Matt Bomer's ''first real acting role'' was pretending to be straight.

The 39-year-old actor grew up in a conservative Christian household in Texas and admitted he ''created a character'' in order to ''survive'', signing up for the school football team as well as the play, so he wouldn't be targeted for being homosexual and kept the ruse going for years.

He admitted: ''I created a character in order to survive...

''I used to work on a gas pipeline with my brother and I'm certain some of the people I worked with were ex-convicts. I had to learn how to protect myself in those environments.''

And the 'Magic Mike' actor was so convincing in his pretence, his brother thought he was joking when he came out to him at 24 and his parents couldn't believe the news when he wrote to them two years later.

He recalled: ''I was like, really? You're surprised?''

His parents didn't speak to him for six months afterwards, until he eventually went home and they had a row, but he was left pleasantly surprised by the reactions of some family members.

He told online journal Mr. Porter: ''You know who was coolest about it? My grandparents. They gave zero f***s. My grandma blows my mind. To me, she exemplifies what a loving, accepting Christian is.''

But these days, Matt - who publicly came out in 2012, a year after he married partner Simon Halls - and his parents get on well again.

Asked if their relationship is mended, he said: ''Yeah... I'll just say yes. When you're a family, you just table [put to one side] certain things in order to get to the business of loving each other. I feel very, very thankful to have the family that I do.''

While the 'White Collar' star - who raises sons Kit, 12, and nine-year-old twins Walker and Henry with his partner of ''over 10 years'' - is open about his sexuality, he understands why other actors have kept their own preferences concealed.

He said: ''I have dear friends who are [still in the closet]. As an artist, the last thing you want is one label to identify you. You want to be able to have complete freedom over your identity...

''It's an entirely subjective decision. I have kids. I didn't want them to think that I thought of them as something to be swept under the carpet.''