EXCLUSIVE: Neil Patrick Harris Tells PEOPLE He Is Gay

11/03/2006 at 06:55 PM EST

EXCLUSIVE: Neil Patrick Harris Tells PEOPLE He Is Gay
Neil Patrick Harris
Zach Lipp/AdMedia
Neil Patrick Harris is gay – and wants to quell recent reports that he had denied it. The actor tells PEOPLE exclusively:

"The public eye has always been kind to me, and until recently I have been able to live a pretty normal life. Now it seems there is speculation and interest in my private life and relationships.

"So, rather than ignore those who choose to publish their opinions without actually talking to me, I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love."

Harris, 33, currently stars in the CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother. He shot to fame in 1989 at age 16 when he played a teen-prodigy doctor on the hit Doogie Howser, M.D. "It was a very fast but wonderful education," he told PEOPLE in 1998.

After the show went off the air in 1993, he shook off his teen image with roles in the musicals Rent and Assassins and a wild turn as an unhinged version himself in the 2004 movie Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.

"I'm enjoying my 30s," he told PEOPLE in 2004. "I feel like I know where I'm going. And I like where I'm going."

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