Shonda Rhimes-created shows tend to be heavy on sex and relationships. Grey’s Anatomy is no exception. The show has been forward-thinking and diverse in its 15 years on the air. The show started off with color-blind casting and featured a bisexual doctor, Callie Torres, for 10 seasons starting in 2006. Even the star of the show, Ellen Pompeo, said that the shows diversity was an incentive for her to remain a part of the cast. But the show had yet to feature a relationship between two gay male doctors until this season.

Jake Borelli was originally cast for a two-episode spot as Dr. Levi Schmitt. However, his character expanded throughout the last season. That made it no surprise when he stuck around. Throughout this season, a relationship between Schmitt and Dr. Nico Kim developed through winks, elevator kisses and glances.

Borelli took this in stride, using his character’s development to make an announcement about himself. In an Instagram post, he wrote, “As a gay guy myself, tonight’s episode was so special to me. This is exactly the kind of story I craved as a young gay kid growing up in Ohio, and it blows my mind that I’m able to bring life to Dr. Levi Schmitt as he begins to grapple with his own sexuality this season on Grey’s Anatomy. His vulnerability and courage inspire me every day, and I hope he can do the same for you.”

Though his family and friends had known about his sexuality for over a decade, Borelli hadn’t made it public knowledge. But when Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff called him to talk about Schmitt’s character arc, he knew he wanted to go public.

“From the beginning, I had a sense it was going to be important. It’s a milestone for the show and a milestone for representation in general,” he told HuffPost. “I thought, ‘OK, this is gonna be bigger than me.’ I’m in a position right now where I have a platform, and I think it’s really important to be honest and to put myself out there so that other people don’t feel as alone.”

Borelli’s Instagram post has over 64 thousand likes. He’s also been featured on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and Gay Times. 

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He’d go on to say that Schmitt has “stepped into his confidence. I hope that moving forward, he grows into the human and the doctor that he really needs to be.”

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