Last month, I blogged about Wicca, a positive gay role model in the comics industry. For this month, I want to mention a man that has had significant influence to me in terms of coming out and the gay community. He may only be a reality star/model, but his story speaks to me after reading his story in an old issue of Instinct Magazine. His name is John Paul Calderon, a.k.a. JP.
He was a contestant on Survivor and became a regular model on the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency (JDMA). Besides being “ridiculously good-looking,” his personality is down-to-earth and he shows no signs of flamboyancy. He came out when he was 31 on TV and in a gay magazine with the support from the first supermodel, Janice Dickinson. He is extremely brave, and I admire his tenacity and his courage. Some of his words paralleled my life, so I have this great admiration for him. At the season 4 finale of JDMA, he semi retires from modeling to being an agent under the tutelage of Janice. I wish him the best in luck in his future endeavors because he inspires people like me. He deserves it.
“I had decided when I was younger that I was never going to come out. I was planning to get married and have kids, be closeted about it and force myself to be something I knew I wasn’t,” he says very matter-of-factly. J.P. says he knew at the time that his plan wasn’t full-proof, but his decision took precedent over his plight. In his mind-as in the minds of many young gay men-being tormented and closeted was certainly better than being gay.
“Don’t get me wrong-I do have my feminine moments. You can tell I’m gay. My friends say I’m getting gayer and gayer by the minute!” he animatedly declares. “But, back then, I would see guys who would wear real tight jeans and sashay around or whatever, and I would think, Good for you, at least you are being you. That’s something I’ve never been all my life.”
J.P.’s realization of never being true to himself make him feel today. “I’ve always regretted it,” he says quietly. “I’ve hated myself. And to realize now that I’ve always hated myself my whole life isn’t easy.”
Do you think your dad knew you were gay? “I think my dad knew. Sure. I think everyone [in my family] knows. No one is dumb. I think the more you don’t talk about it, the more they can dance around it and feel comfortable because they can treat me like I am no different.”
J.P. hopes his story will help others and that he can be a role model to a younger generation of gay youth who might be afraid to live their lives honestly and without regret. “Happiness is important. When you’re ready, that’s the time to come out, but just realize life is short. Yeah, it’s a stupid cliché, but I kick myself in the ass all the time now for not doing this earlier because I’ve just wasted 8 to 10 years of my life that could have been…,” he pauses, “…different.”
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