Last week I briefly introduced you to Jayce Baron, founder of Kiss+Tell, a LGBT dating and relationship panel and this week, you will learn more about this incredible man with a goal, a vision, and the drive to do so. He had every right to succumb to society’s misconceptions and negative scrutiny- but he didn’t. Instead, this young millionaire in the making took something society views as negative and unethical and turned it into something beautiful and positive. He is changing lives around him, one panel, one advice column, one day at a time. Trust me, I seen it for myself. I got the chance to chat with JB as he discussed his coming out story, his inspiration behind creating Kiss+Tell, and much, much more.
1.) For those who don’t know, tell us a little about The Kiss + Tell Collective?
JB: Kiss + Tell is a movement that creatively unites the community tackling social topics from a LGBT perspective through arts, media, and events. Kiss + Tell Live is a panel discussion I produce featuring movers and shakers in the LGBT community giving advice and their point of view on a variety of subjects. I try to make the panelist as diverse as possible to get different outlooks. I also produce the biweekly podcast called Kiss + Tell Radio.
2.) What incited you to create Kiss + Tell.
JB: I just wanted to create a platform for conversation. Many times people associate the LGBT community as the fun crowd who live forever young. Trust me, we love to hang from the chandelier, but I didn’t really see a place to express how we feel about certain topics without it being extremely uptight and uncomfortable, especially for younger people of color. I have a blog so I essentially made it a tangible event for Valentine’s Day discussing dating in the LGBT community because honestly… it is a hot mess. That went extremely well. People not only wanted more opportunities to talk, but wanted to broaden the discussion. So I did… and we’re still going!
3.) People love to use religion as a way to justify their “homophobia.” You come from a religious background. How did your family react to your sexuality?
JB: My dad was awkwardly extremely cool with it. He didn’t ask the questions I was terrified were coming my way. The conversation I was dreading my entire life lasted maybe 2 mins. I felt silly that I waited until I was 24. However, not only did my mother raise me in the church, but she is remarried to a pastor. It was actually my private Christian School that overstepped their boundaries and outed me to my mother two years after I graduated when I was 20. Who does that!? When she confronted me I confirmed, but at the time I was dating a girl and said it was “just a phase”. That phase obviously resurfaced and years later when I told her I was bringing a boyfriend home, she did not react well at all. It was killing me walking on eggshells not living in my truth, especially since I’m such an open book. There were lots of unanswered phone calls on my end. That was the first time I had to deal with my mother in the capacity of simply being two adults. It was hard because even though it was nothing new to me, it was new to her so I had to be patient. We both said things we didn’t mean, but the first lady is proud of what I’m doing with Kiss + Tell which I never thought would even come out of her mouth. She just wants to see her son happy and still love God. I love that lady and she loves me. Needless to say I was not invited to my 10 year high school reunion and they better be glad.
4.) Tell us a little about yourself? Education? Likes and dislikes?
JB: Who is Jayce? That’s a great question. I’m someone who loves people. I love to cuss. I love God. I love guacamole. I love to live life, take risks, and figure things out on the way. When I was younger everything was mapped out for me, then I realized that if I took a route I actually wanted to take, I was still going to be fine, if not better! I earned my bachelors from California State University, Fullerton and to be quite honest… it should come with a money back guarantee, baby. I graduated 2010 and was making more money in school part time than I was with my first corporate job out of school. With that said, it pushed me to start my own projects and companies. If I was going to struggle, it may as well be doing what I actually want to do. Don’t get me wrong, my college experience was a-fuckin-mazing, but the fact that most graduates will be paying for it longer than we are actually enrolled seems silly.
5.) Social media went to war when they found out Caitlyn Jenner would be honored at the Espys and given the Arthur Ashe courage award. According to many, she isn’t “deserving” of the award and there are many others in the world of sports who should have received it. What are your thoughts on this?
JB: I love Caitlyn Jenner. I don’t know where this mindset came from where people feel entitled to decide what another person deserves or not. I saw the argument that “All she did was lie for 40 years and hurt her family”. Well, I knew it was going to hurt my mother when I told her that her only son was a flaming homo, but I had to be selfish and live my life despite how it was going to affect my family. Obviously we are living in a time where the trans community is getting a lot of attention from the media and society is getting more comfortable with reality. Laverne Cox and Janet Mock are both transgender women actively working in mainstream media and are two of the women Caitlyn thanked and acknowledged in her acceptance speech. Someone brought up race. It’s not the fact that Caitlyn is a white trans woman, it’s that fact that she was Bruce Jenner, an American Olympian! The definition of a he-man, plus he was reentered into the spotlight because of the Kardashians. This entire time the country’s corny macho hero was actually a lady… the world was floored. If Michael Jordan came out in a crop top and said he was actually Mystica Joné the world would gag too. Michael Sam won the award last year and Muhammad Ali has been another recipient. Arthur Ashe was also African American. Do I think Caitlyn should use her platform to bring light to the devastating tragedies and murders happening in the trans community to women of color? Absolutely! Everyone has their opinions, but at the end of the day it’s not your or my award to give.
