Last week, American actor Lee Pace revealed that he has dated both men and women.

The 38-year-old star, famous for his big-screen parts in The Hobbit and Guardians of the Galaxy, is currently starring in the Broadway revival of Angels In America as Joe Pitt, previously played by Russell Tovey in London.

Speaking about his role in the epic six-hour play, as well as his last Broadway appearance in The Normal Heart – both of which focus on the AIDS crisis of the 1980s – Lee says these stories are as important as ever.

“Our understanding of what it means to be gay is just so different [in 2018],” he told W Magazine.

“It’s culturally different. It’s just so much further down the road. It’s an interesting thing for me to think about in this moment while working on this play.”

He also highlighted the importance of gay roles being given to gay actors, especially in historical stories like Angels In America, but when asked about his own sexuality, he appeared taken aback and refused to label himself.

“I’ve dated men, I’ve dated women,” he said. “I don’t know why anyone would care. I’m an actor and I play roles. To be honest, I don’t know what to say – I find your question intrusive.”

It’s the first time he’s publicly addressed his sexuality since he was accidentally outed in a 2012 interview with Ian McKellen, who appeared to imply that Lee and several of his Hobbit co-stars were gay men.

Lee’s reaction to the question caused much debate, with some agreeing that he has a right to a private life, but others highlighting the importance of LGBTQ role models and visibility – especially in Hollywood.

The actor has now commented on the interview himself, confirming that he “understands the importance” of his coming out publicly.

“In a recent phone interview, I was asked questions that I wasn’t expecting and found myself momentarily at a loss for the right words,” he tweeted. “My privacy is important to me, so I protect it. When interviewed by the media, I keep the focus on my work.

“As a member of the queer community, I understand the importance of living openly, being counted, and happily owning who I am.

“That’s how I’ve always lived my life just as it’s been important to me to portray queer characters with dignity for my entire career: A Soldier’s Girl (Showtime. 2003). The Normal Heart (Broadway. 2011). Halt and Catch Fire (AMC. 2014-2017). Angels in America. (Broadway. NOW.)

“Onward, with Pride.”

You can catch Lee Pace in the Broadway revival of Angels In America, which is currently running at the Neil Simon Theatre.