What a difference a year makes: T.R. Knight says his life has been better since he publicly came out of the closet amid on-set controversy last October.
"I feel I've learned so much this past year, so, I'm grateful for that, so yeah, that changes you," he said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Thursday.
Asked what he thinks about actors who do not come out of the closet, T.R. Knight said, "Everyone has their own path. You have to respect that... I don't think it's right to force it. It's impossible to know. There's a lot of soul searching you have to do."
Knight, who plays Dr. George O'Malley on the hit ABC drama, which returns with its fourth season premiere, "A Change is Gonna Come" tonight, got a nomination for a best supporting actor Emmy for his work in Season 3.
Just as importantly, though, he received a special birthday gift.
Co-star Katherine Heigl - who is also a close friend off-camera - surprised Knight with a puppy, which he named Arrow, on his 34th birthday.
"I had been talking about [getting a dog] for quite a while. I guess there's a point ... too much talk and not enough action," Knight said. "So Katherine made the decision. It was great, yeah. She showed up at my house with it."
Although he is happier with himself since he made his announcement, T.R. Knight says that coming out hasn't much affected his love life.
"Recently Kate [Heigl] and her fiancÃ©, Josh Kelley, and me and her mom went out to dinner, and it was reported that it was with me and my new boyfriend. But that was her mom," Knight joked. "So I guess I'm dating Katherine's mom now."