Jane Lynch, Glee-fully Happy

The "Glee" actress lets a few skeletons out of her closet in her new book, "Happy Accidents," on sale September 13, 2011. In the edited version of our interview with her, learn about her struggle with alcohol, coming out and being happily married.

Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
jane lynch image
Photograph: Adam Bouska

More: Congratulations on your new memoir, Happy Accidents. Why that particular title?
Jane Lynch: It works on many levels. The book is the conclusion of my life taking care of me. I learned I needed to go one way in order to do what I wanted to do.

More: In the book you talk about your teens and your struggle with your sexuality. Why was it a struggle? Were you trying to deny you were gay?
JL: Yeah. I wanted to be just like everyone else and fit in. I didn’t want to be different. I didn’t know anyone who was gay. I thought it was a sickness. I had friends one who told  me about boys holding hands in South Florida on the beach, and I thought to myself, “Oh my God, I have that, or at least the girl version of that.” It felt like a curse and this horrible thing that had befallen me. I knew I had to keep it a secret.

More: When did you know you were gay?
JL: When I was, like, 11 or 12, but I always knew I liked girls and didn’t want to be with boys. It wasn’t until my friends put a label to it that I was like, “Oh gosh, I have that. I am different.”

More: No one knew?
JL: No. I felt I didn’t even fit in with my family, even though I knew they were a very loving group of people. I was always looking to be understood. I remember walking up the street in my neighborhood and asking the women, “Do you understand me? Will you be my mommy?”

More: What did they say?
JL: I would find a few that would take me in and give me a cup of milk.

More: You write about how you turned to alcohol to deal with this struggle. 
JL: I loved the feeling of that soft place you go to when you drink. I was constantly searching for that place and so I ended up drinking too much.

More: Were you an alcoholic?
JL: I started around 14 years old and I drank until I was 31. Although everyone in my town drank when they were young, I was still drinking when everyone else was starting to get married and have children. It got to a point where I knew emotionally I had to quit. It was a big problem.

More: How big?
JL: I had debilitating hangovers. I lived to have the drink and I did anything I could to have the drink. It didn’t matter if I had to have it alone or in a bar—I just had to have it.

More: Did you drink when you got up?
JL: No. I would start around 5 pm. I wasn’t one of those people who got up looking for the drink or the drug. The people in town who knew me never knew I had a problem. But I knew I had a problem.

More: How did you hide your problem?
JL: I didn’t really hide it. Everyone in my culture did the same thing, only they didn’t suffer the way I did. I don’t think they had the compulsion the way I did.

More: What made you get sober? Did you hit rock bottom or get a kick in the tush?
JL: I got a wake-up call. I hit my own bottom. It wasn’t dramatic. I was struck sober. It wasn’t like things got really bad and I lost everything. I kind of got a plunk on the head and have been sober ever since. Something just clicked and I said, that’s it. After a few months of sobriety, I started going to AA and I've stuck with it ever since.

More: Now that you are a big star and attend tons of Hollywood parties, is it hard to be surrounded by people consuming alcohol?
JL: No. I have been sober 20 years, so I have been at this a long time. At the end of the day I rarely say, “Hey, I got through the day without drinking” because now it is my habit not to drink.

First Published September 13, 2011

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