Taking Pride: Colton Haynes Gets Real About His Coming Out Journey In His New Memoir, “Miss Memory Lane”

Colton HaynesPhoto Credit: Nino Munoz
Colton Haynes is best known for shows such as Arrow, American Horror Story, Teen Wolf, and Scream Queens, but fans of the 33-year-old actor are about to see him in a whole new light thanks to his confessional, no holds barred memoir, Miss Memory Lane. In his recent release, Haynes gets brutally honest about lust, loneliness, abuse and longing, chronicling his journey from a dysfunctional and broken childhood in a small Kansas town to Hollywood stardom and fame won at the steep price of hiding his sexuality. Here, he tells his story. 

Colton HaynesPhoto Credit: Simon & Schuster

You spent your childhood in many different places. How did you manage to hold it together as you left parts of yourself behind? Did you create new identities everywhere you went? Which place felt most like home? (Arkansas, Kansas, NYC, Florida)

To be completely honest, it almost felt easier for me to hold it all together. Living in so many different places forced me to pay close attention to my surroundings, and I found myself studying people a lot more than most kids would. I felt like I could just carry the positive traits with me, or at least the ones that others felt were positive, and shed the ones that didn’t help me along the way. I was definitely creating new identities, which at the time didn’t feel like a problem, but now I realized that it’s one of the reasons why it’s taken me so long to truly know who I am at my core.

Let’s talk about your relationship with your mother. How did it change as you got older and started seeing her as a person with an individual life and not just the person responsible for raising you?

Our relationship has been complicated since the day I was born…and still is in some ways even though she passed away 4 years ago. We are mirrors of each other. We’d find ourselves avoiding each other in dark times because it would illuminate the problems we were each going through, and we loved to think we both had it all figured out…and clearly, we did not. It wasn’t until after she passed away that I learned exactly what alcoholism/drug addiction was – a brain disease. I learned that by dealing with it myself, and I wish I would’ve known that she was just doing the best she could.

What would you say are the most three definitive experiences in your life that shaped you? Was one coming out?

1. Seeing my first tornado when I was a kid. All I could think in that moment was ‘how could something so beautiful be so destructive?’
2. Lying on the submission letter that I sent to my first modeling agency that ended up signing me. I developed this fervid obsession with the fashion industry as a kid, and wasn’t about to let my height get in the way of pursuing my dream. Saying I was 5’11 when I was actually 5’8 is the reason all of this started for me. It was the first time I remember actually believing in myself and knew that if I could just get my foot in the door, people would see my passion.
3. Coming out when I was 14. I was out before I moved to LA, and I find myself longing for that anonymity and feeling of freedom again.

Colton HaynesPhoto Credit: Nino Munoz

What does it mean to live authentically now?

I couldn’t continue the act that I had to keep up 24/7. It was killing me. I’m still settling in and figuring out who I really am, but living as my genuine authentic self has afforded me the realization that I am enough.

What did you learn about yourself in rehab? How did it make you understand who you are and who you want to be?

I learned that I’m a great caretaker, especially when I stop focusing on myself every damn second of the day. It helped me see that my vulnerability is my greatest superpower and not a weakness and shifted my internal focus toward helping others.

What would you tell 10-year-old Colton if you could share one piece of advice?

You are worthy of love without pain.

What three words describe how you feel right now, right here, at this moment in your life? Can you explain those words?

Hungry – Not just because I haven’t eaten yet today, but I’ve found that hunger for life and accomplishing goals again, and I’m so grateful to feel this way.
Optimistic – I know something beautiful is on the horizon; I feel it in my bones.
Proud – For the first time in my life, I’m truly starting to believe in myself.

Colton HaynesPhoto Credit: Dylan Forsberg