“Baby Reindeer ”star Jessica Gunning recalls the liberation of coming out at 36: 'It all clicked'

"I realized I was a big old gay. I was like, that's what it's been. That's what it is.”

During a conversation about self-love, Baby Reindeer breakout Jessica Gunning looked back at the "liberating" moment when she came out two years ago, at the age of 36.

The English actress, who stars opposite Richard Gadd as stalker Martha in the Netflix hit, called it a "massive moment" during a recent appearance on the Reign With Josh Smith podcast.

“Do you feel like you're stepping into yourself in new ways now?” Smith asked.

Related: Baby Reindeer stars Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning open up about the 'complicated' stalker series

“Well, a big thing happened to me and maybe I'll just talk about it," Gunning said. "I came out actually in November '22. And that was a mega, mega thing for me. I'm surrounded by gays. Like, all my friends are gay, so it wasn't that I was I repressing anything. It was just that I didn't think I could be, and I still can't articulate it in the best way. But I realized I was a big old gay. I was like, that's what it's been. That's what it is."

<p>Leon Bennett/Getty</p> Jessica Gunning

Leon Bennett/Getty

Jessica Gunning

"That was a massive moment where everything kind of clicked," Gunning continued. "And I made sense of myself then. Because for so long — I'm a bigger woman, and I thought maybe it was to do with my size — I felt a little bit almost alien or like I was tagging along. But as soon as I realized, I was like, it's that. That was the most liberating thing."

In hindsight, “I used to like go downstairs and watch The L Word,” Gunning quipped, later adding, “And I used to wear dungarees, have a bum bag, wear a No Fear backwards cap when I was a teenager, so everyone around me probably was like, 'When is she gonna come out?' And it took me 36 years.” She called the experience "very freeing and very grounding.”

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Adapted from his one-man play, Baby Reindeer recounts Gadd's own real-life experience with a serial stalker (Gunning) during his earlier years as an aspiring stand-up comic. Gadd plays a fictionalized version of himself named Donny. The unnerving ordeal with Gunning's Martha brings to the surface long-repressed memories of sexual assault that Donny endured in the hands of an older mentor.

Much has been speculated about the identities of the people depicted, but Gadd is intent on shielding that from the public.

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"I've gone about telling this story how I want to tell it," Gadd said on Entertainment Weekly's Awardist podcast last month. "How I heal myself and my journey is up to me, really. I think it's a dark society that puts pressure on victims — survivors — of sexual abuse, to sort of do anything with it. Their job is to do what's right for them at the time . . .  I am not going to ever name the real-life people behind this show, and I don't think the pressure should be on survivors to out their abusers — the pressure should be on the abusers to stop abusing."

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