Doogie Howzer, MD: Young, Genius, and Gay

By Walter Armstrong

Neil Patrick Harris, the comic actor who made his name as the teen prodigy in the hit Doogie Howzer, MD, and now, at age 33, plays the womanizing Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother, has come out as a gay man.

In what has been a long season of lurid political outings, kicked off by former New Jersey governor James "I am a gay American" McGreevey's book tour and climaxing in anti-gay Christian evangelical bigwig Ted Haggart's fall from grace, Harris' public statement marked a comparatively low-key, even dignified, contrast.

"I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions," Harris told, "and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love."

One rumor that Harris' coming out did not dispel was the recent report that may have triggered his truth telling. In October, the web site posted that Harris had helped his "longtime sweetheart," actor David Burtka, land a part on How I Met Your Mother.

Then other gossip and gay bloggers got in on the act, flinging reports, rumors and worse-than-rumors at the story in what has become a common cyber version of "smear the queer." When the subject of Harris' possible homosexuality hit critical mass and threatened to become news reported in the entertainment media, Harris' publicist took action, saying that the actor is "not of that persuasion."

At that point Harris, apparently back in touch with his inner Doogie Howser, decided to step up and set the record straight.

But if Harris' pronouncement to People did not have the predictable snap of the 16-year-old Dr. Howzer telling doubtful patients, "I may be a kid, but I'm also a genius," the upcoming season of Harris real-life outing, complete with cover stories and TV interviews, will likely offer plenty of opportunities for that.