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Howard Wise/JPI

The Daytime Emmy winner’s June 21 appearance on State of Mind marked the first time that most — perhaps even any? — of the soap’s viewers heard him refer to himself as a gay man.

When Young & Restless vet Christian Jules LeBlanc (Michael) told General Hospital star and State of Mind host Maurice Benard (Sonny) that even in 2021, he didn’t feel comfortable publicly holding the hand of his husband of nearly 30 years, fans reacted in general in two parts. First came surprise.

“Of all the things I have read over the years — and I even follow [LeBlanc] on social media — I never knew he was gay!” Kelli White Humes exclaimed on Soaps.com’s Facebook page.

Kelly F. Olmstead was similarly stunned, writing, “This blew me away. I’ve been watching The Young and the Restless for over 30 years and never would have thought this.”

In post after post, viewers expressed their shock. But as in the dark as they may have been, they were also glad that the actor brought to light this part of himself. “I am so happy after all of these years he can be true to himself,” Jodi Myers Harmon Facebooked, “and proud of who he is.”

“Kudos for coming out!” cheered Maria Nunez.

Among the well wishers were many who felt bad that LeBlanc wouldn’t hold his partner’s hand in public (and not only because they aren’t big PDA people). “It makes me sad that people are judged by who they love,” said Angela Wilson. LeBlanc is “a good actor and more than likely… a great person!

“All I can say,” she added, “is, Christian, you better hold that man’s hand, hun! Let ’em look!”

Christine Teetsel seconded that emotion, writing, “I hate that he and so many others don’t feel safe enough to completely live their truth.

“We are far ahead of where we once were,” she continued, “but clearly still have a long way to go!”

Before you bop along to read another article, check out the below photo gallery, which counts down the 25 most memorable Young & Restless characters of all time.