Miss Memory Lane
In 2018 actor Colton Haynes received the Human Rights Campaign’s ‘Visibility Award’ for his GLBTQ+ advocacy. The ‘Teen Wolf’ and ‘Arrow’ star was on a mission to ‘pay it forward’ as an out gay actor and to expose an industry that tried to rob him of his gay identity. Haynes decided not to play along, but not before going on a bender of self-destructive, personal crisis. He tells the tales of his unlikely journey to stardom and its inescapable hazards in his memoir ‘Miss Memory Lane’ now available in paperback.
It might sound pretentious for an actor in his mid-30s, rare in a celebrity memoir that is not ghostwritten and one that is well crafted as this. He chronicles’ his harrowing childhood, his parents often battling each other in alcoholic rages, which resulted repeated separations and reconciliations. Colton and his brother Clinton absorbed all of the dysfunction. Their two two older sisters went to live with their grandparents.
Haynes describes growing up in a broken family and his perilous journey coming out as a teen, being secretly involved with several men, before becoming a teen model in New York. coping through self-destructive partying. Haynes’ relationship with his mother was lovingly codependent but often volatile in the extreme .
And at the heart of this, this is not a ‘star is born’ story, it is a survival guide for LGBTQ+ minors dealing with family rejection and Haynes grew up in Florida, Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico. By age 14, his mother had moved her sons to a relative’s farm in rural Kansas. Haynes was taking many risks being an out teen and navigating the maze of his queerness being an open secret in his family. He became bestie to a fellow semi-pro model and theater student who was also getting cast in professional productions.
One night they went to the area’s only gay club, Haynes disguising himself as old unsuccessfully, & was kicked out of the club. He swiped an id from one of his tricks and later gained entry, a talked the owner in letting him be a go-go boy. But by the time he was a teen, he was sexually active with several boys. At 16 he was involved with a 42-year-old police officer, who he writes in the book he seduced, even though the legally the man would have faced sexual abuse of a minor charges.
When he came out to his mother after being caught with another boy, she refused to accept it and he ran away. She eventually called social services to report him as a runaway minor. He was picked up and placed in a group facility for teens with mental issues.
Haynes was determined to become a model and lying about his age, ended up dancing at a gay club in Wichita Kansas He started to perform in plays in high school as he was scoping out modeling jobs in Wichita, where scam agencies would hold ‘auditions’ for an entrance fee. Even with these missteps, Colton landed a summer modelling job in NY. Shoot for teen ‘Abercrombie & Fitch.’ was also sexually active.
Episodes of ‘acting classes’ in Hollywood that asked the performers to do naked scenes so they could ‘get comfortable with their bodies. Haynes taking phone sex jobs and industry ‘assistant’ modeling jobs.
Still trying to make it as a model with an edge, his ‘lost boy’ of sinewy muscled ‘lost boy’ appeal, he describes not eating enough and taking Adderall which led to nonstop partying. The harrowing opening chapter of the book describes what could have been the end of the destructive road for Haynes. But he had long reconciled with his parents. And when his mother and he diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, he supported her and was by her side when she died in 2018. His memoir is dedicated to her.
Haynes was also becoming a social media star, with millions of fans, and was landing more commercial endorsement and making even more money. But at the height of his success, during a months-long series shoot and completely miserable living in Vancouver, he holes up in his digs, isolates from everyone, drugging and hook-up with men, but feeling more lost than ever. Haynes walked away from series television and went of a bender that almost resulted in accidental suicide.
He walked away from acting parts because of contract disputes, feeling exploited and more on principle than ego. And now Haynes is embarking on a different path with this book. In its unique structure leaving years of personal information off the page, you wonder when this successful model, actor turned GLTQ+ activist and now author will be penning a sequel.
Meanwhile, this is a fine non-fiction debut by a GLBTQ+ star advocate, so is ripe for right-wing politician for book banning hit list, which makes it a must read for GLBTQ+ youths.