“I'm queer,” he tells The Advocate in an interview for their April cover story. “I've identified as bisexual since a teenager.”
Growing up in Los Angeles, Blackburn, who describes himself as a “late-bloomer,” felt pressured to ignore the fluidity of his sexuality. “I got bullied a lot by other boys, and I just felt like my soul was slowly being taken from me,” said Blackburn. “I stopped doing so many of the things that I loved doing because it felt safer. That right there is the outcome of oppression. When you literally have to mute who you are in order to feel safe. That’s soul-crushing.”
Blackburn explained that he always had an “underlying curiosity” about dating men, but felt as though he didn’t have space to discover things for himself. He felt like he couldn’t address his sexuality with the public, in addition to pressure from the LGBTQ+ community to identify on a binary scale – either gay or straight, but not bisexual. “I heard so many things from within the queer community about bisexuality being a cop-out or bullshit or the easy way out or something, and that always stuck with me because I felt the pressure from all sides to have [my sexuality] figured out,” he said. It wasn’t until toward the end of filming Pretty Little Liars, he said, that he let himself stop wondering and explore his sexuality without putting other people’s opinions above his own.
His role on the show Rosewell, New Mexico couldn’t have come at a better time. Blackburn’s character, Sgt. Alex Manes, is a gay military veteran and an amputee. Having the opportunity to delve into a role rarely represented on-screen enabled Blackburn to delve into his own life off-screen.
Now, he feels confident in claiming his own space. “I just want to feel powerful in my own skin,” he said, “and my own mind, and in my own heart.”