Sean Hayes Says Even Massive ‘Will & Grace’ Fans Sent Him Homophobic Hate Mail

Hayes’ performance as one of the first openly gay characters in multi-camera history caused a conflicted bigot to express some hypocritical praise
Sean Hayes Says Even Massive ‘Will & Grace’ Fans Sent Him Homophobic Hate Mail

A sitcom that featured openly gay characters shouldn’t have been nearly as controversial at the turn of the millennium as Will & Grace was among conservative Americans — but that didn’t stop right-wing bigots from watching it anyways.

Since the original conclusion of the hit NBC sitcom Will & Grace in 2006, LGBTQ+-inclusive media has slowly become more acceptable to mainstream audiences as most sane people came to realize that two gay men and a laugh track didn’t actually destroy the nuclear family on a weekly basis. Though homophobic culture warriors have sadly grown more emboldened to call every instance of queer representation in comedy some combination of grooming, virtue signaling or a woke psyop in the last few years, it would be entirely unremarkable in the current TV climate for a major network such as NBC to include openly gay characters in its latest multi-camera sitcom about single, well-to-do white people living in New York City.

However, back when Will & Grace was triggering the pearl-clutchers and prejudicial TV-watchers of pop culture, Sean Hayes’ performance as the flamboyant and free-spirited Jack McFarland was so progressive and groundbreaking that it earned the Emmy-winner death threats and homophobic hate mail in droves. 

On a recent episode of Hayes’ podcast SmartLess, which he co-hosts with fellow early-Aughts sitcom stars Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, Hayes reflected on all the upsetting “fan” mail he received throughout his big break, focusing on a confusing and hilarious letter he received from a woman who hated gay people such as himself even though she loved Will & Grace as a whole. 

That’s like hating Jews but loving Seinfeld.

“In the beginning of Will & Grace, we used to get death threats all the time,” Hayes told his co-hosts and their guest, former Daily Show host Trevor Noah. However, the highlight of Hayes tenure as the unwilling pen pal of Americas most unhinged bigots wasnt a threat of violence, but a completely conflicted missive from a homophobic woman who couldnt help but tune in to NBC every week to see what Will, Grace, Jack and Karen were up to.

Hayes called the hate mail in question “one of the greatest letters we ever got,” remarking of the work put in by the hypocritical homophobe, “This woman wrote in to Will & Grace, took the time, got a pen, paper, wrote it, got a stamp, mailed it. Remember this was before the internet and everything. It’s a lot of effort to really share with someone how much you hate them.” 

“This one woman wrote in and she said, ‘You’re all going to hell. You should be ashamed for putting this on television. You’re all horrible people. But, I love the show, I just dont like what it’s about,’” Hayes recounted to the laughter of his podcasting peers, adding, “It was the craziest thing.”

I like to imagine that, long before Hayes most loving hater got hooked on Will & Grace, she wrote letters to Norman Lear telling him that she loved Good Times but wondered if he could take out all the Black people.


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