “Help exterminate homophobia. Be bold. Be brave. Be a buddy, not a bully.” In the same month, Barrowman spoke at the Oxford Union about his career, the entertainment industry, and Gay Rights issues. The event was filmed for the BBC program The Making Of Me, in an episode exploring the science of homosexuality In 1998, Barrowman was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical, and in 2006 he was voted Stonewall’s “Entertainer of the Year.”