Nov. 1, 2022

Grey Jacks' struggle with internalized homophobia and how he moved beyond it

Grey Jacks shares his evangelical upbringing and how internalized homophobia had plagued him for over 10 years after he realized he was gay.  It made it nearly impossible for him to come out.  Fortunately, he had the opportunity to observe an older gay man that exemplified the man that he knew he wanted to be.  Once he finally came out in his mid twenties, all the internalized homophobia dissipated and he was able to embrace himself as a healthy gay man and step into his power.  He recounts that his coming out felt like he was receiving a calling to example healthy behavior for other gay men.  If you are experiencing internalized homophobia, this episode is for you.

Grey's Profile

Be a Guest
Follow on Facebook
Maddox's Links
Mailing List Signup
Rate & Review


Coach Maddox  0:03  
Hello, Grey Jacks, welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast. I have been particularly excited to have this conversation with you because our previous conversations have been awesome.

Grey Jacks  0:16  
Thank you, Maddox. It's so wonderful to be here on The Authentic Gay Podcast. Hello, listeners.

Coach Maddox  0:22  
So why don't well, before we jump in, I want to tell the audience that gray is a musician, a recording artist, and a coach with a focus on creativity. And I'm, I'm excited to hear more about that, because that sounds fascinating to me. Anything that is about creativity usually catches my ear. Great, why don't you tell the listeners how you and I know each other?

Grey Jacks  0:52  
Yeah, I'd love to, you know, I'm a member of an organization called the Gay Coaches Alliance and at our yearly conference this year, Maddox came up to New York, and and we met there. And just from our very first conversation, we just had a really special connection that just kept growing over those three days. And then as soon as we departed for our homes, you and I really flowered this friendship. And so yeah, that's where we met each other.

Coach Maddox  1:18  
We have we find ourselves on Zoom fairly regularly. And we have talked about the fact that if we lived in close proximity, we would be hanging out doing cool stuff together. No, no two ways about it. So that's the hardest part of of meeting people in at a far distance. You know, I'm thankful for zoom, because the way it can connect us. And, you know, I think about all the wild fun activities that I could be doing with peeps that I've met from afar.

Grey Jacks  1:49  
Once wonderful, you have this podcast, because you really inserted yourself into it. So we all get to know you. In addition to our personal connection, we get to know you through your, your podcast, in your work are doing here. So thank you for that.

Coach Maddox  2:01  
Thank you. Thank you very much for saying that. All right. So before we jump into the big question, I would love for you to share with me what it means to you to be an authentic gay man.

Grey Jacks  2:18  
You know, for me, I think authenticity is just really tied to self acceptance and self love. The authenticity grows straight out of that. Authenticity requires truth telling. It requires an aspect of just open armed acceptance again, not just of yourself, but of other people around you.

Coach Maddox  2:46  
Hmm, beautiful. I love that self acceptance first, followed by acceptance, acceptance of others. That's beautiful. Thank you for that. Great, what a beautiful contribution. I as I collect these, I'm thinking there's some kind of future book happening here. So down to our question of the hour, what is life's biggest challenge for you as a gay man, something that you've gone through? Or something that maybe you continue to go through?

Grey Jacks  3:21  
Yeah, I love this question. It really, there was a lot of threads that came up as I as I spent time pondering this question. You know, I would say that, for me, I've had a number of challenges throughout my life, you know, early on growing up in a really loving home, where I was being homeschooled by my mother, and but also growing up in an Evangelical community. So knowing early on that I was a gay person. It was, it was something that I learned to hide away from everyone else. You know, for me, it took me until my 20s, mid 20s to come out. And I really struggled for that last decade, with being able to just imagine a life for myself as an out gay person, it just seemed like something that was too dangerous or too, just too scary. But at the time, I was living in Tennessee, and I had a another gay man who was in my friend group. He was also a musician. And just I'd watched the way everyone interacted with him and treated him so lovingly, and he was just such a, he was so authentic, right? He was such himself. And in that, in that moment, I really took that to heart and it was almost like what he was what he was mirroring, for me. That level of acceptance, was able to heal something inside of me in that moment, and allowed me to say, you know, this is someone I would like to be like, right, I would like to be able to be out. I don't know. I think I was I was I was struggling with a lot of characterizations of what a gay man is right? Negative characterization internalized homophobia. So having that shift, it was it was a game changer. And suddenly having this one person as, as kind of a, they didn't even know they were being a mentor for me, they didn't even know they were being a positive gay. You know, representative for me, it allowed me to say, This is who I want to be. And so I came out. And it's really been just an incredible. And, you know, I've learned a lot that first year was, was hard, because you go into this thinking of like, well, now everything's going to change. I've come out so everything's going to happen for me.

