[WATCH] Noah Galvin (‘The Real O’Neals’) on ‘landmark’ role, Catholicism and ‘ridiculous’ backlash

“A network sitcom has never been narrated by a young gay man before so it is a little landmark,” says Noah Galvin as we chat via webcam (watch above) bout his role as Kenny O’Neal in ABC’s freshman sitcom “The Real O’Neals,” which has been renewed for a second season. Kenny is a teenager who comes out to his traditional Irish-Catholic family, though the character’s experience is much different from the actor’s. Unlike Kenny, Galvin grew up in the theater community, playing “every small boy in every new musical that was ever in development in New York City in the past 12 years.”

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Galvin adds, “The biggest similarity is that we’re both gay, but the differences lie in how we go about the world. Kenny is definitely emotionally healthier than I am. He’s book smart, and I’m a little more street smart. He has a hard time holding things in. He wears his emotions on his sleeve.”

“The Real O’Neals” was originally developed as the true story of gay writer and activist Dan Savage, but it changed direction and ultimately “used Dan’s story as more of a launching pad.” Savage remains on-board as an executive producer, and since he’s such a lightning rod for religious conservatives, there were protests against the show before it even aired.

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“These people don’t even watch the show, which is even more ridiculous,” says Galvin. “People would tweet at us and write things on Facebook. The Catholic League took out an $8,000 ad in the New York Times saying, ‘Shame on you, Disney/ABC!'” But that controversy was never really felt by the actors or writers.

The irony is that “The Real O’Neals” isn’t anti-Catholic at all. In fact, it’s often quite positive: “Catholicism was a big part of my childhood,” Galvin explains, “and it’s interesting to revisit that through somebody else’s eyes who really connects with Catholicism. I didn’t necessarily, but Kenny really does. It’s a cool thing that we can show kids who might be gay that even if their families are super religious, you can be religious and be homosexual. They’re not mutually exclusive.”

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