In today’s post I want to open up a little and talk about my personal life and my journey to discover who I am, because in today’s world authenticity is currency. In real estate, just like in life, there’s a lot of competition. It can be incredibly difficult to understand this at first, but what makes you different is also the thing that makes you valuable.
A quick disclaimer about this post: these are just a few very short snippets from my life. They are a way to show how being authentic can help you to live a better life. Trust me, one day there will be a more in depth story of my childhood with all of the adversity and the obstacles that stood in my way to me getting where I am today. However, I’m not looking for sympathy, rather my intention is to inspire anyone who reads this to start living their truth. My hope is that everyone reading this will really embrace the idea of being their most authentic self.
In order to let my clients get to know me a little better, I wanted to share about one of the hardest aspects of my life to deal with: my sexuality. I recently gave a speech where Josh and I shared our thoughts on coming out to a group of high school students at his alma mater, Beverly Hills High, and it really got me thinking.
In order to be a great realtor, you have to build up trust with your clients, and in order to do that you have to be authentic. This is just one avenue in which I have worked incredibly hard to be my truest self, and life has really rewarded me before my wildest dreams. It is my sincere hope that this post inspires at least one person to do the same!
Am I Having An Identity Crisis?
As a high schooler, I didn’t know that I was gay. It was a difficult experience for me in many ways. And while I know that I didn’t have it nearly as hard as some people did and still do, I still had my share of fear, frustration, and shame.
I dated a popular cheerleader in high school, I know not the typical gay kid response most people are looking for. My peers and friends were mostly girls and a lot of people used to make fun of me and my girlfriend.
It seemed like people were constantly whispering about my sexuality behind my back. There was a lot of gossip telling me that I was gay, but I never internalized it. They called me a lot of names, most of them I can’t write in this post, because I don’t want to perpetuate the animosity that they invoke. Needless to say, this all affected my confidence pretty severely.
It’s funny how your sexuality can lay dormant for years. When I was in high school, for example, if I was focusing on a guy, it was because I wanted to be like him. I wanted to look like him, steal his haircut, find out where he bought his clothes, or act as athletic as he did. It was never sexual for me at that age.
Over time, my confidence kept getting chipped away by people. I had an intimate relationship with my girlfriend and didn’t comprehend the idea that I could be gay, despite being teased daily for being different. In my mind I thought that if I was dating this gorgeous girl and we have this amazing connection both emotionally and physically, then there was no way I could be gay.
“Bobby Loves Boys”
One day, I was sitting in class and a guy on the football team was looking at a Macy’s ad and turned to me and said, “hey Bobby is that you?”
I was really excited because I thought maybe this will be the thing that takes the pressure off of people talking about me. Since I was doing something professionally that nobody in my town was doing at the time, I thought perhaps they would at least be intrigued. However, I was wrong about that to say the least.
When I look back on this now I should have known that. The town I grew up in was that kind of town you see in the movies where all the families get together on Friday nights and go to the high school football game. It was not the kind of town where you get excited that your friend was going to the big city for photo shoots.
I confidently said, “yes, that’s me. I’m a model.”
Then, he leaned over and said, “isn’t that what gay guys do?”
I was mortified. My whole world came crashing down almost as suddenly as it had been built up. I thought that modeling was a window into being liked by my peers and accepted, not ridiculed and ostracized. I felt like I had lost a piece of myself.
People started teasing me and turned my last name into a joke, telling me “Bobby loves boys,” whenever I came around. Then, I felt really worried about what my girlfriend was thinking and feeling about this. Even though we were connected, it still shook my confidence.
I can still remember always feeling tense walking down the hallway.
Then, one day, years later , after high school and in the middle of college I started finding guys attractive. This created so much confusion for me. How could I be attracted to both sexes? Again keep in mind this is 15 years ago and in a small town type of thinking. There wasn’t a lot of media out there where I could look to see what I was processing. I simply just didn’t know. Was I gay? Bisexual? Or just simply too confused to even figure it out? The hardest part was that I had nobody I could talk to about this.
