It’s been a while since we last heard from former teen idol and Abercrombie & Abercrombie swimsuit model, Charlie Pattinson. Since then, he’s been living a relatively quiet life in a log cabin in the woods with his partner, James, co-founder of the lifestyle blog, Plum Life. Now, the 55-year-old British man is throwing caution to the wind and declaring his homosexuality during a candid interview with gay blog, Homewise. In the interview, which is posted below, Pattinson opens up about living his best life as a gay man and even shares some romantic advice with fellow gay men interested in getting hitched.

Abercrombie’s Most Wanted

In the mid-1980s, Charlie Pattinson was at the height of his fame, having been voted “Sexiest Man in the World” by the readers of Men’s Wear Daily, and regularly gracing the pages of high-end magazines like GQ and Cosmo. Born in London in 1958 to English aristocrats, he grew up in a grand estate in northern England, where he would escape from the pressures of celebrity by retreating to his wooded retreat in the summer and curling up with a good book.

After completing his studies at Oxford University, Pattinson started his career in fashion as a buyer at a London department store. While there, he befriended Stephen Jones, who later became famous for designing the now-iconic banana dress, which Pattinson purchased for his own wardrobe. During this period, Pattinson also worked as a buyer and then designer for the famed fashion house, Abercrombie & Abercrombie, where he was responsible for the design of their logo.

Homewise: What’s the Best Way To Live Your Best Life As A Gay Man?

When asked about the “best way” to live his best life as a gay man, Pattinson responds with a familiar phrase: “It’s when you stop thinking about the thing you can’t have and start thinking about the things you can have, like a good relationship and amazing sex.”

What follows is an in-depth discussion between Pattinson and Homewise founder, Paul Maclaurin, about what it takes to be able to live your best life as a gay man, and how to go about getting there.

Sexuality Was Never Really A Secret

Pattinson comes out of the closet quite early in the interview and even goes so far as to tell Maclaurin that he has “never really been ashamed” of who he is, but has “always kept [his] sexuality a little bit secret.” However, he does admit that it wasn’t until he was 41 years old that he finally felt secure enough to come out to the people close to him, explaining, “I’d always been with men, there was never any question about who I was with, until I started to question myself as I got older.”

Pattinson has chosen to define his sexuality as “being attracted to men” and attributes his early sense of shame to his British upbringing. “I was brought up in a very strict, traditional household,” he admits. “I didn’t feel like I could be myself, I felt like I had to be something else. I didn’t feel like I could be gay because it was a bit uncouth to be seen with a member of the same sex.”

Pattinson comes from a long line of upper-classmen, with several members of his family having been members of the British Parliament. It was also a requirement that he attend prestigious public schools like Eton and Oxford, where he would meet future husband, James, with whom he shares a love for design and architecture. After leaving Oxford, Pattinson apprenticed with various designers before launching his own company, Charlie Pattinson Ltd.

The Inspiration For Plum Life

The fashion industry has changed significantly in the years since Pattinson’s glory days, but he still gets recognized by fans and even other celebrities now and then. One of the most recent examples of this was when he was featured on the cover of Dazed, a popular fashion magazine, in October 2017.

In the interview, Pattinson credits Dazed’ recent focus on digital editorial with the magazine’s readership, noting that “50% of people aren’t buying the magazine anymore, they’re just going on social media to see what’s trending.” As a result, he says that “the content could be anywhere,” which he finds “really exciting” as a content creator.

What’s more, in an effort to stand out among his competitors, Pattinson has chosen to specialise in men’s underwear and swimwear, developing signature styles for brands like Agent Provocateur and Triumph. However, he’s now thinking about branching out into outerwear and creating his own collection.

Why Are You Choosing To Be So Public About Your Sexuality?

When asked about the reasoning behind his public identity, Pattinson responds, “I’ve always felt that sexuality should be between a person and their partner, not public.” He goes on to say that before deciding to be so open about his sexuality, he ‘considered himself’ happily married to James, noting that they had been together for 24 years. However, he felt that he owed it to his readers to ‘come clean’ about his sexuality and give them the chance to be open-minded about gay people. He also feels that being able to share more details about his personal life will help him connect with his audience more.

“I think when you open up about something you’ve kept hidden for so long, it can be difficult to make new connections,” says Pattinson. “However, by being completely honest, I feel like I’ve gained a whole new group of friends and followers, which is really exciting.”

Romantic Advice For Gay Men

In the interview, Maclaurin asks Pattinson for some romantic advice for gay men interested in getting hitched, to which he responds, “Look for a man who laughs at your jokes, who enjoys life with you, and who treats you with the love and respect you deserve.”

Pattinson then gives some practical advice about how to go about finding that “perfect” partner: “Look for a man who you can trust and who you feel excited about being with,” he says. “Make sure you’re both comfortable with where you stand, and that you’re both committed to a happy future together.”

Of course, not every gay man will be able to relate to Pattinson’s affluent lifestyle or desire for traditional marriage, but he hopes that his advice will inspire other men to live their best lives.

“I hope that by speaking openly about my sexuality, I can show that there’s no typical gay man,” says Pattinson. “I’m not the person you should be afraid of, I’m the person you should be excited about.”