Jacob Stella Is an Advocate for the LGBTQIA+ Community — Here’s What He Wants You to Know

Instagram / @andthatsjacob

For the sixth year in a row, POPSUGAR is dedicating the month of June to recognising LGBTQIA+ voices, having honest conversations about sexuality and gender, and honouring individuality, through first-person interviews and allyship guidance. The POPSUGAR team is sharing these stories throughout the month, so be sure to find all our pieces here.

With 25,000 followers on Instagram, Jacob Stella is a man of many talents. He’s a professional makeup artist, a plus-size model, a content creator, owner of beauty brand BOCAJ Beauty and host of podcast, Unfiltrd. 

You would think there would be no time for anything else when pursuing so many ventures, but for Stella, he’s only getting started. The influencer’s passion and presence on social media not only represents men in the beauty industry but also helps amplify the voices of those within the LGBTQIA+ community

His brand BOCAJ Beauty sells mainly beauty tools, from false lashes to beauty sponges, with each product garnering rave reviews from those who’ve tried them. POPSUGAR Australia caught up with the beauty mogul to chat about all things Pride.

POPSUGAR Australia: What does Pride Month mean to you?

Jacob Stella: Pride month is a time of reflection and celebration of our victories as a group fighting for equal rights and human rights. I feel like as each year goes by we are able to educate more and more people about the discrimination that LGBTQIA+ people STILL have to face on a daily basis — especially our BIPOC and trans brothers and sisters.

PS: What does it mean to embrace LGBTQIA+ Pride?

JS: To embrace Pride means more than just slapping a rainbow flag over a logo. It’s about doing your homework and being diligent and proactive. It can be as simple as checking in on a friend or family member of yours that’s part of the LGBTQIA+ community or even going to your local charity (Minus18, for example) and saying, “I have a spare hour a week that I want to use to help others. What can I do?”.

PS: What is an issue the LGBTQIA+ community is facing that many people might not know about?

JS: An issue that popped up in February of this year that we’re still currently battling was a bill that was trying to be passed in parliament where faith-based schools were no longer allowed to expel gay students (amazing!), however, it will retain the right to expel transgender students. Discrimination against ANY child is wrong, however, transgender children are at a much higher risk of self-harm than almost any other group in the community, which is why we need to fight for this bill to be scrapped.

PS: How can individuals continue to support the LGBTQIA+ all year round?

JS: People can support the LGBTQIA+ community all year round by generally trying to be more open-minded. When you see something on the news about a group trying to change the name of something because it’s deemed offensive, try to not be so quick to roll your eyes and scowl at the TV. It’s for a reason, and I think people need to check their own privilege more often — just because these things may not directly impact them, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have an impact on others.

PS: How are you planning to celebrate Pride this year?

JS: I’m celebrating Pride this year by going down to my local bar, supporting our talented queens and curating inspiring content across all of my social platforms. I’m aiming to promote and use my platform to shine a spotlight on other LGBTQIA+ creators and use this month to speak up about issues that I see we’re still currently facing as LGBTQIA+ people and how we can overcome them.

PS: How would you suggest approaching the topic of pronouns when meeting someone new for the first time?

JS: This might sound silly, but it’s as simple as asking. It may feel odd or weird at first, but it’s like working a muscle — the more you do it, the stronger it becomes and the easier it gets.

Set the example, be the role model. People don’t understand how appreciated it is by those in our community when we’re asked what our pronouns are because it shows that you’re doing your best to ensure the person is welcomed and feels comfortable.

PS: Can you speak to your coming out experience and what that was like?

JS: My coming out experience was like out of a movie — I was on my way home from my friend’s 13th birthday party, and I knew I was going to tell my mum in the car that night. It was just me and her. I was so nervous when I told her, and her reaction wasn’t how I had imagined. She asked me a few questions about it (are you sure, how do you know.) and wanted to make sure that I was knowledgeable enough to understand what it meant because I was so young at the time. I speak about it a lot more in-depth on my podcast Unfiltr’d (available on YouTube and all streaming services).

PS: What advice would you give to someone who might be grappling with their sense of identity and might not know how to discuss this with their friends and family?

JS: Surround yourself with people or find people who allow you to be whoever you want to be — a close cousin, a group of friends that you share a common interest with. Surrounding yourself with people that you don’t have to think twice around will allow you to be the best version of yourself, possible.

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