Sara Gilbert Revealed She Was Gay To Then-Boyfriend Johnny Galecki While On ‘Roseanne,’ He Supported Her Since

Sara Gilbert is best known for her role as Darlene Conner on the sitcom “Roseanne.” She then starred in the spin-off, “The Conners.” Audiences will also recognize Gilbert from her work on “The Big Bang Theory,” where she plays Leslie Winkle. 

Off-screen, the actress and her reoccurring co-star Johnny Galecki have been romantically linked for years. The two worked together on “Roseanne” and later “The Big Bang Theory.” Having seen their characters date on-screen, audiences were delighted in watching their relationship grow once the cameras were turned off. However, Gilbert and Galecki were ultimately fated to be just friends as she realized during the course of their relationship that she was queer. 

Both Gilbert and her sister, Melissa Gilbert, have spoken about the times in which she confided her feelings. Recalling that moment, Melissa said: “I took her to dinner when she was in her teens and I sat her down and I gave her this long speech about how much I love you and it doesn’t matter and you’re my darling and blah, blah, blah and you can tell me anything. And she looked (at) me and she said, ‘I’m not gay.’ And I was like, ‘OK, whatever.’”

She continued: “Years later she called me and we were having a conversation about something and she said, ‘You know, what if I just said that I’m gay,’ and I went, ‘And?’ I mean I think always I kinda knew.”

Gilbert also had similarly touching conversations with her once-boyfriend, Galecki, who had equally loving words of support.

Gilbert was born in 1975 into a family that was already involved in show business. Her grandfather, the comedy writer Harry Crane, created the show “The Honeymooners” while her siblings Melissa and Jonathan Gilbert starred in the popular series “Little House on the Prairie,” which ran for nine years from 1974. Gilbert soon developed an interest in acting as well, and after appearing in a few TV movies and commercials, landed the part of Darlene Connor on “Roseanne.” She played the sardonic middle child of Roseanne Barr’s fictional family on the hit sitcom that ran from 1988 to 1997. The series won acclaim and fans through one of television’s first depictions of a normal, blue-collar family and typical slice-of-life shenanigans. The show was also lauded for having relatively normal and unglamorous actors in starring roles who looked like normal people, such as Barr and Gilbert’s father on the show, played by John Goodman. The show has been remembered as one of American TV’s greatest, with its 1993 episode “A Stash from the Past” ranking 21 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time and 35 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

During the show’s run, Gilbert had begun attending Yale University, and the producers worked around her schedule to be able to keep her in the main cast. Gilbert graduated from the prestigious varsity with honors and a major in art, specializing in photography. While many thought it was the end of the road for the show when it ended in 1997, the era of sequels, revivals and reboots were to begin in the entertainment industry in the 2000s, and “Roseanne” was among popular shows looking at a possible resurrection.

Before an eight-episode revival series of “Roseanne” was picked up for development in 2017, Gilbert was not simply resting on her laurels. After the show’s initial run, the actress went on to star in a host of top programs, including “24,” “Will & Grace,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” and “ER.” In 2007, Gilbert appeared with her former co-star Galecki in his popular sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” as Leslie Winkle, a friend of Galecki’s character on the show, Leonard Hofstadter. While Gilbert was moved up into the main cast by the second season, in 2009, it was revealed the show’s producers were unsure how to develop her character and she was relegated from a regular to a recurring cast member. 

In 2010, Gilbert developed “The Talk,” a talk show in which multiple hosts, herself included, would discuss a broad range of subjects including current issues, human interest stories and particularly motherhood in its early stages. With a setup similar to “The View,” the show has seen a run of several high-profile hosts, including Sharon Osbourne, Leah Remini, Aisha Tyler and Julie Chen. In 2016, the show garnered producer Gilbert a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show.

It was on “The Talk” that Gilbert’s former co-star Goodman made an appearance for a sketch as their “Roseanne” character, which Gilbert later said prompted her to approach the show’s original cast members to see if they were interested in doing a reboot. When all signs looked positive, it was announced a reboot was in the works and the show eventually aired in 2018. It was successful enough for a 13-episode second season to be green-lit. However, a scandal involving Barr stopped the entire venture in its tracks.

In May 2018, Barr was fired from the revival series after posting a controversial tweet in regard to Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to former president Barack Obama. In the tweet, Barr had referred to her as if “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.” The racial overtones of the tweet caused an uproar and gained so much negative attention in the press that the revival of “Roseanne” was canceled. However, there was still a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a spin-off.

News of a spin-off based on Gilbert’s character surfaced in mid-2018, and after Barr gave up the rights to the show, “The Connors” was green-lit and would center around Darlene and her family instead. It premiered in October that same year and included the original cast – sans Barr – as well as a return of Galecki. A strong performer for ABC and fun family viewing that was a hit with audiences, “The Connors” hit its fifth season mark by 2022.

Gilbert attributed the show’s success to “the audience wanting to see stories that haven’t been told yet” but stopped short of taking full credit, adding “so often there are elements outside of your control. You do your best and then stars align, or they don’t.” She also recognized how important it was, not only for those working on the show, but the fans as well, to stick around, telling Variety “I’m so grateful to the fans and the writers and the cast and producers and everybody for hanging in there, and like I said, the fans for continuing to watch because it was a big change.”

