"Pretty Little Liars" alum Tyler Blackburn is opening up about embracing his sexuality.
“I'm queer. I've identified as bisexual since (I was) a teenager," he recently told The Advocate. "I just want to feel powerful in my own skin, and my own mind, and in my own heart.”
The actor, 32, is best known for his role as bad boy Caleb Rivers on "Pretty Little Liars" and now plays gay war veteran Alex Maines on the CW's "Roswell, New Mexico."
Blackburn recalled getting bullied for being "effeminate" growing up and said he would often eat lunch in his biology classroom.
“You form a shell around yourself for protection," he said. "And you start to make decisions based off of things outside of what you want and who you are. I stopped doing so many of the things that I loved doing because it felt safer. That right there is the outcome of oppression. When you literally have to mute who you are in order to feel safe. That’s soul-crushing.”
The actor also lamented the way perceptions "about bisexuality being a cop-out… or the easy way out of something" held him back from exploring his sexuality.
"I felt the pressure from all sides to have (it) figured out," he said. "And I think for the longest time, I suppressed more of my attraction to men. It wasn't until my late 20s, toward the end of 'Pretty Little Liars,' that I really allowed my self to go there and not just wonder about it."
Now in his 30s, Blackburn is "tired of caring so much" about what others will think.
"I just want to live my truth and feel OK with experiencing love and experiencing self-love," he said. "Yes, there is an element of, I want to feel like it’s OK to hold my boyfriend’s hand as I’m walking down the street, and not worry. Is someone going to look and be like, ‘Whoa, is that guy from that show? I didn’t know that (he was queer.)' "
What now? Blackburn says he's aiming to feel "as free as possible" in his own skin.
"I want to own my space now,” he continued, celebrating culture for being at a point "where fluidity is spoken about in such a beautiful way that it doesn’t make me feel as pressured to have it figured out."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Actor Tyler Blackburn opens up about being bisexual: 'I just want to feel powerful in my own skin'