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Josh Flagg on Coming Out: “It Became Very Empowering to Feel Invincible and Not Give a Damn”
Plus, the Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles agent has the best advice for people who are struggling to come out today.
Josh Flagg is sharing his coming out story in hopes that it will help others. In a powerful piece called "Let's Get One Thing Straight — I'm Not" on the blog Don't Hide It, Flaunt It, the Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles power agent looks back on his childhood, when he wasn't quite sure he was gay, but knew there were many signs that showed he was not quite the same as other boys his age.
"In many respects from an early age I felt different," he admitted. "For example, unlike many of my peers I was completely disinterested in sports. While they were into playing basketball, baseball and soccer, I’d prefer spending time at my mom’s friends’ houses. I had much more in common with them than with any kid my age. I also loved ballroom dancing and won many awards. Fun for me would be sorting bottles of wine with my dad in his wine cellar or redecorating my parent’s living room."
He thought about how his summers traveling to Europe with his parents and a gay couple they were friends with shaped him.
"We’d have a blast every summer," he recalled. "It was never weird or anything as a thirteen-year-old hanging every day with my gay uncles. I had a blast and I just felt myself around them. However, I still don’t think I was one hundred percent sure I was gay yet. To be honest, I probably didn’t think I was because if I was why would I have slept with girls at fifteen?"
Coming out to his immediate family wasn't too rough. When he came out to his grandmother, she was very accepting and didn't think it was a big deal; she even told Josh about a gay relative they had. His parents were similarly great about it: "When I came out my dad, he said to me: 'I thought I was gay once. It didn’t last very long. About twenty minutes later I DEFINITELY knew I was straight. But I still feel for you.'"
But coming out to people outside of his immediate family was harder.
"Telling people outside of the comfort of my home I was gay wasn’t that easy. Even though I was never terribly flamboyant or feminine, everybody already assumed I was gay because I just had such different interests than most guys my age. And believe me, I was proud of it. I wasn’t getting my nails done and shopping for a really tight clothes so I was probably not the stereotypical gay, but I liked things that most of the kids didn’t."
Though getting through school wasn't too rough, he does have one painful memory of being bullied at school.
"Unbeknownst to me another student at school placed a book about being gay in my backpack. Because I hadn’t checked it out, as I exited the alarm went off. It was an incredibly cruel act and I felt really humiliated. But besides this incident I really didn’t have much of a problem coming out because I was fortunate enough to grow up in Los Angeles. Even back then, in LA it was pretty hard to find a kid who grew up in a household where their mom wasn’t best friends with a gay decorator or their parents didn’t socialize with a gay couple. So, in retrospect overall I guess I had it quite easy."
He figured it out in his later teen years.
"Although I wasn’t originally popular and other rude students clearly didn’t understand me, after a period of time, I actually enjoyed coming out and felt it was cool," he said of his years at Beverly Hills High School. "Because I had such a naturally confident and positive view of myself, in many respects I even began to enjoy all the attention. It became very empowering to feel invincible and not give a damn."
Josh wrapped up his essay with wonderful advice for people who might be struggling to come out today.
"But while I can see that kids now are much more open and accepting of someone who is gay, I would tell someone that is struggling to come out that they should think about things longer term," he wrote. "Attitudes will eventually change and if not, the jerks of today will be the losers of tomorrow."