I’m not one to shy away from planning personal goals months in advance. Strategizing, outlining and checking off boxes is mainly for my own peace of mind more than anything else. However, I’ve learned that telling yourself what tomorrow holds is usually a waste of time. Destiny has a funny — or shall I say amusing — way of taking hold of well-thought ideas and shaking life up like a snow globe.
So, I got to thinking about this past year and the roller coaster ride it has been for many people. With that shiny bright number “2018” at the forefront of our minds, I know most of us are ready to start with a clean slate.
Before you start posting about your New Year’s resolutions, booking that trainer, meal prepping, updating your resume or creating that vision board, I challenge you to dive a bit deeper into your soul and think about the word “accountability.”
My experience in moving forward in life has a lot to do with taking accountability for my own actions, life decisions and personal choices. You see, if you look at your life as a blank canvas and yourself as the painter choosing which colors to create the perfect picture, you either consciously choose colors you know will turn out to be beautiful or just randomly start dipping your brush into your palette and hope your abstract motions make sense. Whichever way you go about making your work of art come to life, once you are finished, you must take ownership and hold yourself accountable. This is the same for the choices you’ve made this past year that guided you to where you are today. That is why I want you to focus carefully on your desires moving into 2018 and how you can strive to do better, make wiser decisions and have an even stronger outlook on your life.
This can all be done by taking accountability for your past and owning your decisions for the year ahead. Here are a few suggestions to help guide you on your way:
Start at home. Whether you live by yourself or have a family of four, your home should be a structured sanctuary filled with support and some kind of feeling of peace. Delete any unnecessary chaos or bills that are adding stress to your plate. Work at being a better communicator to your spouse, a more present parent to your children, or a leader when it comes to creating happiness within your home. Tell your family that you plan on doing so, too.
Say sorry. Every day, obstacles often make us react without thinking. Do you know that line, “What were you thinking when you weren’t thinking?” Well, if there is somebody in your life that deserves an apology, I suggest you put your pride to the side and make it happen. It may not have an impact today or tomorrow, but an apology does not have an expiration date. Your kindness and consideration are timeless.
Surround yourself with doers. People within your inner circle should inspire you, encourage you and bring drops of light into your life. Close the door on anyone that makes you feel poorly about yourself, is involved in bad habits or takes jabs at your dreams and sense of self. Furthermore, do your part this year to be a better friend, sister, brother, cousin, etc. Relationships are a two-way street, so treat others how you want to be treated.
Validate. The most important part of taking accountability in life also involves validating others on how your decisions or actions may have affected them. Look them in the eye and take notice of their feelings and emotions. Tell them you hear them, you see them and you will work on being better. In time, your actions will prove that. Validation is equally crucial when something good happens in your life, too. If others have helped you, acknowledge them and say thank you or write a card, but always express gratitude. Being humble and grateful are key steps to moving ahead successfully.
I deeply encourage you to make this upcoming year your most honest. What does an honest year mean? It means always being truthful about how you feel, what you want and what you don’t want. Do your very best to put your integrity stamp on every choice that you make. This year is full of new opportunities. It is your duty to yourself to make it different from all of the rest.
I believe in you and know you can!
The holiday season is upon us, which has many people’s stress levels on high alert.
For some of you, just the thought of traveling or being around family can bring on those deep breaths of anxiety. Please kindly allow me to be blunt: family parties and the holiday hustle can, indeed, be a huge headache. I say that with love because it is my favorite time of the year, but I also say that with a big gravy boat full of honesty. No matter how you carve it, studies have shown that the holidays can heighten stress and create a restlessness in your mood.
I challenge you to make this holiday season different and encourage you to make it your happiest and healthiest year yet. This can be done by simply adjusting your perspective, reflecting on your own personal growth and creating boundaries.
To make this challenge effective, you have to first come to the deep understanding that this is not about magically erasing all your family drama. That is simply not realistic because the only person you can control is yourself. Plus, life is full of uncertainty and unexpected moments, which again is completely out of your hands.
The second point that you must consciously have on your radar is that there is no such thing as a perfect family. The word “perfect” puts too much pressure on any situation. No matter how big or small, every person you know is dealing with some kind of private family matter—whether that is harboring childhood wounds, dealing with health issues, money problems, addiction, hurt feelings, etc. The list goes on and on. But guess what? We’ve all been down one of those roads once or twice. So, I want you to let go of any perfect expectations and the idea that one family appears so much better compared to your own.
