But instead, the homophobic slur his "Grey's Anatomy" co-star made motivated Knight to tell his fans the truth last October -- and everything has been great ever since, he said Thursday as a guest on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
"I feel I've learned so much this past year, so I'm grateful for that," he told DeGeneres, according to a story from People.com. "So yeah, that changes you."
Although Knight, who plays Dr. George O'Malley on the critically-acclaimed ABC drama series, was courageous enough to come out of the closet, he admitted that it's not an easy thing to do, particularly for others in the public eye.
"Everyone has their own path," he said, according to the story. "You just have to respect that ... I don't think its right to force that. It's impossible to know. There's just a lot of soul searching you have to do."
Coming out also hasn't salted his game in love, he added.
"Recently Kate (co-star Katherine Heigl) and her fiance Josh Kelley and me and her mom went out to dinner," he told DeGeneres. "It was reported that it was me and my new boyfriend. But that was her mom.
"So I guess I'm dating Katherine's mom right now," he joked.
Knight stated that he is very happy with his life right now, primarily for two reasons. First, he was recently nominated for an Emmy as best supporting actor. Second, he has a new dog, which was given to him as a birthday present by Heigl, the story said.
"I had been talking about (getting a dog) for a while," Knight said. "I guess there's a point -- too much talk and not enough action -- so she made the decision. It was great. She showed up at my house with it."