Sara Gilbert may be out and proud now, but the actress struggled for years before coming out publicly in 2010.
On Thursday's The Talk, in honor of the show's "secrets" week, Gilbert discussed her battle to accept her sexuality when she was still on Roseanne. At the time, Gilbert had been dating her co-star Johnny Galecki, but after the couple would make out, Gilbert would always get depressed. Confused, Galecki would take this personally, until she "eventually told him I thought it was about my sexuality and he was super sweet about it."
Gilbert then began a relationship with a woman, though she was nowhere near ready to go public with her secret. "I started dating a woman who was like 18 years older than I was, who was also in the public eye," she continued. "It was something people could have found out about. Like no one knew at the show for years, and Johnny held the secret the whole time. And I always felt so scared. If it came out, what could happen? Could I lose my career? Will I ever be able to play a straight role again?"
Gilbert, who's engaged to Linda Perry, revealed that even now when "I talk about my sexuality on the show or in public I still feel really scared. So I'll try and act confident or I'll make jokes about it, but there's still a piece of me that goes 'Well, what is this costing me in my career?"
Gilbert, 38, added that these fears do not mean she hasn't fully accepted who she is. "It's not that I'm not thrilled to be who I am and so grateful to have the life that I have, because I really am, but, for example, even when I got engaged, there's a piece of me that's like 'Oh, wow. I got to say this now to everybody."
While Gilbert agreed that it does get better, she acknowledged that this doesn't mean that it won't take time. "I want people to know there can still be a struggle with it and that's okay," Gilbert explained. "It's a process and there can be a part of you that doesn't want to feel different or feel scared."
Before sharing her story, Gilbert, who has guest-starred on Galecki's show The Big Bang Theory, reached out to her ex and good friend. "I called him and I just said, 'Is it OK — I'm thinking of talking about this," Gilbert said, adding with a laugh, "The story sort of starts with you. And I've got to say I made out with you and got depressed, which is kind of a bummer."
Galecki remained as supportive as ever."[He said,] 'Of course. I love you and I think it's really important and I'm so proud of you. ... If you want, I will be there and I will hold your hand,'" Gilbert said. "And I just thought that was so sweet, and this story really makes Johnny look good."
Watch Gilbert's emotional revelation below.