With that said, the most important point I suggest that you concentrate on is your personal boundaries. What works for you may be different than what works for others. This is about you, your life and your individual happiness. Setting up your boundaries will mentally support you through those more challenging moments of holiday stress and surprises. Boundaries will also serve as a guide and keep you on track so that you have more peace within yourself and in your present surroundings.
I want you to take a few minutes to answer the below questions to ignite your thinking and bring your subconscious thoughts to the forefront. There are no right or wrong answers, but your wheels should start to turn and help you think about what it is you want to achieve in the next couple months.
What would make you most happy over the holiday season?
Which people are involved in that scenario?
What environment do you feel the most comfortable in?
What kind of behavior do you want to stay away from?
Who in your family has shown you support and love?
Have you made a conscious effort to show kindness as well?
Do you engage in positive conversations and show interest?
What are the holidays supposed to be about?
What is different about you this year compared to last year?
Do you plan to give back or do something charitable during the holidays?
Take time to meditate and digest your answers. Once you’ve done that, you should begin to have a better vision and a sense of certainty about what your wish is for the holidays. That could be a balance between family time and time for yourself, or perhaps just time inventing your own tradition.
Whatever your decision is this holiday season, I hope you free your mind of any unnecessary thoughts that may trigger stressful thinking. The holidays are meant to be a joyous and relaxing time, but it is up to you to customize how you want to celebrate and recharge.
Happiest of Holidays,
What can we learn about forgiveness?
It is a question that continues to hit the core of our souls and hearts throughout our entire lives. Forgiving usually comes when we have been dealt with some kind of level of hurt. Hurt is often unexpected and can knock you to the ground emotionally, completely taking over your mind, and consuming your daily thoughts. It is not just hurtful actions, but words that leave a sting in our conscious and subconscious minds. But, how do we get past them, and how does one truly move on from hurt? Is the power of forgiveness the key to finding the peace we all deserve after dealing with heartache or tragedy?
Like many of you, I have always been a strong believer in igniting my mind to be better, act better, and engage myself to work on my own development. As the saying, goes, “if we are not learning, we are not growing.” I echo that statement and truly believe that forgiveness is a major force that can upward our thinking and strengthen our platforms in understanding and feeling more grounded.
What needs to be noted is that you are the owner of your own thoughts. No self-help book, spiritual guru, or even I, should ever tell you what you should or shouldn’t do when it comes to dealing with tragedy. That is your own journey to define. However, if you are open to looking for a guide or a dose of understanding when it comes to hurt, then I hope these points helps put your mind at ease and opens your perspective on the topic of forgiveness.
1.) Control The Clock
Everyone wants to feel an element of control when they are hit with hurt. It’s a natural reaction when our emotions go through moments of ups and downs, feeling of being taken advantage of, or when your feelings truly do get hurt. I encourage you to use time as a tool to help you process and find the peace to forgive. Time is always on your side when it comes to finding forgiveness and strength. Whether it is one day, one week, one year, or 10 years, remember that you are in control of that timeline. There is no rule book when it comes to forgiveness. Depending on what occurred, I suggested you let the other person know that you need time to process—especially if it is somebody you deeply care about. Articulating your words and expressing that you need space actually helps build that bridge to finding a resolution.
2.) Keep Off Social Media
We have all seen those posts where people’s dirty laundry is aired out on their social media platforms. Facebook seems to be more of an open diary for people to make these personal and often passive aggressive statements. If you have been in a predicament or situation where hurt has occurred, I suggest you stay off of social media until you are able to fully reflect and own your feelings. The Internet has a way of making everything worse, as pictures and messages are often misread or taken too personally. Plus, the un-follow button is often used as a tactic to deliver a message of how you are really feeling in the moment. So, before you go off and start pressing buttons, take a step back and disconnect from your laptop or iPhone. Part of the forgiving process involves having clarity and comfort in your own mind. That is hard to do when your brain is occupied with Facebook riddles and rants.