Coach Maddox  5:39  
You know, it's amazing how many stories I've heard that were men have said exactly what you just said, you know, I thought, and I recall that I, I'll come out and everything will be okay. You know, I remember thinking, when I come out, Oh, I found my people everything's going to be okay. Now. And in some regards, it was worse in some regards. And there's, there's something I want to speak to two that you said before we pass it up the gentleman that you met, that you got to observe the role that was a role model and a mentor for you, even though he may not have known it, you are so fortunate to have had that. I didn't have that there was no role model, there was nobody to look up to that had paved the way I had to stumble through every aspect of it. But of course, I'm old enough that there was was this was pre internet, there wasn't even a lot available in print. Other than, you know, pornography, they're just there, there weren't articles, there wasn't anything to guide me through the coming out process, the trying to integrate into a new community, the there wasn't anything. So I think you are so fortunate to have had that.

Grey Jacks  6:54  
One, what he inspired in me is he inspired me to want to be that that person to someone else. I want to be that living example, to someone else, so that someone else can look and say, here's an out gay man, that is completely himself. He's completely himself. And I can do that too. I can come out and I can I can I can be completely myself. So that was it felt like a calling in that moment, right. Not only was he changing my life and allowing me to come out of the shadows fully at 25. But it then became I felt like it was a calling to be that same example.

Coach Maddox  7:29  
I love how you're wording that a calling because I don't I have not heard. I've heard the term I'm aware of callings. But I've never heard anybody refer to their coming out process as a calling. And I absolutely love that.

Grey Jacks  7:47  
Yeah, it was it was really it was really beautiful. And at the time, I was living in an incredible creative community in Tennessee. The people around me were starting rock camps for young women. So we were all jumping in and participating in these incredible week long camps we were throwing for for young women, teach them to play music, write music, record music. And this individual was was was involved in that as well. So immediately, I had an opportunity to step out in my community and be an out gay person who was modeling that loving and authentic self for the people around me.

Coach Maddox  8:26  
And just curious, but is that man still in your life?

Grey Jacks  8:31  
We are still friends. Yeah, we we don't see each other that often. But I did tell him many years later. What sort of what he meant to me and the role he played in my life. And he was, he was dumbfounded. He was absolutely shocked. And he was utterly dumbfounded. I don't I don't think he knew really how to take it in.

Coach Maddox  8:49  
Wow, he was clueless that he had meant so much to you. He was close. Yeah. what a what a lovely gift that he gave to you unknowingly. But then what a lovely gift you gave to him intentionally to come back to him with those words of acknowledgement. What a gift Yeah,

Grey Jacks  9:10  
I felt I felt so even knowing that it might have been an odd conversation for him to hear me say this to Him, but I just felt this need to share that because I wanted to just affirm him a little bit. As as just what a what a wonderful, you know, member of our community and friend he'd been and how that really had just meant everything to me. It's been life changing, honestly. You know, it

Coach Maddox  9:34  
is it is amazing how we struggle to receive. We do just in general we the collective we we I don't know anybody that hasn't or doesn't struggle to receive. I've been practicing receiving for a very long time and there's still moments when something comes my way that I I just I go into that place. I had something just happened a day Where to go where I went? Wow, are? Are you worthy of that? That was what came up for me in a brief moment. Are you worthy of that? I stepped back. And I thought about it. And I thought, yes, yes, I am. So it's a yeah, thank you for for

Grey Jacks  10:19  
language and so wonderful. You've, you've developed that ability to pause in that moment, and not react with resistance, pausing the moment to take it in, and then be able to push yourself to respond in a gracious and an accepting manner.

