Why Us Why Now

My name is Josh and I am one of the writers on ABC’s The Real O’Neals. I was raised in Fayetteville, Georgia. My father is a Southern Baptist pastor of a mega church and my mother is a good old Southern lawyer. I was always labeled as different, funny, or “special.” I was just told I could “express myself” in the arts. I was thrust into theatre and writing plays as a young kid before I had any idea what true sexual orientation was. My parents didn’t either. I go into work every day thinking about how I want to write something that will help the little me’s out there and their parents, who, because of their geography or upbringing, don’t understand the gay community. Most gay kids grow up with heterosexual parents. If I were raised in an African American home my parents would raise me to uphold the culture in which they were raised, because they too are African American, but to grow up homosexual in a heterosexual environment can be very isolating. What The Real O’Neals does is show little gay kids that they are not alone. Imagine you’re a religious, closeted gay teenager. You don’t know any gay people in real life, and all the gay people on TV are adults who aren’t going what you’re going through. Imagine how much less lonely you’d feel if you could see a version yourself on a major network and on top of that, one that your parents watch!

Imagine how much less lonely you’d feel if you could see a version yourself on a major network...

Coming out to my family was the single hardest thing I have ever done. I didn’t know if I would be dis-owned, or cut off, or worse, if my soul would be in danger of not being with my loved ones in the after life. Luckily my parents are some of the best people in the world and their first response was love. They were confused, and I am sure things were said on both sides of the conversation that we wish could be taken back. We were dealing with things in real time. If there had have been a show on television at the time to spark a conversation, some of those things might not have been said. There was a period in my life when I did not talk to my parents, and I will never get that time back. I regret that whole-heartedly. There were birthdays and holidays that were spent without each other because of a divide over my sexuality. We all learned that relationships with each other are more important than the religious rules that are used as weapons to divide people. At the end of the day, who I love doesn’t hurt anyone, and I want to emulate the love that my parents share with each other to this day. The experience of coming out is something that every gay person has, and they are all different. One thing they all have in common is that it takes a huge amount of courage to tell people that you are different from them. It is our differences that I hope we start to celebrate that will begin the much needed healing in our nation today. I happen to do it through humor, and that is why I ask you to start watching our show, and other shows like us that celebrate the diversity and difference in each of our families. Whether you are in a red state or blue state, a city or a rural community, or even Christian or other religion. We can all use a little laughter, and a little education about what love looks like.



Moments That Made Us Proud To Be Queer In 2016