Hitting On Women at Gay Bars
I remember I was at dinner on Sunset when I first moved to town, and I drove a friend’s car to dinner. During our ride he put his hand on mine and I felt sparks. I immediately said, “oh shit,” because this was the first time I had a romantic feeling for another guy. Fun fact: he ended up being my first boyfriend.
At that moment I realized I had to be more authentic and that it could make waves in my life.
The price of being myself might jeopardize my relationships with people who knew me, but I knew that if they really cared, it wouldn’t matter.
At that time, I was still questioning whether I was bisexual or gay, and I don’t believe in drawing straight lines or labels. I always found it funny that people tried to pigeonhole everyone.
Here’s a funny story about still being confused and going to gay bars. I must say had I not have been confused, I probably would have never met one of my long time best friends, Gabriela. I’ll never forget it. One Friday night I go out to a gay bar with a couple of friends of mine. The bar is packed with a lot of good looking guys and girls.
I go up to order my margarita and I lock eyes with this gorgeous blonde with piercing blue eyes. Nope not brad Pitt, it’s Gabriela. I go up to her to introduce myself and we get to talking.
Meanwhile, I am clueless to the hot guy she brought with her and I still laugh about it today. As we started talking more I asked what she does for a living, where does she live, can I have your number? Well, this took her by surprise because she immediately said, “wait but aren’t you gay?” I replied, “no I’m not gay, I’ve only been with one guy.”
As I’m writing this I’m laughing out loud because it was such an innocent and genuine reply on my part, but now I understand the comedy of it. Needless to say, I did get her number and we had the best summer of my entire life. Summer of 2005 will always be what changed my life for the better. I met Gabriela, a person who loved me and accepted me immediately for who I was. 15 years later and we still have that same connection. She’s my babycakes and I’m her honey buns 🙂
So why am I writing about this topic today?
After the recent speech I gave to the students at Beverly Hills High School about coming out, the more I realized how important it was to be authentic.
Growing up gay, you can feel completely embarrassed and ashamed. Kids today are resorting to taking their own lives because they don’t know how to handle feeling different. Thankfully, we now have organizations such as The Trevor Project who are a great support to the LGBTQ community. The work they are doing is unbelievable and saving so many lives.
This is the number that’s 24 hours where anyone can call into if they are having thoughts of suicide or just need someone to talk to: 1-866-488-7386.
Remember, what someone else says to you or about you is all just them projecting. You are the punching bag, for their insecurity. It has nothing to do with you.
Even in the modeling world there is a lot of prejudice against gay models because you need to project masculinity. Which can be pretty crippling because you are already doing something where you are being judged so much.
It took me years to learn how to be myself. I remember being on set and having my agent tell me to pretend to talk about my girlfriends. He was so insecure that he actually made me make up cover stories so that I wasn’t blackballed from working on certain bookings for being a gay kid. It’s a miracle I have any confidence today!
This feeling of not being able to be my true self was really tough and took a toll on me. Today it is so great to be free enough to be myself on television and even in public, that I feel like a completely new individual, and my hope is to share that with anyone who needs to hear it.
Your Certificate of Authenticity
For anyone reading this my one takeaway message is this: your authenticity is your currency. It’s all you have. If you aren’t authentic, your self-worth will never be as high as it could be, so don’t be afraid to take a risk and be vulnerable. If you need support, ask for it. This is something that took me way too long to realize, so don’t make the same mistake!
My friends, family, and especially clients are able to connect more effectively with me as a result of me being more myself. When you think about being authentic, it can be tough to know how much of yourself to show, and how much to hide. My advice is to share as much about yourself as you need to, to feel like yourself fully and completely.
Whenever you feel like you can’t be yourself in your career you aren’t going to be as successful as you could be. One of the keys to unleashing your potential is to let people know the real you.
Never apologize for who you are. I have more friends, more business, and most importantly, more happiness because of my ability to be authentic than I ever would have dreamed. Being able to be accepted and embraced for being myself is literally a dream come true.