3.) Find the Understanding
Getting to that point of forgiveness is a process that involves understanding and respect from both parties. If neither respect or understanding are on the table, then it will be difficult for any kind of resolution to occur. Sometimes you have to simply agree to disagree and move on. That is not always that simple depending on what happened in the past. But, it must be noted that every one of us has asked for forgiveness at some point in our life. It may not have been the same kind of hurt or the exact situation but we know what it is like when our heart aches for healing and forgiveness from others.
4.) Customize Your Forgiveness
In times of greater tragedy, one must take a different approach and look within one’s own self to decide what level of forgiveness you are most comfortable with. Does forgiving someone that deliberately hurt you or caused you harm actually mean reconnecting with them all together? I think not. Sometimes, having a conversation with yourself, your form of faith, or your own soul is just enough. The best part is that you get to decide what will give you peace. You get to customize your form of forgiveness because everyone’s feelings and thoughts are going to be different. That is the beauty of forgiveness. We are all able to choose what works best for us.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to forgiveness because life and the challenges that we are presented with are not ever that clear-cut. There are two sides to every situation and different levels of hurt, harm and heartache. I challenge you to think about any unresolved matter from your past. If it is something that is continuously on the forefront of your mind, perhaps it needs to find an opportunity to be released. The good news – you get to define what that looks like. My only hope is that it brings you the progress and the peace that you deserve.
With Love and Gratitude,
My first job in Los Angeles was working for the celebrity news show, E! News, where I was presented with the opportunity to star in a Style Network wedding special for Giuliana and Bill Rancic in Capri, Italy. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world as I always wanted to plan an extravagant wedding and travel to such a gorgeous island. Did I mention, it was all going to be captured on camera – it felt too good to be true! The wedding special lead to my breakout role in the “Giuliana and Bill” show and I later went on to star in E!’s “The Drama Queen.”
During the early process of filming reality television, I found myself feeling super energized, incredibly excited and thankful for the opportunity to be around all the cameras, lights, producers, and crew. Starring in non-scripted television shows was a dream of mine ever since I moved to Los Angeles almost a decade ago. At that point in my life, I was super passionate about making it on TV and being part of the entertainment and Hollywood buzz! I use to think, who would not want to be around movie premieres, red carpets, fashion shows, press junkets, award shows and all that showbiz has to offer?!
However, being on reality television showed me the different sides of the entertainment industry, and made me think about what I wanted to accomplish in life. It really allowed me take a moment to sit back and reevaluate my sense of purpose. At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel like they matter and have value but for some reason I found myself feeing really down. Everything that I always dreamt about was coming true and happening right before my very eyes so I could not understand why my gut was telling me to move on. I was unhappy and could not pinpoint why.
Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been motivated by the women in my life. From my mother, sisters, aunts, cousins, grandma and best friends, I have always had a close and special bond between each of them. Perhaps, other gay men feel this way too but I always felt a unique connection with the ladies in my life. Growing up, my lovely gal-pals would always come to me with their problems and use me as a sounding board when dealing with break ups, friendship drama, family issues and of course fashion choices. Some would even joke around and introduce me as their “other hubby.” At an early age, I really learned to appreciate the strength of women in all areas especially when I saw them be courageous in time of divorce, drug abuse, eating disorders, etc. Their strength and overcoming such battles was truly an inspiration to me. What can be so powerful about friendship is that two souls have the ability to lift each other up, guide each other and support each other in more ways then one. Maybe having that balance and unconditional love is what really makes the relationship between women and gay men so special. Yes, we have been known to have similar interests but there is an indescribable energy of pure joy when we are in the same room.
A good example of this was when I was going through my own moments of sadness and questioning my happiness. During the reality show filming, I met a woman that was an entrepreneur and philanthropist that came into my life at just the right time. We quickly started a friendship and later began working together. She showed me all that life has to offer outside of Hollywood. I learned about working internationally in the areas of real estate, fashion, finance, and business along with seeing other entrepreneurs build up their own companies and add value into the world. I started to feel a huge upward shift in my life, I was inspired by all the hard working people I met, the different cultures and new drive instilled in me.
I guess you can say the takeaway from all this is that what happens to you in life does not matter but what you become through those experiences is what is important. Today, I wake up feeling a huge sense of appreciation for not only the person that I’ve become, but for the women that helped me along the way. They are the forces that inspired me to start writing.
