Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
10/15/2011 at 03:00 PM EDT
Zachary Quinto's eight-month run in the recent New York stage revival of Angels in America
was an eye-opening experience for him.
Since the project, the actor, 34 – who had an acclaimed role as Louis Ironson, a man who abandons his AIDS-stricken boyfriend – publicly discusses his much-questioned sexual orientation for the first time.
In a new interview in New York
, Quinto calls his work in the off-Broadway play the "most challenging thing I've ever done as an actor, and the most rewarding."
"At the same time," he adds, "as a gay man, it made me feel like there's still so much work to be done, and there's still so many things that need to be looked at and addressed."
Later in the interview, when the topic changes to legalizing gay marriage and the suicide of bullied gay teen Jamey Rodemeyer, the actor once again refers to himself as a "gay man." He says that when it comes to the different rights and treatment that come with being homosexual, "there's a hopelessness that surrounds it."
"Where's this disparity coming from, and why can't we as a culture and society dig deeper to examine that?" he says. "We're terrified of facing ourselves."
The star of Star Trek
and TV's Heroes
had long refused to comment about his sexuality, though he has been an outspoken supporter
of bully victims and has played a number of gay roles, including on Tori Spelling
's TV show So NoTORIous
and on the new FX series American Horror Story