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Harris, Neil Patrick (b. 1973)  
 
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Showing his sense of humor, Harris quipped, "They had [the character] wearing a really crazy tie-dye sleeveless vest with fur on it. I said if I have to dress like a crazy man on top of a unicorn, I just think I'll never hear the end of it. So I got to dress normally on top of a unicorn to save face."

Harris resumed his television career in the ensemble situation comedy How I Met Your Mother in 2005. As the womanizing Barney Stinson, he quickly became a fan favorite and earned accolades from critics as well, with Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2007 and 2008.

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Like Dan Butler, who portrayed a lascivious sportscaster on the sitcom Frasier (1993-2004), Harris was a gay man playing an aggressively heterosexual character. As How I Met Your Mother began its run, however, he had not made any public statements about his sexual orientation. Perhaps because of his visibility as a result of the popularity of the new show, Harris drew the attention of bloggers on the Internet, Perez Hilton chief among them, who cited rumors about his being gay and who called upon him to come out.

Harris responded with a dignified statement to People Weekly magazine in November 2006, in which he declared, "Now it seems there is speculation and interest in my private life and relationships. So, rather than ignore those who choose to publish their opinions without actually talking to me, I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest."

Harris subsequently explained that before coming out publicly, he had not concealed his sexual orientation from friends, family, or people with whom he worked. "Someone once said that their life was a open book, but they just didn't want to read it out loud," he said, paraphrasing gay actor David Hyde Pierce, who played the lovelorn heterosexual Dr. Niles Crane on Frasier. "Everyone at work knew who I was dating, and I didn't try to pretend like I wasn't the person that I am."

Harris's partner is actor David Burtka. The couple has exchanged rings to symbolize their commitment to each other. In August 2010, the couple revealed that they were parents-to-be, expecting twins via a surrogate mother. The twins, Gideon Scott Burtka-Harris and Harper Grace Burtka-Harris, were born on October 12, 2010.

The couple alternate spending major holidays with Harris's family in New Mexico and Burtka's family in Michigan.

A flurry of media attention followed Harris's public coming out, but his career did not suffer. "The impact was minimal, and that in turn had great impact on me," stated Harris.

His continuing popularity even led to a job in an amusing television commercial for Old Spice, a maker of men's toiletries. The commercial, which spoofs television medical shows, begins with a serious-looking Harris opening a door in a hospital and announcing that "chronic body odor ruins lives." He then cites his credentials as "a former make-believe doctor" and begins strolling through the corridors of the hospital and extolling the merits of Old Spice, oblivious to the chaos reigning around him.

During the television writers' strike in 2008, Harris jumped at the opportunity to star in a 42-minute Joss Whedon film. "An Internet musical about a lovelorn would-be supervillain and the video blog he records in his home doesn't exactly scream surefire hit," wrote Adam B. Vary, "but that's just what Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog became in the wee hours of July 15." The hastily shot film became an Internet phenomenon, with 2.2 million views during its first week online despite the fact that the web site crashed at one point because of the volume.

Harris took part in another 2008 Internet production, Marc Shaiman's Prop 8: The Musical, portraying "A Very Smart Fellow" in the witty piece that Shaiman, as he said, wrote six weeks too late, after California voters had passed a measure against marriage equality.

Although upon first coming out publicly Harris said that he did not view himself as an advocate for glbtq rights, he has grown in that role. In addition to taking a stand against the insidious Proposition 8, he has been a strong supporter of The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization for the welfare of glbtq young people that offers an around-the-clock suicide-prevention hotline, 1-866-4-U-TREVOR.

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