God Bless and Cheers To You All,
Are you staying on top of the commitments you made at the 1st of the year? New Years has come and gone which only means those ever so popular resolutions may or may not be on the table anymore. Listen, I am not one to make resolutions because I like to set small goals for myself throughout the year. I find them to be more helpful, and more in-tune with whatever is happening in my present life. On the flip side, I do appreciate grander scale goals like a New Years resolution as a good mental kick in the butt. Like many of you, I wanted to launch into 2017 like a rocket with clarity, more motivation, and a wish list of accomplishments and improvements I’d like to work on. So, now that January is out of the way and February has come and gone, I thought I’d give myself a status report on my new year goal setting. I challenge you to do the very same as the two-month mark is the best time to check in with yourself and see if you’ve been on top of your A-game.
For those of you that are familiar with my articles, you know that I like to keep it real. There is no sugar coating when it comes to my advice or when it comes to motivating others to live with a stronger outlook and a more consistent flow of happiness. In my family and close circle of friends, I am the go-to guy on saying it how I mean it! Speaking of sugarcoating, can I get an “AMEN” that giving up sugar is one of the hardest challenges when it comes to eating healthier. Yes, one of my goals this year was cutting out sugar and dairy from my diet. The combination of the two d’s is a real struggle, especially since ice cream is one of my all time favorite treats. I could eat a pint of ice cream like it was my day job. However, that is not the best hobby when wanting to keep my waistline in tact. So, I made a commitment to step up my gym workouts and step down my sugar intake. For the most part, besides a date night or two, it has been good riddance to hardy desserts. One of my obstacles with sugary indulgences is that I cannot have “a bite” – it is all or nothing for me. I don’t even like to share desserts, that is how much I enjoy them (see, at least I’m honest!). After two months though of omitting sugar from my daily dose, I definitely have less cravings and I’ve noticed a big difference in my physique. That is always the most gratifying part – when you can actually see a physical improvement. What helped me kick sugar to the curb and assisted me in keeping my eye on my goals like eating healthier and turning up the volume on working out were the following steps. Perhaps, you too have been on the same path or maybe these will inspire you to get back in focus. In any case, I know you can do it! Take a peak on what has helped me:
Track what you eat. I purchased a little notebook and wrote down everything that I ate each day. It not only gave me an overview of what I was putting into my body, it made me more accountable. Writing it down made me “own” my food decisions even more. And, it also helped me plan better for meals (did I mention it can make your grocery list much easier –ha!).
Eat out less. Cook more meals home and get educated on portion sizes. Going to out to dinner is fun and all but menus are not always geared toward eating cleaner.
Find a friend. The buddy-system is always a plus especially when it is with somebody that is extra supportive and can make you laugh throughout your journey. Yes, there is always humor to be found when accomplishing a goal.
Take pictures. I love a before and after! They can also help track your progress. However, I don’t suggest posting onto social media – keep them for yourself. Don’t forget you are doing this for you, not anybody else.
Use Your Gym As A Resource. My boyfriend and I recently joined a new gym that has really motivated us to workout harder. Many people that go there are training for competitions. Their hard work and dedication is very inspiring. I’ve also found it very helpful to ask questions on meal prepping and certain workout techniques.
Head Outside. Whether it is snow or shine, I want you to take in the fresh air. Get your body in motion by walking around your neighborhood, on a bike ride, or up a hiking trail. Connecting with nature is only going to stimulate your brain.
Meditate. You don’t need to bust out the yoga mat and sit with your legs crossed. However, I do recommend taking ten minutes out of your day to “zen out.” That moment of inner peace with allow you find a place of calm. When your mind is calm, you can better prioritize your day.
So, if your New Years resolutions motivation has gone caput, I hope you do relight the fire within you and give it another ago. With only two months down, you still have the rest of 2017 to turn your goals into a reality.
I wish you nothing but success!
For all the brides-to-be in the world, I must admit we have something in common – we both appreciate the joys of everything and anything wedding!! If you are currently planning your big day or your man just “put a ring on it,” then I think we both can strongly agree that weddings and the celebration of marriage is simply AWESOME!
