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Dekker admits he would have jumped at the chance to play a gay "pioneer" and was upset that he only learned about Zach's sexuality just hours before he was due to shoot a prom scene with Panettiere

He tells Out magazine, "I went through the... roof! If you're going to have a gay character on your show come out and be a pioneer for kids, I would've liked to play that from the get-go from my perspective. I went to set and said to the writers, 'I really wish that it wouldn't have been five hours before I come into work that I get this news that (the character) I'd been playing for the last 12 episodes knows and is comfortable with the fact that he is gay. Because I would've played this very differently.'

"But I said I'd do it, and then a couple (of) hours later the creator, Tim Kring, showed up and said, 'No, no, no. We're going to change it (back to him being straight).'"

Several blogs had already printed rumours about Dekker's character 'coming out', and he reveals he was hurt by speculation that the storyline was axed because he'd refused to play a gay part.

He recalls, "The story became, 'Thomas Dekker is a homophobe' or 'Thomas Dekker is gay and uncomfortable playing it.' I was like 'How do people know this was supposed to be my coming-out episode when I didn't even know it was?' Then I found an interview the producers had given to a London paper while they were shooting the first episode, in which they said that my character was going to be gay. So they knew all along."