Fergus Greer/Botaish Group
March 10, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

If you think Jack McPhee’s (Kerr Smith) outing by a callous English teacher on ”Dawson’s Creek” smacks of real-life high school hell, you’d be right. ”It’s something that happened at the school of the writer who conceived this with me,” ”Creek” creator Kevin Williamson tells EW Online about the series’ latest juicy plot development. ”Everything we do on this show is so autobiographical, whether it’s me or the other writers — that’s what keeps it honest.”

Turning fact to fiction is especially important for Williamson this season with the addition of Jack to the show. ”This is the character I always wanted to live on ‘Dawson’s Creek’ for very personal reasons, and the timing was right. In Jack I wanted a character to represent my sexuality, which is my greatest asset in life,” says Williamson, who recently revealed to the media that he is gay. ”I wanted to show this whole coming-out process. And it’s going to be a struggle for him. He realizes it’s going to be a journey, and he’s afraid of taking it.”

Williamson, however, says that in his own life, becoming publicly gay didn’t cause much of a struggle. ”My family knows, everyone close to me knows,” he says. ”I don’t know anybody in my life who doesn’t know I’m gay, but no reporters had ever asked me a personal question before. It’s always, ‘What’s your favorite scary movie?’ and horror-movie stuff.”

But just as Jack worried about becoming the ”Ellen of Capeside” on ”Creek”‘s March 3 episode, Williamson prefers to avoid Ellen DeGeneres’ blunt onscreen approach to gay themes. ”Ellen chose to do it her way, and I applaud her because she paved the way for a lot of people and helped a lot of people,” says Williamson. ”She lives across the street from me, I love her. But I wanted to do it differently. I’ve always been one to avoid being on a soapbox and having the show preach, preach, preach. I think just by being true to the characters we are being responsible about it.”

Williamson, who’s also featuring the character of a closeted gay actor on his upcoming ABC series ”Wasteland,” admits that it’s getting easier to be open about homosexuality, especially for teens. ”I think there’s a level of acceptance that wasn’t around when I was growing up,” he says. But casting his new series has made it clear to him that not everyone can embrace the issue. ”You would be surprised how many name actors won’t play the part of the gay guy,” he says. ”I’m talking name actors who really need to reinvent themselves, and they won’t do it. They’re scared of being on a six-year series stereotyped as a gay guy, and they don’t understand that this is the journey that they should take because this is the one where they get to laugh at the whole process of being a gay actor in Hollywood. It’s fun — it’s a wink-wink.”

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