I’m obsessed with all the excitement wedding days have to offer, especially when it involves a couple that is truly in love. You see, it is not all about the dress and throwing a totally off-the-hook party. To me, what makes a wedding super special and memorable is when your guests can see the energy of love between the couple getting married. Pure love is the most powerful feeling in the universe, and seeing two people that genuinely care for each other exchange vows and commit to one another is so encouraging.
If you put all the bling and fancy event planning to the side, weddings are really about honoring the relationship and love of people wanting to share their life together and celebrating their soul commitment.
Like many things in life, the “typical wedding day” is evolving especially if you would like to add a modern twist to it. I think we can all agree that guests these days often expect a unique element at least once throughout the day. How many of you have watched all those creative engagement story videos, dancing groomsmen, comedic speeches and well-rehearsed first dances on Youtube? Pretty talented and amazing clips, right?!
When my gal pal Michelle asked me to be a “bridesman” in her Malibu wedding, I was beyond honored and super thrilled to see her break the traditional wedding party mold. Being a bridesman sounded right up my alley, and I could not have been more grateful to stand by her side while she married her equally fantastic hubby, Chad.
Having the duty and title of a bridesman is a big job, just like any bridesmaid would expect. You are involved every step of the way, and if you happen to have the skills and insight on throwing an elegant bash, than you should kindly add your oh-so-fabulous expertise when asked. Wedding planning is all about the fine details, and no body knows how to zero in on the specifics than your GBF (Gay. Best. Friend). Let me first stop for a moment and say that a bridesman does not have to be your gay bestie, but should be a guy that means a lot to you and has been there for you through the long run like a brother, childhood friend, cousin, etc. I met Michelle many years back when we both rocked super short haircuts and bonded by driving with the top down, Thelma & Louise style to the beach with the music blaring. It was friendship fireworks at first sight and our relationship grew even closer after the 2 of us fell in love with men of our own. From dinner parties, day trips, to Disneyland adventures, we had created so many unforgettable memories together over the years.
Michelle and Chad’s big day was a complete blast but it took some work, and many steps before the spectacular event. Being a Pinterest Princess in her own right, Michelle had her vintage-vineyard theme down to a T! Months gearing up to the wedding involved a handful of dress shopping outings (which obviously were super successful since I made her play “Say, Yes to the Dress”), hair salon appointments (introducing her to extensions took strategy) and how can I forget her bridal shower. Another neat thing about being a bridesman is that you may get invited to both the bachelor party and the bridal shower! I, along with a house full of bridesmaids (and one handsome boyfriend), celebrated the bride-to-be surrounded by the gorgeous nature of Sonoma County. I highly recommend traveling to such a destination, especially if you appreciate a good glass of wine. What made all these moments so special is that everyone involved were believers of love. We were so happy that our friend found her soul mate.
The morning of Michelle and Chad’s wedding, I remember thinking to myself what a journey this past year has been for the both of them. All their hard work in putting their day together really paid off. The tables were set, flowers in place and dance floor ready to go. The biggest highlight of the entire day, though, was hearing my dear friends say, “I Do.” Nothing is more extraordinary than that exchange.
I have made it a point and my purpose to write about my love for women and show my gratitude for how the women in my life have influenced me, motivated me, and inspired me the most. I’ve worked for strong women all my adult life and been surrounded by women with voices and opinions since I was a young boy. From my mother, sisters, aunts, cousins, to the handful of female best friends that have stuck by me and encouraged me to just be – me. Yes, I’ve definitely have had the support of men but my truth is my truth, and it has been the words and the example of women that made me think, made me stronger, and made me the very best me.
When my two nieces, Natalie and Colette were born, my eyes opened wider to the topic of women empowerment. My grateful heart started to beat even stronger with purpose wanting to see the world they live in become one with equal opportunity and rights that support them to be leaders, bosses, and – yes, fighters. Freedom fighters, equality fighters, and human right fighters
With all eyes from around the globe on the United States these days, I call out the men in the world to stand up taller and to speak up louder for their wives, their sisters, their mothers, daughters and the women in their life. A few weeks ago, the Women’s March brought out just these types of men, the ones that raised their young daughters up on their shoulders, the ones that held signs, wore pink, marched and rallied. If you are a woman reading this article, my intent for this piece is to let you know that I and thousands of other men support you, are here for you, and will continue to be. Yes, your voices are loud enough, we hear you loud and clear but we honor your words and echo your words. For the men reading this article, let us take a hammer to the stereotype and that feeling many of you have when it comes to standing up for women. Call it what you may, but there is indeed an insecurity amongst men when it comes to talking openly and publically about women’s rights.
