Kenny Whittle for GAY TIMES

Former GAY TIMES cover star Ncuti Gatwa has opened up about his sexuality for the first time.

Speaking to ELLE UK, the Doctor Who star recounted his experiences playing Sex Education‘s Eric – a Netflix fan-favourite character – and how this shaped his own personal journey.

“I remember being at Manchester Pride, going through the streets with all my boys, shaking my cha-chas, living it up, when I saw this woman who looked exactly like my auntie,” Gatwa recalled.

“We were holding hands, and she said to me, ‘I don’t really know why I’m here. I’m just here.’ I told her, ‘Honey, you don’t need to know. You absolutely. Do not. Need. To. Know. You’re here. Be proud of who you are.’”

In that moment, the star reflected on having “never met another queer Rwandan person before”. Adding, “I thought I was the only one in the world.”

As for playing the beloved Eric, the Sex Education role taught Gatwa “the importance of representation: it’s so powerful and necessary.”

Gatwa has previously chosen to shield how he identifies. Earlier this year, for British Vogue’s Pride issue, the actor discussed having his identity constantly under speculation.

“After Sex Education, we all became public property, to an extent. You have to fight for your right to privacy after that, but you also do feel like you own people something,” Gatwa explained.

“In setting my boundaries, I knew I wanted to separate the private and public, and that I never wanted my personal life to overshadow my work.”

READ MORE: Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa addresses fan speculation about his sexuality

Since then, the actor has come a long way in becoming publicly comfortable with how he identifies. And, with an incredible roster of projects on the way, Gatwa’s name is set to become even more of a household title.

With the Doctor Who actor now openly identifying as LGBTQIA+, this sets up the BBC series to have a pretty queer cast.

The legacy British show is set to star Neil Patrick Harris and Heartstopper rising star Yasmin Finney and, now, it’s first-ever Black and queer Doctor. So, buckle down, because the show’s returns – this November – will be one you won’t want to miss.

And, for those who might have an issue with Gatwa being the next Doctor, well, the 30-year-old has a response to hand. “What are you going to do, tell the same stories? Have the same people fronting things for all of eternity?” he told the UK magazine.

The actor also dismissed claims of his roles being a “box-ticking” exercise for diversity: “You people with your tiny mindsets — open a book, look out the window and then fuck off.”

So, with a new season of Sex Education on the way and a history-making Doctor Who moment on the books, get ready for a small-screen Gatwa summer takeover.

Watch Doctor Who’s official trailer, featuring Gatwa’s series debut, below.