Content Warning: This story discusses suicide and substance use. If you or someone you know is facing a mental health crisis, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or +1 (800) 273-TALK (8255). Alternatively, you can contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Former Disney star Karan Brar came out as bisexual in a heartfelt and powerful essay he penned for Teen Vogue, highlighting his struggles with mental health and the importance of seeking help.
In the essay, the 24-year-old actor shares his experiences of moving out of his parents’ home, a challenging decision for him as an Indian-American, and how this transition ultimately led to him opening up about his sexuality to his friends.
In 2019, Brar made the decision to move in with his best friends and fellow Disney colleagues Cameron Boyce and Sophie Reynolds. In his essay, he reflects on how this change allowed him to break down the barriers between “public Karan” and “private Karan.”
Brar shared that one night, while under the influence of alcohol, he mustered up the courage to come out as bisexual to his roommates. He admitted that, at the time, he was afraid his revelation might permanently change their perception of him, that they would want nothing to do with him after he told them.
Part of his letter reads:
The moment the words left my mouth, I regretted it. I could barely see straight, but I ended up trying to do some damage control anyway. The best thing I could think of came stumbling out of my mouth:
“If you guys want me to move out I can. Just give me two weeks to figure it ou–”
They interrupted me by hugging me from behind. Again, I told them I should move out. They told me I was being stupid. I told them I’d cover for them if people asked why we didn’t live together anymore. They said to shut the fuck up. I told them that they probably hated me. They said my bisexuality changed nothing for them. Eventually, I lost enough steam to finally go to bed. I was too afraid to sleep on my own so Sophie grabbed a bowl, put it by my side of the bed, and made herself comfortable on the other side.
They were both shocked when I came out, not because of my sexual identity, but because I genuinely thought they would want nothing to do with me after I told them. Today I can understand how absurd that was — Soph and Cam had been my best friends for years and loved me every step of the way. Why in the world would they stop then? I think I just convinced myself that this part of me would feel less like an invitation to know me better and more like a burden they had to endure.
However, Boyce tragically passed away shortly afterward due to complications from epilepsy. Brar reveals that the loss of his friend, coupled with other life challenges, began to weigh heavily on him, ultimately leading to suicidal thoughts. Fortunately, he took a positive step by voluntarily admitting himself into an inpatient treatment center.
Fast forward three years, Brar’s life has taken a positive turn. In his essay, he revealed, “While in treatment, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Major Depressive Disorder.” He continued, “It’s been ages since I’ve experienced a PTSD symptom, so much so that I don’t think I even meet the criteria for the diagnosis anymore. My depression has been in remission for some time, and with the help of my medication, I’m finding my emotions to be much more manageable. I’m no longer drowning in the grief of losing Cameron. Rather, I’m in acceptance of grief being an ever-changing experience I just have to see through.”
Read his essay in full here.
Karan Brar is best-known for his roles in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise and the Disney Channel show Jessie. He recently ventured into voice acting. He lends his voice to Prince Veer in the Disney Junior cartoon Mira, Royal Detective and portrays Sanjay “Jay” Tawde, a new iteration of Jason Todd, in the DC Elseworlds animated film Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham.