10 Things You Didn’t Know about John Barrowman

John Barrowman is a Scottish-American actor, singer, presenter, and author. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland in March of 1967. He lived with his family, his mother, father, and two siblings, in Glasgow until he was nine years of age when his father was transferred with his company, to the state of Illinois in the US for a better position with his company. Barrowman has been acting since he was in high school, taking roles in school musicals and fine tuning his acting and singing skills that would eventually propel his career fast-forward into major theatrical productions and feature films. He is openly gay, and has posted many posts regarding his sexual orientation, on his social media, and speaks out for the gay community. He is a self-proclaimed gay icon and was finally able to legally wed his civil partner after 20 years after the law was passed for gay marriage. You may have seen this man in a musical, play or on the big screen, but here are 10 things you didn’t know about John Barrowman.

1. Spent his first eight years in Scotland

Barrowman was born in Glasgow, Scotland and spent his first nine years there. Although he has been gone from the country for over 40 decades, as far as living there, he says that Glasgow does and always will hold a very special spot in his life. He has been quoted as saying, “geographical location does not represent where the heart lies.” Then he added, We love being in Scotland, we love coming home. “When asked where his favorite place to go in Glasgow was, he replied, “Two Fat Ladies in Blythswod Square.”

2. The path of his future was changed by his music teacher

There are many actors that can pinpoint one person in their life that inspired them to follow their dream, or set them on the path that led them to where they are now. Barrowman has a similar story, and for him, it was his high school music teacher and English teacher that encouraged him to utilize his artistic abilities and let them lead him to better things. So he did. His English teacher moved him into the school’s Gifted Program and coached him for the speech team. His natural talent and hard work led him to compete statewide in speech competitions which sharpened his reading skills, which ultimately benefited him in reading scenes for plays.

3. The beginning of his career

After high school Barrowman’s professional career began to take off in the theatre in London’s West End. It was 1989 when Barrowman took on the role of Billy Crocker in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, playing at the Prince Edward Theatre. For the next ten years, Barrowman continued playing roles in West End Productions, including the title role of Domingo Hernandez in Matador at the Queen’s Theatre in 1991, and had the role of Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre in 1992. He’s also appeared in Beauty and the Beast and Miss Saigon, and Hair. 

4. He’s an author

Of course with such as story as Barrowman’s life has to tell, you would think, of course he’s got a memoir or two written about his life and experiences. Well, yes, he does in fact. He has written to memories and autobiographies, one, Anything Goes (2008), and I Am What I Am (2009), which his sister, Carole, co-authored. A few years later, Barrowman and his sister teamed up again and wrote a novel, Hollow Earth (2012). The second book in the series, Bone Quill, was released in the UK, and subsequently released in the US in July of 2013.

5. His book sparked controversy

At a book signing in Glasgow, Barrowman’s novel he co-wrote with his sister, gained some attention by a teacher in the city where a book signing was to take place, and suddenly, around 500 students were unable to purchase the book if  they chose. The book, aimed at 13 year olds, is said to feature a gay character, which did not sit right with one teacher who deemed it inappropriate, and did not allow his students to purchase the book at the event. This was upsetting for Barrowman and his sister, but they said that they would move forward with promoting their book and not let it get them down, or stand in their way.

6. Married his long-term Civil Partner

Barrowman and his legal civil partner, Scott Gill were finally able to tie the knot and make their partnership legal. They entered the civil partnership back in 2006, but following the Supreme Court’s decision to make gay marriage legal, their relationship took the next step. They married in California after being together 20 years, and immediately showed off their marriage certificate and wedding bands in photos they posted. Now they are looking into adopting a child. They say they don’t necessarily want a baby, but would rather adopt an older child, a teenager, and maybe one who has been troubled, or possibly a gay teen who has been tossed out of their home due to their sexual orientation.

7. How he compares Scotland to America

Growing up in two different countries certainly gives you different views of life. You have to kind of meld the two ways of life together and find a happy medium. You take what you learned, plus some of the values and traditions of the two countries, and meld them together. Barrowman says that growing up in his family, he is reminded of how his parents were a loving but strict. They were devoted to their children and were very mindful of etiquette. They were taught to be respectful and polite to others, which he attributes a lot to the fact that his young years were spent in Glasgow. When comparing Scotland to America, Barrowman had this to say; “Scotland gave us, as a family, closeness; America gave us the get-up-and-go.”

8. His father sold Caterpillars

No, these are not the furry little worms that eventually wind up flitting away with beautifully painted wings. These are the enormous heavy-duty pieces of machinery used in farming. While his mother worked as a clerk in a record shop in Glasgow, and spent time singing as well, his father was employed by one of the most popular names in farming equipment, Caterpillar. In 1975, Barrowman’s father relocated the family to the US, Aurora, Illinois to be exact, where he accepted a management position with the Caterpillar company.

9. He shoveled coal for the experience

Some parents really want their children to know what they will be up against in the world, especially when it comes to work and supporting yourself and family. In order to teach his children a lesson and let them know what their options would be in life, Barrowman’s father lined up labor jobs for his children. For the young John, who was a senior in high school at the time, shoveling coal for an Illinois power company was the job his father set up for him. His father had some words of advice, which were this: “If you want to do manual labor for the rest of your life you’ll know that when you do it; it’s a choice. But if you don’t like it, you’ll understand the importance of educating yourself and – if you decide what you want to do – being good at your craft or your skill.” After an entire summer of shoveling coal, Barrowman realized he didn’t like the tough job and convinced the power company to advance him to the storeroom.

10. Retains dual citizenship

When you grow up in one country and move to another, more than likely you will family in both and want to be able to travel back and forth when you want and need. Barrowman was able to get his citizenship for the United States after he graduated from high school in 1985, as well as he also has citizenship in the United Kingdom, which means that he is able to pick and choose where he lives, and freely travel between the two countries at his whim.


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