Until now Shawn Balentine was best known as one of those people who are important to the movies, but who we’re not supposed to notice – a stunt double. He’s stood in for the likes of Jack Black, Oliver Cooper, and Patton Oswalt when when derring-do was needed and the actors (or their insurance company) demanded it.
However Ballantine has now decided to reveal that he’s gay, becoming the first Hollywood stunt person to make such a public statement. He revealed the news in a lengthy Facebook post, saying, ‘There are so many layers that make a man, and even though I wear my heart on my sleeve, I rarely allow even my closest friends or family to see all of me. I’ve always just wanted to be Shawn the happy-go-lucky guy who never showed the vulnerability underneath. And I’ve always wanted my niece Rachel and nephews to be so damn proud to call me Uncle Shawn along with my sisters and Pops and Mom.
Now it’s time to peel back the layers. I’ve been waiting until I was ready to come out as gay man on my terms. I’m ready now.
‘This process has been painful along the way, including my Pops saying,“How and where did I go wrong? But I still love you either way, Son.” After not speaking for a while, he’s now proud to call me his son. My sister Sharol (who was killed by a drunk driver and I dedicate my sobriety to along with my niece and nephews) was always the one I confided in the most. But she’s no longer here for me physically, but her memory gives me strength. She was so strong and brave facing down lupus and raising an awesome daughter and son (who also died because of someone’s road rage, not even a mile from where my sister died). My oldest sister Peggy, with a infectious spirit for fun, raised two kick-butt sons and showed me how to see the good things in life. And through all this, my moms, whose sick right now, has been there for me.
‘I know I could lose friendships over this and work too. In the world where I work as a Stuntman/Stunt Coordinator this might be viewed as a big deal and that’s a big reason why I’ve held on to this layer for so long. I’ve been to the edge and back, praying and losing days of sleep over this decision, but if this helps even one or two out there from feeling alone, being blackmailed, or told to your face that someone doesn’t approve of your spiritual practices then I’m here for ya and have one HUGE shoulder you can lean on because I’ve been in your shoes. You will NOT go to hell or get stoned to death; which I was told just last week.
‘From this day forward I will no longer look at myself in the mirror ashamed of hiding this layer. I don’t give a damn if you like me or you don’t I’m not the kind of guy who wants to talk about being gay all the time or go marching down the street. But I need to be honest with myself and with all of you. I need to get this off my chest because this is the layer I’ve never wanted to let you know existed.
‘I have been blessed to be mentored by and learn from great instructors, coaches, sensei’s, and teachers from 4H, martial arts, the US Army, college and the professional world. My heartfelt thanks to Richard Plowden, Joe Bauer, Kathy Powers Forsythe, Walt Rodd, Jordan Ciambrone, Matt Mallen, Nicholas Daines, Ronnie Kerr, Tammie Baird, Brett Lynch, Scott G Shriner, Ed Lavelle, Peter King, Norman Howell, Neal Baer,the Amazing Patton Oswalt for allowing me to be his stunt double/doppelganger and most importantly to Marty Hornstein who always taught me to be who I am. And to all of my friends who have supported me, especially during this challenging period I give you my deepest thanks.
‘I didn’t choose to be gay; it’s simply who I am. I have been blessed to have fortitude and to not care anymore what anyone thinks. Finally, at my age, I’ve been able to expose this layer to all of you. I’m perfect just the way I am. And it feels damn fine to let see this layer of my life. Welcome friends, to knowing the real Shawn.’
Patton Oswalt has expressed his support, saying, ‘He’s a top-shelf professional stuntman and an amazing person. He’s also the first professional stuntman to come out of the closet. He wrote this smart, touching, and funny post about what’s he’s been going through and where he is now.”
‘I could not be prouder of the guy. I’d walk through fire for him. Which is fair, considering he’s walked through explosions, walls and, on BROOKLYN NINE NINE, a kiddie pool full of tomato sauce.’
Take a look at Balentine’s post below.