Viewers know actor Cheyenne Jackson from his work in "Glee," "30 Rock," "American Horror Story," "Watchmen" and more, but now the small-screen talent is sharing something his fans didn’t know about at all.
Over the weekend, the 44-year-old took to Instagram and revealed a large scar that runs across his scalp — and the story behind it. (Warning: There's profanity in the caption.)
"I’ve been DREADING this day for 17 years. The day when my horrible secret would be revealed," he wrote alongside front-and-back photos. "No, this gnarly scar across my head isn’t from life-saving brain surgery, nor did I narrowly survive a shark attack. It’s worse. (At least in Hollywood...)"
What could possibly be so bad?
"I had hair transplant surgery," he confessed. "5 of them, to be exact over 14 years."
Jackson is aware that some might find the candor and emotion that he put into the post about cosmetic procedures a little oddly timed given the pandemic times we’re all living in — in fact, he felt the same way at first.
"My inner monologue is ‘Really Cheyenne? With everything that’s going on in the world, you’re CONFESSING that you had hair surgery? Get over yourself,'" he wrote. "I get it, but I’m admitting this really, to RELEASE how much shame & anxiety I’ve had about people finding out for years."
And as his post continued, his fear evaporated.
"I started losing my hair around 22," he explained. "My older brother was balding too, but was way braver & cooler & just shaved his off. It was really emotional for me to watch it fall out & I felt less attractive & truly less like myself as the days went on, so I saved up and got my first surgery at 28. I hid it from everyone. It was painful & expensive but I started to feel better about myself."
But while the transplant effectively replaced the hair that was already gone, it didn’t prevent his remaining hair from continuing to thin. As it did, he had more procedures in secret.
"Why? Why did I care so much? What does that say about me?" he wondered. "Being a vain actor in an industry that rewards beauty, I vowed to keep this my secret forever. I feel SO stupid saying that but it’s my truth. As if someone finding out would somehow negate my talent, or make me less viable or valuable in the world."
However, over the years, he discovered that it was a much bigger deal to him than it was to the few people with whom he had to share his secret.
"At the beginning of every job, I’d secretly gather the hair & makeup people, dramatically close the door of the trailer, & make a big deal about REVEALING my devastating truth. Every. Single. Time." The response? "They basically said ‘ummm...yeah...so?’ NO ONE CARED BUT ME!"
It’s taken him a long time to get there, but he’s letting go of those cares now. And he’s hoping, by opening up about all of it at this precise time, others might stop carrying the heavy burden of shame when it comes to their own private truths.
"I’m sharing because maybe this will inspire someone out there to share a secret they’ve been hiding, or show a scar that they’ve been afraid of anyone seeing," he wrote. "Let it go. What I’ve learned during this pandemic is that s--- like this just doesn’t matter."
And there are a couple of people in particular that he hopes get the message loud and clear — the 3-year-old twins he and husband Jason Landau share, daughter Willow and son Ethan.
"I’m trying to teach my kids to accept themselves & to be proud of who they are, & to put value on things that are IMPORTANT & REAL so as their father, the example should start with me."
And with that he told his followers, "This is that. I’ll go first. #ShowYourScars."
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: