Gay 'Mean Girls' Actors Reveal How They Were Forced Into The Closet

Jun. 27 2018, Updated 8:53 p.m. ET

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Openly gay actors Jonathan Bennett and Daniel Franzese, who starred opposite Lindsay Lohan in the classic 2004 film comedy Mean Girls, have revealed how they were forced to stay in the closet back then.

Bennett, who played Lohan's hunky beau Aaron, and Franzese, who portrayed the star's gay best bud Damian in the movie, recalled how they had to keep their sexuality secret nearly 15 years ago.

The two spoke on comedian/actor Stephen Kramer Glickman's "The Night Time Show" podcast, recently recorded live at the Hollywood Improv.

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Bennett, now 37, told the crowd about Franzese, "His people were telling him, 'No, no no, don't come out, stay in the closet.' My people were like—"

Franzese, 40, interjected what Bennett's reps told him, "Get in there!, Aaron Samuels! Get in the closet, now!"

Bennett explained, "It was just a different time. Things were just weird."

When asked if they knew if each other were gay during Mean Girls filming, the actors said yes, midway through.

"It was like, 'Hey, girl,' " Franzese said to audience laughter. "I sniffed it out.

"I was like, oh, it's like you find the other unicorn in the village."

Franzese publicly revealed his homosexuality in 2014, the same year he had a sweet Mean Girls reunion with Lohan, now 31.

He said in the new interview, "We really have come a long way. The characters that were gay back in 2004 weren't as interesting as Damian was. They were like caricatures and a lot of like castrated punch lines. After doing something that was as progressive as Damian, the years that followed, there just wasn't those kinds of roles.

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"I was up there for the role of Turtle in Entourage…all of a sudden after Mean Girls, nothing, only gay offers and only these caricature kind of roles," Franzese recalled.

But Franzese persevered in Hollywood and went on to play the well-rounded HIV-positive character Eddie on HBO's show Looking.

On the personal front, Franzese and his fiancé, Joseph Bradley Phillips, just announced they have called off their engagement.

“Sometimes shooting stars shine so brightly that they burn out and now we must go separate ways but I hope my path always crosses with his,” Franzese told PEOPLE.

“Joseph Bradley Phillips and I have decided to part ways, break our engagement promise and continue on into the future as friends.”

Lohan's other Mean Girls co-star, Bennett, came out as gay in October 2017.

Three years earlier, Bennett had competed on Dancing with the Stars season 19, and in an embarrassing "oops," judge Julianne Hough accidentally outed him. At that time, Bennett hadn't yet come out of the closet.

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