Whether on-screen or off-screen, “Queer Eye” Netflix reboot star Karamo Brown uses the love and support he receives from his community and the challenges encountered throughout his life to tell his story and help others tell theirs.
“One of the great things for me when I tell my story, in a complete and transparent way, [is that] I try not to hide anything, ”said Brown. “The reason I’m doing this is because I think it’s really important for people to know that if I can overcome the hardships I’ve been through, have the success and happiness that I have today. ‘hui, then anyone else can do it. “
Brown shared his expertise in helping others to be vulnerable and find their true purpose within themselves during Wednesday night’s University Lecturing Series (ULS). From thinking about inclusivity to discussing internalized homophobia, Brown’s personal development series gave students a fresh take on the complexities and challenges. marginalized groups are always confronted.
During the conference, which started 15 minutes late, Brown emphasized the importance of telling people’s stories and bringing more inclusion to the big screen. While he considers it an honor to be cast as the first openly gay black man on a reality show in 2004, Brown believes the entertainment industry still lacks representation.
“It’s crazy that there was no performance at that time,” he said. “It’s an honor that I can be the first, but I think about how much more representation we need now, how many more stories need to be told now. And… we see so much growth in the fact that so many people are coming forward. “
Representation was also an issue during the first season of “Queer Eye,” in which all of the “heroes” selected for a makeover were white, straight men. Seeing the problem, Brown emphasized the need to feature various stories on the show.
This change, however, must reflect all aspects and give space to tell stories that have often been overlooked, he said.
“Everyone has to be representative, everyone has to be seen,” Brown said. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but I’m grateful that I can be a part of this little story somehow… I don’t represent everyone but if I walk into a room I will do my best to keep the door open so you can come in behind me.
Discussing his own personal experiences with internalized homophobia, Brown said he was affected by the toxic masculinity of his own community growing up. For Brown, people shouldn’t believe that in order to rise up, they have to put others down. This same school of thought therefore overlooks issues, such as homophobia and racism, within the LGBTQ community and does not address them, he said.
“There is still endemic homophobia and racism within our community, endemic transphobia. … [the] transphobic things I hear from gay men that I then have to correct. … And so I think we really have to keep challenging ourselves and pushing these things up, ”Brown said.
During the conference, the moderator focused on a range of issues relating to the pandemic and its impact on the overall university experience as well as on mental and physical health. Brown stressed his admiration for the current class of graduates and acknowledged the difficult season of attending college and finding a job amid a pandemic.
“Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back, because you are doing it,” Brown said. “You are in a space right now where it is difficult, and you are up to the occasion. So, congratulations. “
He said students and recent graduates should remember to be patient with themselves and keep a positive mindset to avoid falling into the trap of self-doubt and self-destruction. In addition to keeping Faith, Brown also stressed the importance of asking for help during difficult times.
“What I encourage people to understand is that you have overcome 100% of the challenges of your past,” he said. “How do I know that? Because you’re standing here today, because you got out of it. And that might not be the ideal you wanted, but you got it.
To the surprise of many, Brown revealed some history he has with USF and the memories he made around campus when he was a student at Florida A&M University.
“I love USF,” he said. “I used to come over there and hang out with friends all the time and have a great time. So it brings back some great memories to me.
With Brown’s outgoing personality and straightforward answers, he was not afraid to bring truth and wisdom to his lecture. One of the things he criticized was that a lot of people pretend everything is fine when they are going through a tough situation. Removing someone’s feelings and real emotions is a disservice to himself, he said.
Brown spoke about the importance of expanding your emotional vocabulary. For him, people need to express what they are really feeling by using more emotional language and writing down their feelings to clarify their sanity.
Once your emotions become clearer, the process of determining what kind of support you need can begin.
“I don’t think we’re doing a good enough job. We have so many words in English and usually when we talk about how we feel it’s usually just happy, sad, crazy, angry, ”Brown said. “There are so many other words you can express to truly understand what you are going through. “
Brown also provided information on the challenge of breaking through doubts and how to erase preconceived notions about an authentic and shameless life.
“Go back, try to be introspective and try to figure out what it was as a kid that kept you from feeling like this moment right now doesn’t make me comfortable and start healing this. moment… And then once you’re gone out there… every experience is going to give you a better sense of the situation, ”Brown said.
Brown encouraged traumatized people to seek help and use the Mental Health resources available on campus, including the counseling center. He also stressed the importance of writing down his feelings at a specific point in his life to get more clarity on the matter.
“The problem is we have these feelings and thoughts and we keep them trapped in our minds and then it starts to get confused and we are never able to understand exactly what is bothering us, it causes us anxiety. , it causes us depression, ”said Brown.
“You have to be able to stop, write it down, watch it and then see how often you experience it … because that will lead you to more clarity on what it was from your past that might haunt your present.” right now . “
If the trauma is left untreated, Brown said it could potentially lead to trauma-related relationships, which could continue to trigger that same memory.
“While you are doing the job, whether with a professional or in writing yourself, be sure to check who you are dating or who you are dating, as the traumatic connections are real and you will end up in a relationship with. someone who’s had the same trauma as you, and you’re just going to be in a traumatic situation over and over again, ”he said.
The conference lasted about 40 minutes before the moderator quickly moved on to the question-and-answer section of the event. Of 88 questions posed in the Microsoft Teams chat box, Brown only asked two.
One of the questions was about Brown’s experience as the only black man of the Fab Five in “Queer Eye.” During the show, Brown said he was grateful to have someone like fashion expert Tan France in the cast to add a new perspective to the show, as France is Pakistani, Muslim. and British.
“It makes me so good that Tan is there because there is a lot of stuff that we can connect with,” he said. “And so there are times when micro-aggressions happen where I can look at him and he would say, ‘Girl, I saw him’, and I’m like ‘OK, great, now I have to. other eyes so I don’t feel crazy. ‘”
While his identities have given him non-ideal life experiences, Brown said he’s always trying to make strides to realize how valuable they are to who he is and to standing up for their communities.
“I think the next step is that I have to find the courage very early on to understand that my stories, my life and who I am and all of my identities are valuable,” Brown said. “So when I walk into a space… I don’t have to worry about losing a job because I want to be my authentic self.
“Understanding the power of my worth, understanding the power of my identities and what I’ve learned creates space for me to say ‘No no no, I belong here, and I also belong to speak out against things that don’t. not go. ‘”
Concluding his lecture with a quote on growth, Brown encouraged the students to keep moving forward with their goals and make small strides to reach their happiest state of mind.
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘Be afraid to stand still, not afraid to grow slowly.’ The reason I love this quote is that it tells people it doesn’t matter what you want in life as long as you’re constantly making small movements to get there… that’s all that matters, ”said Brown.
“Keep training to pursue your dreams, even if it’s slowly, and just know that life will be good because there are people out there who love you and want to help you. That’s it.”