While Gilbert has been fairly private about her personal life, on an appearance on “The Drew Barrymore Show,” she revealed some insight into a cute moment in her past with Barrymore, whom she starred in the film “Poison Ivy” with in 1992. In a segment where Gilbert is prompted to reveal which of three “facts” about herself are truths, she said:

“The true one is C, my first girl kiss was with Drew. And now I’m not one to kiss and tell, but I have to say … look, now I’m like going to blush! Drew was the coolest person I ever met and yeah, that’s what happened.”

Barrymore then recalled they were supposed to share a kiss in the film and had done the necessary “research.” “We were supposed to kiss in the movie and then we started practicing in the trailer, which was kind of fun,” Barrymore said.

The talk show host continued: “We were like, ‘Oh, I guess we should practice, because we wanted it to look good on screen. We had so much fun. I remember, I feel like it was in the parking lot in Los Feliz, right? I feel like we had that little basecamp. I drove that Jeep and I used to go get like ice cream on lunch breaks and I was constantly getting into accidents. I think I got my license taken away on that movie.” Gilbert then responded with a recollection of Barrymore’s fun-loving tendencies, “I remember you dancing on the hood of the Jeep.”

Although the pair were never romantically involved, Gilbert did have her fair share of ups and downs in love.

Despite only confirming her sexuality publicly in later years, Gilbert had been in a relationship with television producer and writer Ali Adler since 2001, keeping it under wraps. In October 2004, they welcomed their first child – a son, Levi Hank, born to Adler – and in August 2007, they had a daughter, Sawyer Jane, born to Gilbert. Throughout this time, Gilbert remained mum publicly about her personal life, so many were unaware that she was in a relationship with a woman. However, the couple split in 2011.

In 2013, it was announced that Gilbert was engaged to musician and former frontwoman of the rock band 4 Non Blondes, Linda Perry. The pair married in a picturesque ceremony in Malibu, California the following year in quite the musical affair, according to People. Not only did Perry herself perform at the wedding, other musically-inclined guests included Annabella Lwin from Bow Wow Wow; Martha Davis from The Motels; Dale Bozzio from Missing Persons and Terri Nunn from Berlin. 

In 2015, Gilbert gave birth to their first child together, a son, Rhodes Emilio. But after nearly six years of marriage, Gilbert filed for divorce in 2019, citing irreconcilable differences. That same year, Gilbert announced she was leaving “The Talk” to spend more time with her family. A month later, Gilbert posted a sweet clip of her and her best friend, Galecki, on the set of the talk show, presumably celebrating the new chapter in her life. But for fans of Gilbert and “The Talk,” this wasn’t at all unusual as Gilbert had opened up on the show about the close and loving relationship she and her ex-boyfriend share.

During the interview, Gilbert opened up about her journey at the time. She began: “So, some of you may know, that when I was a teenager I dated Johnny Galecki for a little while, who played my boyfriend and husband on Roseanne.” Gilbert continued, exposing for the first time her feelings at the time, “I thought he was super cute and had a total crush on him and we started dating and he would come over and we would make out and then I would start to get depressed.”

An attentive partner, Galecki sensed something was wrong. Gilbert spoke to his reaction to her shift in mood, as she said: 

“Johnny felt badly, I think, and started to take it personally and didn’t know what was going on.” Gilbert then revealed that the two of them had quite a frank conversation. She explained, “I eventually told him that I thought it was about my sexuality and he was super sweet about it.” 

More than supportive, Galecki didn’t share what Gilbert had confided in him with anyone. Gilbert talked about how thankful she was for his secrecy, explaining how at the time she began dating another woman and yet “no one knew at the show for years.” Despite perhaps his own heartbreak in losing a partner, Galecki kept up the onscreen chemistry and kept Gilbert’s secret. She commented on this stalwart stance: “Johnny held this secret the whole time and I always felt so scared if it came out, what could happen? Could I lose my career?”

Gilbert remained fearful of the impact her sexuality would have on her career. However, eventually, she reached a point where it was perhaps more important to her emotionally to be open about her personal life. 

She touched on her motivations to finally have this conversation as a part of her interview on “The Talk.” She explained: 

“I want to live a true life. Beyond that, we do often say things like ‘it gets better’ — and it does get better. I have an amazing life, but there can still be a struggle with it, and that’s ok. There can be a part of you that doesn’t want to be different or feel scared. And that is more important than any of it.”

Remembering the sweet man who not only loved her when they were together but supported her in all the years since Gilbert said she spoke with Galecki before coming on the show. Given she would be revealing details about their relationship together, she wanted to make sure that he was okay with her spilling their secrets, especially after he had so dutifully kept them all those years. 

Galecki, still a co-star and clearly still a very close friend, told Gilbert: “‘I love you and I think it’s really important. I’m so proud of you. If you want, I’ll be there with you and I’ll hold your hand.’”

Gilbert is truly lucky to have such love and support in her life. While she and Galecki were quite the pair, it warms the heart to know that he — although broken up with — still supports her no matter what. 

What’s your favorite Sara Gilbert role? Let us know — and be sure to pass this article on to friends and family, as well as any fellow “Roseanne” fans!