Exclusive Interview: Born This Way Blog Creator Paul V.
This is a gay kid, Paul V. thought to himself upon viewing a friend's particularly telling online photo, which was taken when the guy was a 3-year-old boy. The image was of a smiling toddler in a plaid jumpsuit, one hand on each hip, his left knee bent slightly toward the right knee, which allowed his left foot to point to the floor and showcase a shiny white sneaker. Very red carpet. Paul then wondered, Wouldn't it be great if there were collected photographic evidence of gay kids that would show that being gay is innate and not a choice?
So began the Born This Way blog—a photo essay project that shows the "innocent beginnings" of LGBTQ children. And in just a few months' time, the site has received more than two million page views, has been featured on CNN, and just gave birth last week to a new weekly radio show. For Paul—who's been a key player in the Southern California music scene for more than two decades (he's known professionally as DJ Paul V.), the Born This Way blog is just the latest twist in his ongoing creative journey.
We spoke with him about his mission for the site, why he believes it's resonated with so many people, and what his gay beginnings were like. Paul also shared some of his favorite images from the blog with us.
Go below to read the the interview and watch a slide show of images (click mouse on bottom of slide show window to play).
Click mouse on bottom of slide show window to play
You mentioned on CNN that the blog was inspired by a friend’s photo. Was it originally intended to be just for you and your buddies?
Yes and no. I guess I assumed it would be something my friends would definitely respond to, both in aesthetics and wanting to participate. I always hoped it would spread as far as possible, and especially start to reach young LGBTQ kids. But I had no idea that would mean two million page views in exactly eight weeks time! It's kind of surreal, but absolutely amazing.
Why do you think the site has resonated so quickly with so many?
There's many layers why the blog is resonating so strongly with people. The obvious being: Millions of gay kids have all gone through roughly the same experiences, but we've never really shamelessly talked about them or shared them. So that part is very cathartic and celebratory, for both the viewer and the person who submitted something. But there's also many, many parents who contact me, because the blog is helping them to understand their kids better (gay and straight!). And there's some people who simply want to giggle at some heinous retro clothes, bad haircuts, and boys doing drag in 3rd grade—and that's ok, too.
Can you talk about the new "Born This Way Radio" show and what you hope to achieve with it?
"Born This Way Radio" will be every Sunday night 8-10pm on Moheak.com, and it's really just the living, breathing extension of the blog's message. And we hope it becomes a place where LGBTQ kids can tune in, and call in, and we can lend some support and guidance if they need it. But also a show that's light, funny, and entertaining.
Your background is in music as a manager, DJ, and club promoter. Do you think music differs from other mediums in terms of the ability to advance equality?
It's interesting, because in the 1960's, artists and musicians felt a duty to write songs that were evocative or spoke a truth to the culture. And that fearlessness has kind of faded away, which is sad. In the last decade, I can count on one finger the musicians who have blatantly tried to advance gay rights, and yup - it's Lady Gaga. People are quick to dismiss her, but she walks the walk and she backs it up. Can you name another massive pop singer who tweeted to congress, demanding to overturn "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"?
What happened when you discovered that you were born this way?
Yikes! Let me dust the cobwebs off the windmills of my mind for that one. In all honesty, I was a pretty happy gay kid, amongst the constant name-calling and slight bullying until I got out of high school. And like so many, that was my Wizard of Oz moment: I went from the drab, sepia tone of straight suburbia, and opened the door to the glorious, gay Technicolor world of the city. That's where I could flourish and define myself not only as a human being, but as an out, proud gay man. I highly recommend it!
Visit Born This Way by clicking here.