Matt Dallas: When it comes to my upbringing, I have a very large family. We're kind of a very motley crew as it is, and I was very fortunate that I was just . . . comfortable. I was raised to be very much who I was. I always found myself off with my female cousins, whether that meant dressing up, having dance parties, or whatever. That was the world that I immersed myself into, and I think I was lucky that I didn't have a father who was trying to pull me out of it.
The Summer before my freshman year of high school, I made two guy friends. They were gay, and I basically just spent that Summer hanging out with them, and that was when I realised like, "Oh, gay is a thing. That's what's happening here." That's when I knew I was different, and as I entered into high school, it all started really clicking and making a lot more sense.
Blue Hamilton: As for me, I grew up in a very small town called Florissant in Colorado. I think, even today, the town has like 100 people in it. It's a very small community up in the Rockies, and so there was no LGBTQ community to speak of. I literally only remember one woman there that we suspected was a lesbian. I didn't have the resources. The internet wasn't there.
Yeah, but you know what's really interesting? I've been a huge Madonna fan my whole life, because my sisters were into her and, you know, it was the '80s. She was a huge influence on my life, because I was a big fan. And I mean, look at who her audience is.
It's just funny to me that I had the power of an artist with a voice — and the impact that she made in my life — when I didn't have anybody else. To bring it back to what Matt and I do as far as being out there and being visible, that's another reason I feel like it's really important. Even though the internet's out there and the world is a great big open oyster now, there are kids in towns who don't have those people around them. So at least they have these resources to go out and look at.
MD: In terms of Pride, I've been to two, and they were both in San Diego. I have to be really honest, I was really turned off by LGBTQ Pride, even in my early 20s. It just didn't feel like it necessarily represented me. Don't get me wrong, it was cool to see everybody coming together. I remember I saw Cyndi Lauper, and to have someone who's that famous that's there and supporting us was very meaningful to me. But as I got older, I just started to feel conflicted.
I celebrate my pride in a different way. Pride is something that we live every day.
BH: I've been to a couple, and I have to echo you. I think that the Pride festivities that I've been to do represent a specific portion of the community, but they didn't necessarily represent me. I went in LA, and it was years ago. It was fun, and I didn't really see anything that I was appalled by, but I didn't feel like I fit in. What I took out of it was that pride, for me, was not going to a parade. I celebrate my pride in a different way. Pride is something that we live every day and I don't need to go to a parade. That's how I felt at the time. To me it means to just being true to who you are and living by example.
MD: Of course, I want to say that I don't mean to pass any sort of judgement on somebody who enjoys Pride. You should be who you are and do what makes you happy, but that just wasn't me. I obviously feel the same way as Blue: my pride is about living openly and honestly and publicly and living by example.
That being said, I do think there's something very powerful in like a giant mass of people coming together, like the Women's March. That sent a huge message, and I think that that's very impactful. So, I think a Pride parade sends a very loud, important message, and it's a very powerful tool. But I also think it's time that we reconsider what that looks like in the context of Pride.
I think a Pride Parade sends a very loud, important message.
I will say I regret that I wasn't able to be at a Pride after the Pulse nightclub shooting. I wanted to be able to be a part of that. To come out and show the support and say, like, "We, as a community, are coming together to say that we will not stand for this."
Like I said, though, my pride is in my life. I felt the best when I came out publicly. I had spent so many years so afraid of coming out. It had been about 10 years that I spent really conflicted about who I was and being open and honest publicly. When I did come out, I remember sending the tweet and then just like refreshing. Like, "Oh, there's no taking it back now." Even though there was like fear and nervousness in the moment, there was a huge release, and I felt very proud of myself that I was able to fight back and take a stance for who I was. It really was a moment of "Wow, I did something really cool and I'm really proud of myself." It felt special to get to be a part of something, to stand up for something that I had been so afraid of, that I had been hiding for so many years.
— matt dallas (@themattdallas) January 7, 2013
BH: I mean, there's nothing that necessarily comes to mind for me, nothing that big. But there's one huge memory that sticks out for me. We were at Disneyland last year waiting in line. A 13-year-old kid came up to us with his mum, and they basically told us that this kid came out and feels comfortable because of watching us on YouTube.
MD: And it was the mother's reaction!
BH: I mean, yeah, but I guess it was more the kid for me. But the mum was very emotional and, like, teary-eyed and was just super appreciative and nice. It was her story, I guess, but it was about the kid.
MD: For me what I thought was cool was that the mum was saying that, as supportive as she was of her son, she was just always so fearful for what his life might look like, and she just was afraid that he wouldn't be able to find happiness, but when he made her sit down and watch our videos, she was like, "Oh, my son will be able to have this life and will be able to have the life I always dreamed he would have." And she felt like she didn't have to be afraid anymore.
There are now so many voices that it can be something really interesting and special.
As much as I've shared to the contrary, I am excited for Pride this year. I feel more open and honest with who I am than I ever have been in my life, and I feel like we are at such a crossroads in our society. I mean, we've had so many breakthroughs. You see this real shift in society, so it is exciting to see where the next Pride Months over the next few years are going to take us. I think it's an exhilarating time because it can go any direction, and I think there are now so many voices that it can be something really interesting and special.
BH: I'm actually excited for it. I feel I'm more aware of it than I've been in the past, and I feel we're able to make an influence and be a part of it on a different level than before. It's time to get started.
As told to Ryan Roschke