The 46-year-old actor talked about his sexuality during a conversation with his Council of Dads co-star, Sarah Wayne Callies. The two discussed his character on the NBC drama, Dr. Oliver Post, who is a married gay man with a daughter. Callies said viewers have never seen this type of relationship on network television before, and Richards acknowledged that he felt both pressure and a sense of responsibility when taking on the role.
"If I think about why I even got involved in this industry, it was really to combat oppression," Richards said. "I knew how I was affected by the people of color I saw on television -- or that I didn't see on television -- so, this being a married, gay man, with a family, you know I realize that on television, I don't take anything I do lightly, and you have an opportunity to put an image into millions of homes. I wanted that image to be honest and I wanted it to be correct."
"So, honestly, it required me to show up fully in a way that I don't always when I'm working," he continued. "I knew that I could not portray this gay man honestly without letting you all know that I was a gay man myself. And I've never done that with the people that I've worked with. That responsibility carried me to do that because I knew how important it is to other people out there, like me, who would need to see that role model, so I took that responsibility very seriously."
On Wednesday, Richards thanked his Instagram followers for showing him support in a heartfelt post.
"Everyone said it would be but nothing could have prepared me," he wrote alongside a picture of himself wearing a rainbow T-shirt. "Yesterday was one of the best days of my life. 'Thank you' feels like cheap words to describe the depths of the gratitude I feel for your support and the crushing avalanche of LOVE I felt aimed at me yesterday."
"Who knew that something I once thought of as terrifying had within it something so beautiful... For every comment, like, emoji, repost, phone call, text message, everything," he continued. "I felt it ALL... Thank you!!! #PRIDE #LGBTQ #BlackLGBTQ #ComingOut #SelfLove #SelfAcceptance."
Aside from playing Deathlok on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Richards is also known for his numerous television roles on shows like Angel, Grey's Anatomy, Notorious, Conviction and Raising the Bar. In Council of Dads, which is about a cancer patient who asks three of his close friends to be father figures for his children after he dies, his character is one of the members of the chosen council of dads.
Meanwhile, ET spoke with Bachelor star Colton Underwood last month, and he talked about how his appearance on the dating show taught him valuable lessons about himself and his sexuality. Watch the video below for more: