The US actor, 54, appeared on the Irish presenter’s BBC chat programme The Graham Norton Show to talk about his biographical drama Rustin, in which he stars as gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. Domingo is nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance.
Talk later turned to the tale of how the actor, known for his roles in Euphoria, If Beale Street Could Talk and Selma, came to meet the love of his life through a Craigslist advert after first spotting him on the street while living in Berkeley, California, in 2005.
Domingo said he was shopping in Walgreens on Sunday evening when he left the store and spotted a man walking out, “beautiful hair, lip piercing, beautiful”, when their eyes met.
The man was with a friend who appeared to be having an angry conversation on the phone, Domingo said.
“He kept looking at me, and I was like, ‘what’s going on?’” Domingo said.
He ended up ending his own call with a friend to watch the man and his friend walking down the street, “as he keeps looking back”.
Domingo waved but the man left with his friend, so the actor went into a Blockbuster video store, checked the time then decided to come back a week later, in case the man was there again.
“I’m that kind of hopeless romantic,” he joked.
Three days later, he was on his computer scanning Craigslist when he decided to place a “missed connections” advert, only to stumble upon one that the man, Raúl, had placed just two hours before.
“He described me with my faux-hawk (it was 2005)… we met up three days later, we had our first date,” he recalled.
He ended up staying over at Raúl’s request then, at 4am, found he couldn’t sleep.
“I said, ‘I think I love you and you’re about to change my life,’”’ he said, “and we’ve been together almost 19 years.”
Domingo’s story left Norton and the other guests visibly stunned, as the audience broke out into applause.
“You’re like the most magical creature on the planet,” Johnson told him.
“I think I’m somebody who believes magic happens,” Domingo said. “I really do believe that.”
Domingo’s Oscar nomination for Best Actor marks only the second time that an “out” gay actor has been recognised by the Academy for the portrayal of a gay character, following Ian McKellen’s performance of real-life director James Whale in the 1999 period drama Gods and Monsters.
When Domingo spoke to The Independent ahead of Rustin’s release in November, he noted that although he and Rustin were both “openly gay”, it didn’t give him a shortcut to figuring out how best to portray the historical figure.
“It’s funny… if people know that we’re both openly gay, they think there must clearly be some part of me in him. But I had to build this character like any other,” he explained.
“The vicious pimp I played in [2020 crime drama] Zola, or the father in [2018 James Baldwin adaptation] If Beale Street Could Talk… I had to build them the exact same way, and then infuse with what I can access in my soul.”
The 2024 Oscars take place on Sunday 10 March.