Paul Narita (Christopher Sean), a closeted professional baseball player, came out to his family in a scene spoken entirely in Japanese with English subtitles.
The same day that Fresh Off the Boat, the first Asian-American sitcom in 20 years, debuted on ABC, another groundbreaking moment took place on the 50-year-old daytime drama Days of Our Lives.
For months, Christopher Sean has played the role of Paul Narita — a half-Japanese professional baseball player visiting the town of Salem for arm surgery. When it was revealed that Paul was a closeted gay man, and the former love interest of out and married Sonny Kiriakis, he became one of three prominent gay Asian characters on broadcast television. (The others are Oliver Hampton on How to Get Away With Murder, played by Conrad Ricamora, and Brad Cooper on General Hospital, played by Parry Shen — both of whom are recurring and not contract cast members like Sean.)
As Paul began an affair with Will Horton, the writer assigned to do a cover story on his return to baseball post-surgery, he made the decision to come out publicly. Knowing that he would be coming out to the entire world, he attempted to get his mother and his grandfather to Salem to come out to them in person. When he was unable to, he made a heartbreaking phone call.
3. Paul tearfully came out to his mother, only for her to reveal she’s known he was gay his entire life but chose to say nothing for fear of upsetting Paul’s “traditional” grandfather…
4. Paul was devastated, but insisted on coming out to his grandfather. And since his grandfather only speaks Japanese, Paul did so as well.
The show provided subtitles for their conversation.
5. After Paul came out to his grandfather, he was stunned by his grandfather’s acceptance of his sexuality.
Paul was left feeling good about his decision to come out of the closet as a professional athlete, in order to inspire closeted teenagers who grew up with self-loathing like he did.
7. Sean is proud of his inspiring storyline:
I hope everyone enjoys today’s episode of #DAYS . I feel immense love for today’s episode. Thank you for sharing your support and love.
— ChristopherSean (@Christopher Sean)
8. So are fans of the show:
@ChristopherSean May your performance on #DOOL open many closet doors. Never lose hope, friends. There is love and acceptance. Paul rocks!
— GeoffreyToms (@Geoffrey Masaki)
9. And hopefully, now that Paul is out of the closet, we’ll get more scenes like this:
10. Watch Paul’s entire coming out-episode here.
CORRECTION: There’s actually a third prominent gay Asian character on television — General Hospital’s Brad, played by Parry Shen, who appears in a non-contract recurring capacity. An earlier version of this post said that there were two. (2/5/15)