Do you feel that other important political topics like gun laws and homeland security are more socially acceptable for men to have a public opinion about than lets see equal pay, domestic violence, and women’s healthcare?
I think a lot of it boils down to fear and the running old topic of what is masculine vs. feminine. Yes, I believe there are men out there that truly think that standing up for women on social media, out loud, publicly, or amongst other men is looked at to be not masculine. Why? Well, we can fill up pages and pages on the world’s history, religious views, and society norms of men and women. But, I’d rather focus on today and get your wheels turning in a forward motion so that we provoke progress, change, and work to shatter any labels or stereotype when it comes to showing support for women.
What we know to be true is that everyone is going to have an opinion with current events. There are some topics that will naturally connect and relate more to one person than another. But, if we want women’s rights to be brought even more center to the world stage, we need more people and more men to speak up with you too.
We need them to not just understand but to use their platforms and be the example to young boys, that they respect women and their rights.
I ask you to turn to your husband, boyfriend, brother, sons, guy friends and have a conversation to see what their thoughts are on women’s rights. Some may already know the various areas where women are not treated equal and know about the many other challenges you face. But, I believe many are aware there is an issue but don’t necessary know the specifics and the severity.
What they see on television and what they already know may certainly be very different from what you think they know. And, people in general only know what they know. So, lets educate, listen, and encourage the men of the world to not be afraid to use their voices when it comes to women’s rights. Challenge them, teach them, and bring examples of how your rights are not just women’s rights but human rights. We are all connected and all affected.
My mission is to get more men to stand with you, to say thank you to the men that already do, and to work together so that equality becomes more of a reality and that we fight for what is right. Let us unite.
With Love and Gratitude,
After 7 years of being together, my boyfriend Nick and I have often wondered if, when and how we would have children. Both of us come from large Italian families that would very much embrace us having kids of our own. During the recent holidays we were asked by a handful of relatives if we ever wanted to be parents. A question like that really does make you think! It made me reflect on how far society has come in the fight for equality and human rights. I know there is a lot more work to go but we are so grateful with all the progress and that there are many LGBT families leading the way. Nick and I have always been so inspired by gay couples that have children and celebrities that use their platform to show such a beautiful example of love and family. Neil Patrick Harris and his husband David are such an inspiration. I remember watching their amazing Oprah interview a couple years ago and calling up my parents to turn on the television – I said, “that is what Nick and I want someday.”
Interesting enough, I never was the guy that wanted to have babies. In my twenties I could not even imagine myself being a dad. Just the thought of waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of crying seemed so dreadful (yes, I absolutely love my sleep). I would also get annoyed when I would see kids misbehaving in restaurants, causing a scene and disrupting dinner. Thankfully, my mindset changed drastically when my older sister, Jackie, had her two daughters. It is safe to say that my nieces, Natalie Clare & Colette Marie put a whole new perspective on my view of parenting and idea of having little ones of my own.
Jackie and I have an extremely close bond, we are 11 months apart (I was very premature and my parents were very busy), and have been each other’s rocks throughout our entire life. She is usually my first phone-call of the day and has always spoken up for me when I struggled to find my own voice. Jackie leads the pack of our sibling posse of four and we all love seeing her as a mom. After giving birth, Jackie and her husband, John, asked me to be the Godfather to their first born, Natalie Clare. I remember sitting in my living room having an overwhelming feeing come over me that I never felt before. Being asked to be Godfather felt like such a huge honor. For me, it meant that there would be a spiritual connection between my niece and I. It would also mean I would be responsible for her if anything were to happen. The moment I held Natalie Clare in my arms, I cried my eyes out. She was so little, so innocent and looked so peaceful. My boyfriend and I still get very emotional whenever we hear the sweetness of her voice and the kindness of her soul.
Now at age 4, Natalie has grown to be a very smart little girl. She knows that Uncle Matt and Uncle Nick love each other and a couple (just like Mommy and Daddy and Nanny and Poppie). My sister and brother-in-law have raised their children to have no judgment and that everyone is equal. Seeing Natalie with such an open mind really makes me think about how so much of the hate going on in the world stems from what we learn at home. Can you imagine what the Earth would be like if there was more love and acceptance being taught? There are some people out there that can really learn a lot from the eyes of a 4 year old.
