I’m 37 years old and in some ways I feel like I’m just now getting to know myself. For much of my life, whether I was aware of it or not, I struggled with self-love. It’s always felt so natural for me to show love and compassion to others, but showing the same to myself has never been easy. I’m not a selfish person, I know that, but in some weird, messed up way, self-love has felt like a negative thing for most of my life.
One of my best friends once told me that she couldn’t imagine me saying a fraction of the things I say and think about myself to my worst enemy on my worst day. She was right. I’m great at being the happy, fun loving guy, but there has always been a part of me tortured by negative self-talk and paralyzed by fear. Fear of failure, fear of looking stupid and above all, fear of actually succeeding and losing the people I love because they can’t accept this new, happy, TRUE version of me.
This same fear has kept me “small” for many years. I dated guys that I thought I deserved, instead of those who inspired me to be better, to do better. I accepted unhealthy patterns with family members because I was too afraid to express how I really felt. I spent years circling the drain as a server and as a bartender because I was too afraid to step out of my comfort zone and try fighting for the life of my dreams. I’ve been deeply hurt by so many new “friends” that I think want to build a relationship with me as badly as I want to build one with them.
The thing is, we’re all flawed. I can’t count how many times I’ve tried reaching out to someone I just met and felt a connection with, only to realize they’re not as interested in getting to know me as I’d thought. That’s not a good feeling. So, I’ve gotten really good at playing it close to the vest, so to speak. Not many people get close enough to know the real me, but I’m just not ok with that anymore. I want to know everyone, I want to celebrate everyone and I want to lift every person I meet up so that they can live the life they were created to live.
But I will not sacrifice myself as a stepping-stone; those days are gone.
Instead, I’m using my voice to draw the people into my life that see the same value in me as I see in them. We were all created to live connected lives, so this is my call to the universe. CONNECT ME WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO BRING ME CLOSER TO THE LIFE I WAS CREATED TO LIVE!
As you may know if you’ve been reading my blogs, the past few weeks have been a pretty difficult test. I’ve had to be very intentional with my time and protective of both my mind and my heart lately, which hasn’t been easy. However, this season has taught me how strong I truly am and that each of our stories is so very important.
This weekend I had the opportunity to host the official red carpet of the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, alongside chart topping pop artist and star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Erika Jayne (she's AMAAAAZING btw).
For three years now I’ve been lucky enough to land this gig, but there was something different about this year. This year, I decided to be bold.
Days before heading to Las Vegas, I told my boyfriend Emile that I wanted to walk the red carpet with him (I’m talking about the part of the carpet where the press pool lines up and photographers snap the pictures you see in tabloids and on the internet). He’d never walked a major red carpet in his life, but I know he’ll walk many because he’s a superstar in the making and I wanted his first time to be with me. So, I made up my mind that this was going to happen and I came up with a game plan…sort of.
You see, typically, the couples that walk the red carpet and have photos taken together are famous. If not both of them, at least one of them is, so it makes sense. Well, I’m not exactly famous and either is Emile, but I’ve got a career to build, a book to promote and more importantly, we were ready to present ourselves to the world.
I think representation is so important and although we never had same sex couples as role models to look up to, we both know there are young LGBTQ youth around the globe who DO need to see themselves reflected in the world. So, logically, I thought to myself, “Why don’t we show our love on the red carpet at the Billboard Music Awards, only MILLIONS of people will be watching, what could go wrong?”
So, I decided it was happening and Emile was on board. The morning of, I could tell he was nervous. I was too, but I couldn’t let him know that because I was the one who was actually invited to walk the red carpet, so I had to keep my shit together. As I was escorted to the top of the carpet, I grabbed his hand and didn’t let go. We approached the entrance, which was run by a PR firm, with confidence. We knew that the worst thing that could happen would be that we would be told he couldn’t join me for photos, which would’ve been fine. However, we also knew that if we did walk the carpet together, the pictures of us that would be published might bring hope to a young LGBTQ person somewhere, so the risk was worth it.
No one questioned us and we were BOTH escorted on to the carpet and as the photographers started shouting, “AJ over here…AJ look to your left…AJ up here please,” I grabbed Emile's hand, held it tight and with pride flowing from my heart, I planted a kiss on my partner of nearly 6 years. The flashing lights doubled and then tripled and now, instead of hearing my name, the photographers were shouting, “Can you kiss again please? Just one more kiss! Guys, can we get one more kiss please?”
It went by in a flash, literally, and we walked back into the holding area to cool off indoors for a few minutes before my hosting duties were to begin. Emile was overwhelmed, but the only two people on the carpet who had any clue were now standing in that air-conditioned room, catching their breath after the chaos of it all. It’s almost like we were waiting for someone to come scold us or kick us out of the event for walking together, like someone was going to come say, “You’re not famous enough, someone please escort these two out!”
The funny thing about fame, success and all those weird titles is that someone does not hand them to you; you simply decide that you belong and guess what, YOU BELONG. We decided that we were ready to express our love not only for ourselves in a more impactful way, but our love for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in a way that might have a positive impact on lives.
The weekend was intense, the red carpet was nuts, but through it all our love only grew deeper and the love we have for ourselves became stronger. We’d always assumed the world knew we were together, but apparently it wasn’t as clear as we’d thought. So many people thought we were just buddies or coworkers...REALLY?!? Lol.
We’ve each received thousands of messages of love and support, mostly from fans of K-Pop superstars BTS and their ARMYs around the globe, letting us know how much our expression of love has meant to them and that is such a beautiful thing to experience. Ironically, BTS’ new album, entitled “Love Yourself: Tear” just dropped last week and the group performed their first single “Fake Love” at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night. On that carpet and in real life, there’s nothing fake about our love.
A part of us that religion/society has told us to hide or at least diminish our entire lives was on full display Sunday night and the world has reacted in a way we weren't quite expecting…with love. If complete strangers can show me this kind of love, surely it’s ok for me to love myself more deeply. And you, please don’t be afraid to do the same. Be authentically you, share your stories and never be afraid to LOVE YOURSELF!
P.S. Our red carpet broadcast was watched by over 10 MILLION people...that's nuts!!!
If you missed our red carpet show and want to watch, CLICK HERE------> https://live.twitter.com/BBMAs
If you like dope music, you can buy BTS' new album "Love Yourself: Tear" by clicking HERE------> https://www.amazon.com/Love-Yourself-Tear-BTS/dp/B07BZBBVLF
Oh yeh, we got a little press from Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, Refinery 29, The Huffington Post, People and BravoTV if you wanna check out the links below. I guess it pays to be authentic…who knew!
Also, if this post or any of my previous blogs resonate and you'd like to hire me to come give one of my SIGNATURE TALKS...CLICK HERE-------> http://www.ajgibsontv.com/one-pager/
If you're interested in working with me 1 on 1 and would like to receive more information about PRIVATE COACHING... CLICK HERE------>http://www.ajgibsontv.com/coaching/