"Hedwig is bringing up a lot of super insecure things within me," the actor tells Out for its April cover story. "I have never thought drag was intoxicating, I've never had a fun drunken Halloween in drag, never been in heels, really." (Notable exception: he ably accepted the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year Award in drag in February, although he donned a more traditional tux while attending a gala for the group Monday night.)
"I've lived my whole life being attracted by masculinity – it’s why I like guys," he also tells the magazine. "I'm not a super effete person, and I have to turn into that, and in doing so it brings up a lot of homophobic insecurities within myself."
Yet there is little doubt Harris, 40, who came out to PEOPLE in 2006, is up to the challenge. The consummate performer under pressure – who is repeatedly tapped to host awards shows, including the Emmys and Tonys – takes on the title role after wrapping up his longtime stint as reformed womanizer Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother, with its series finale airing March 31.
Harris's title role in Hedwig is a huge departure from his wisecracking Stinson alter ego, but despite his fears he sounds ready to embrace it.
"I'm anxious, one night, to fall backwards and be led on my back by people with their hands outstretched," he tells the magazine.
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The new gig also allows Harris and his family – including fiancé David Burtka and 3-year-old twins Gideon and Harper – to relocate to New York.
The duo recently bought a home in Harlem and Harris says he enjoys living on the East Coast, "where there's a much greater acceptance of anonymity and freedom."
However, it's hard for Harris to escape his many admirers – both male and female – who are undeterred by the realities of his life.
"I’ve found that a lot of girls have no issue with me being gay. They still want to marry me," he says. "And I love that."