These days, I often use the term “Guncle,” especially if I need a cool hash-tag on Instagram. You have probably heard it before – the blending of the words “gay uncle.” When I think about it from a fun and light-hearted point of view, I really love being called it. For gay men, if you can’t be a parent, you can certainly be a Guncle! It is a big responsibility but so incredibly rewarding. My nieces really do think I build the best Lego houses, tell the greatest princess stories, host the most fun tea parties, and always in the mood to sing a song from Frozen.
Who knows if Nick and I will ever have children, it is something we are going to focus on later down the road. But, what we do know is that we will always have two beautiful nieces in our life. For now, I think we will take advantage of spoiling them and dropping them off at their mom and dads (ha!).
With all jokes aside, what I’ve learned through this whole experience of being a Guncle is that there is nothing more precious than feeling the love of a child and for a child. Seeing them grow into their own personalities is so fascinating. I also have so much more admiration for all the mothers and fathers out there – wow! My hat goes off to all of you.
My only wish is that I hope you teach your children the importance of equality. There are all kinds of families out there who love the same.
Show your kids that everyone deserves compassion.
May God bless us all.
Through all the years of growing up, I tried hard to be a positive person. Like with most of you out there, life has not always been easy, and at times that was very challenging. But more than that, I learned that there is a difference between being a positive person and pretending I am always happy to please other people.
My childhood was when I went through some of the most difficult times. I was constantly in a mind game with myself to try and focus my thoughts on being happy even though what was going on around me and in my own head felt like the complete opposite. In the fifth grade, I was given the nickname “Smiley,” as I always had a big smile on my face. I was showing everyone my happy exterior, but on the inside I battled with my confidence, sense of self, and knowing that I was just different from the other boys in my class.
As the years went on and I got older, I continued to hide my true feelings even more. One of the many reasons was that I did not completely understand what was going on in my own mind. Coming to terms with being gay and finding your own identity is not the easiest thing to do. You go through all kinds of emotions including the back-and-forth denial and the feeling that something is wrong with you. At such an early age when you feel different, you feel vulnerable. And when you feel vulnerable, you don’t feel safe. It is not a good place to be in.
Part of me also had an issue with telling my parents and other relatives what was going on because I did not want to disappoint them, and I did not want to bring what I thought was extra “problems” onto them. It was almost like I wanted to show them that I was always happy so they did not have to be concerned or deal with any extra worry.
I have since realized that I was very much what they call a people pleaser. Making sure others were feeling happy over my own emotions was very much a part of my make up. One small example I remember during junior high was when my grandfather gave me a cool new jacket, which I wore to school the following day. One of the older kids in a higher grade came up to me and asked if he could wear it that entire day. Part of me was probably scared of what he would do if I had said no, but the other part did not even think to not say no. I gave him my jacket. I felt like such a fool, so weak and deflated after doing that.
This may resonate with some of you, especially if you have a tough time expressing how you really feel or doing what you really want to do. Perhaps that is because you don’t want to hurt other people, or you want other people to be in a good mood, even if that affects you negatively. This carried on with me, even when I was older and working at E! News. I was so serious and focused on making my boss happy in any way that I could, that it consumed every last bit of me. It made me feel like I was excelling in my career to one degree but, at the same time, it was draining me.
During this time, one of my dear friends at E! asked me during our work day if I could run with him quickly to grab a cup coffee. I remember thinking he was crazy and kindly telling him I did not have the time. He looked at me straight in the eyes and basically told me that “I needed to get a life,” as everybody is allowed to get a break from time to time. I was so hard on myself and engulfed in being overly available at work that taking time to grab coffee seemed like a luxury. His words really stuck with me, and I began to reflect about the way I was thinking.
I started to ask myself, “What do I want?” “How do I feel?” “What do I deserve?” That was when I came to a crossroad in my life and made the decision to change. Since then, I have realized that it is so important to take your own feelings into consideration and speak up no matter what the circumstance.