6.) You host an advice column titled #AskJayceBaron. What are some of the common questions people ask you?
JB: Believe it or not 90% of the questions I get are from heterosexual women. When I took on the job with Obvious Magazine, I was sure a gay male following was going to be the majority. People give elaborate backstories with pretty simple questions. What’s too soon to have sex? This new age idea of dating (“Netflix & chill”). Dealing with an ex. Stuff like that. I get specific, but the advice I would give to anyone when it comes to romantic matters is follow your gut. God installed us with instinct and we usually already know the solution.
7.) What is the best advice you’ve received or given someone?
JB: When I was in high school my dad saw me going off on someone over my silly friend’s problem that didn’t even have to do with me. He looked at me and said, “you’re only given a certain amount of energy per lifetime, use it wisely.” Changed my world! My personal advice to people is to just do it. Take that trip to Europe. Start that nonprofit that’s been burning in the back of your mind. People get in their own way a lot of times… so two step out of your own path!
8.) When I attended your last Kiss + Tell event, I noticed not only were there gay, transgender, bi, etc there but also heterosexuals as well. Tell me how important it is for you to include everyone?
JB: The LGBT community is divided in itself. There’s not an LGBT night club. It’s a gay nightclub, a lesbian nightclub, and transgender and bisexuals are somewhere in between or somewhere else. We all have questions, including heterosexuals. It’s crazy that something as simple as opening up conversation can be so informative. Things that may be “duh moments” to us can be something so foreign to others. I learn so much as the host of Kiss + Tell Live and I want that information to be accessible to anyone. We may identify with our own labels, but we are all somehow united in the same community.
9.) At Kiss + Tell the panelists touched on interracial dating in the gay community and how there is only one type of relationship on tv (black and white) and never black on black love. What do you feel is the reason why we do not see black gay men on t.v.?
JB: I wouldn’t say it’s never black gay love, but yes majority of the time it’s an interracial LGBT couple. This is a topic Gabriel Maldonado, one of the panelist and a good friend of mine feels very strongly about. Although we may disagree on certain things, I agree that society may not be ready to digest LGBT black on black love yet, especially within our own community. Many of us African Americans come from a strong religious and often baptist background, like myself. I also think society confuses sexuality with being “soft” and traditionally looks at black men hard hyper masculine figures. Kudos to Patrik Ian Polk for creating Noah’s Arc and showing black on black gay love independently because we needed to see people like us on TV, but the world is just now getting used to seeing it in mainstream media. Maybe producers simply want to go a step further with diversity inclusion? Who knows? Just another barrier to break. That’s all.
10.) A young man is struggling with his sexuality and being accepted and wants to come out to his parents. He comes to you and asks your opinion on how he should approach them about the situation. What do you tell him?
JB: It takes patience. Do it at your own time and at your own pace, but be aware that time is of the essence. Because of the work put in by those living in their truth before us, it’s a lot more acceptable and appreciated to openly live your life as someone who is LGBT than it was 40 years ago. Take advantage of that. Pray about it. Pray for yourself and pray for others around you who may be negatively affected. You never know, some people just simply have a lack of awareness and sometimes it takes being yourself to see their true colors and they’re still your biggest supporters.
11.) What’s next for Jayce and what is your goal for the Kiss + Tell movement?
JB: The point of Kiss + Tell is to start conversion… and make it fun! The more opportunities the better. Honestly, I want a talk show and when the time it right, that will happen. I think that’s the biggest entity I see this thing going as of today, but the sky is the limit. People tell me they need it and want it so I have no issue putting in the work and organizing content. I’m developing my current outlets Kiss + Tell Live and Kiss + Tell Radio. I going to work with college students as well. I wish I had things like this when I was younger trying to figure it out on my own. A University tour would be ideal. It started as a one-time Valentine’s Day event… the universe will guide me in the right direction.
12.) Anything else you would like to add?
JB: No one is perfect and everyone battles their own personal circumstances. You’re a rockstar and don’t allow anyone to make you feel less than fucking gold. Enjoy life and don’t forget to laugh along the way. Doing your own thing is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of sacrifice and at the beginning you’re more uncomfortable than relaxed. But in the end, never give up or settle on what you want out of life.
There you have it folks. For years and years people shamed and ridiculed those for being “different” without any justification behind it. Although we have much work to do to really “change” the world, it starts with you. Many of us are too scared or worried about what others might think of us that we hinder ourselves from greatness and really living our lives. Take Jayce for instance. Yes he is an openly gay black man-but that’s not all he is. He is an openly gay black man with a college degree, a writer, philanthropist, and he is changing the world a step at a time. Jayce isn’t letting societies’ preconceptions of “the gay black man” hamper his greatness. Like I always say, it takes a real man to keep it 100 with himself. So no matter if you are gay, bi, trans, or whatever the case may be, don’t let the world determine who YOU will become. Like Jayce said, “You’re a rockstar and don’t allow anyone to make you feel less than fucking gold.”
Watch Jayce’s latest Kiss+Tell Panel below:
By: Simone Grant