Cory Michael Smith

American actor Cory Michael Smith, who is best known for playing Edward Nygma (The Riddler) in the TV series Gotham, has publicly come out as gay.

The 31-year-old star who originally from Columbus, Ohio, spoke openly about his sexuality for the first time during an interview to promote his new film, 1985.

The new film which is directed by Yen Tan, tells the story of a closeted New York man who goes home to his family in Texas for the holidays after his boyfriend dies from AIDS.

Speaking about the role with the Daily Beast, Smith said he was able to personally relate to some of the character’s experiences, “There’s something special about telling a story that feels closer to home.”

“I’m from Middle America. I’m from Ohio,” he explained, “I’ve been living here in New York for a while, and there are stretches when I don’t see my family often. Going home and that whole charade is very familiar. The first family dinner after a while. Coming out to a family, the fear of that.”

Smith touching on his own coming out experience, commented that his family responded to his sexuality with “a lot of love,” but also admitted that it also took “a lot of time.”

According to Smith the story of 1985, is ultimately about “something so personal about family and connecting with family and keeping secrets with family.”

Smith added that “It’s not about connecting gay people with the idea of disease. But I do think it is important to look at the gay experience in the early ’80s and know that it was overwhelmed by disease.”