I don’t know why it took me so long to find my own voice, but it feels so good to say what you mean and mean what you say. The first few times I was able to say, “No, thank you,” to something I did not really want to do felt incredibly liberating. Now, I am very conscious of my feelings and very aware of the difference between being a positive person and pretending everything is OK when it’s not. I now live with the mission that “yes” really does mean yes, and “no” really does means no. It is that simple.
If you find it difficult to speak your mind or feel pressured into making a decision, please know that it is always appropriate to take time to digest your own thoughts and feelings before giving an answer. Whether it is something as small as committing to weekend plans, or something big like what the next move you want to make in a relationship or career is, always be aware that you are in control. You are the owner of your words, and nobody is allowed to take that from you.
I have been really open about my sexuality in my writing and on the E! Television shows I starred in. As an adult, it is very freeing for me to be my authentic self as much as possible—especially on such a public platform. I believe there is no way of truly connecting with people unless you are able to let your guard and ego down. You’d be surprised how much that does not happen in reality television or in Hollywood in general.
With that said, as a young boy I was not always able to be my true self. Part of that had to do with the path of just growing up and figuring out myself. Yep, all a part of life that I am sure every single one of us goes through. There were the obvious society mind blocks and the outside noise that teaches how you “should be” and how you “should act.” Whether that is from parents, religion, the media, social media, television shows, etc., there is a general influence on young people and how they should think. All can be very confusing for anyone questioning themselves or trying to understand their sexuality for that matter.
For years, I fought against the “you should act like” and this is what “normal is” remarks. It was a mental battle I eventually won.I pray for the kids that commit suicide or that are bullied for being gay. I pray for the LGBT men and women in countries where they are brutally attacked, killed with no law to protect them.
When the Supreme Court gay marriage ruling was announced recently, I had a moment where tears rushed down my face. It was an overwhelming sense of joy, gratitude for the leaders in the LGBT community that fought so hard and the powerful feeling of acceptance for not just my boyfriend and I, but for the younger generation who will have a somewhat easier road ahead of them. History was made that day. Sadly, there was also some backlash from people. I expected that, but not from somebody I am related to. A very distant cousin (key word: very) wrote a hateful comment on my Facebook wall. It not only shocked me, it completely disappointed other family members, especially my super supportive parents.
What bothered me the most was that it felt like a direct attack on me. Then, I started to question why this cousin would do such a heartless act. Why did she not keep her opinion to herself? What was her intent, and why did she feel it was necessary to add negativity to such a historic day? Was she coming at me from a political view or a religious view? Why the hate?
It got me thinking about how much of our views are instilled in us at a very early age and how that shapes so much of who we become to a certain degree. This family member I am speaking of comes from a whole other older generation. Much of what she knows is from a very small bubble. Perhaps, her view of God is different from mine. Perhaps, she is expressing her rights just as much as I am expressing mine. There is one massive difference. My God, comes from a different place. My connection with God comes from a place of no judgment, compassion, love and the clear fact we are all created equal and should be treated equal. That is what I believe in.
So who do I pray to?
The God that I know accepts me, accepts you, accepts each and every one of us.
Religion and spirituality have always fascinated me. I have vivid memories of early grade Catholic School. The nuns, the religious lessons, going to mass, the teachings of Jesus and how can I ever forget the uniforms. The Catholic religion was introduced to me at an early age, and I was baptized, went to church, had my Holy Communion, etc.
The older I became though, and the more I learned about what being gay meant, including that it was not accepted in the Catholic church, it all confused the heck out of me. This is all on top of being called a faggot on the playground. Can you imagine what I was thinking?
There were many areas in the Catholic religion that didn’t make sense to me. Why did such a holy place that preached about loving thy neighbor not accept all neighbors who practice kindness and are genuinely good people that give back to the world and believe in God?
Later on in my life, and before I came out of the closet, one of the many things that helped guide me was tapping into my own relationship with God outside of the Catholic church’s walls. The more in tune I became with who I was, the stronger the faith within myself grew. There is something so powerful you experience when you not only accept yourself but also accept that there is a higher power who accepts you too. I stopped focusing on what society and religion had taught me, and rather what I knew about the God I prayed to at night.
It brought me peace and a stronger connection to my own spirituality.
I live a life with love in my heart and a God on my side.
Yes, I was born gay. Yes, God loves me.