Coach Maddox  10:36  
Right? Well, and I even said to the person out loud, I said, Wow, I'm, I'm, I'm having a little difficulty receiving that. Which is a form of vulnerability in and of itself, you know, to put a voice to that, but it felt right in the moment.

Grey Jacks  10:54  
On coming out is a act of vulnerability. Right? It's a horrible thing that we do.

Coach Maddox  11:00  
Yes, it's right up there at the very top for those of us that, you know, for those of us that live in a marginalized community where we had to come out, yeah,

Grey Jacks  11:10  
yeah. So in that moment, for me just sort of flipped a switch, where I just suddenly felt in my own power. I suddenly had just really embraced who I was fully and really liked who I was. So that was, that was a nice, you know, a Trent. really transformational moment where it didn't matter who accepted me beyond me. Great. How

Coach Maddox  11:35  
do you think you did that? Because you're telling a very unique story. Right now, I've listened to a shitload of stories since I started this podcast, and I have my own story. And I have not yet really heard a story where somebody came out and just right off the bat, felt this sense of empowerment and stood tall and moved for so many years. And I know for me, it was, it's been a lifelong process. I feel like I'm part of what's driving this podcast and my platform. And everything I'm doing right now is we teach what we most need to learn. And I'm still working on that, on some level, standing in that personal power, I would love to know, if it's something that you are aware of and can articulate. What enabled you to go from being in the closet in the shadows hiding, being invisible, to making the declaration coming out, I'm gay, and then just write that in there, stepping into that power that you're talking about? unpack that for us, please?

Grey Jacks  12:53  
Yeah, I would think it was it was two things. I think that, that moment of getting of the power, it started to happen beforehand. And it wasn't even necessarily about my, my sexuality until I came out. It was really just about embracing who I was, and loving who I was putting down the guilt. Right, I had been taught to carry so much guilt through being in the evangelical church. And I just hit this moment, this was even before I came out of the closet, where I just said, I'm going to put all this guilt down. It's, it feels to me, like it is a wasted emotion. I just can't I don't want to carry it anymore. And so I put it down, and I almost put a bit of a wall around that type of judgment. And the the, the time that it took to kind of intellectually, you know, grow into that as a as a something that I'm sort of living that took, you know, another 10 years, I would say, for sure.

Coach Maddox  13:55  
Yeah, but he was still what you're talking about at age 24. I mean, yeah. Don't you think that's a little bit out of the ordinary? Or maybe a lot out of the ordinary?

Grey Jacks  14:06  
Yeah, maybe. I mean, I think I had really incredible close friends who I knew, accepted me no matter who I was. And but even that, it still was a challenge to say it the first time to tell someone the first time. You know, I remember the very first time that I told one of my friends that I was gay person. We were hanging out and it took me four hours, just of hemming and hawing and talking around it to finally you know, say those words, right?

Coach Maddox  14:39  
I remember those days. Well, even though for me it was well over 40 years ago, I remember those days. Well,

Grey Jacks  14:45  
yeah, the next friend, it took me three hours to say those words. The next one, you know, it's it got a little easier. But you know, it's it's scary to admit. It's scary to admit what you all were always known Um, but it's also such a relief, to not have to carry just this beautiful part of yourself that you have been treating, like it is something to be, you know, hidden from everyone, because it will make them uncomfortable or it'll make them not respect you.

Coach Maddox  15:27  
Yeah, like a deformity, you know, we treat that aspect of ourselves kind of like the like the demon or the enemy.

Grey Jacks  15:35  
Right. Right. I think there's something to being raised. You know, and being homeschooled, I think that, that experience, I think, that taught me to think a little bit differently outside of the box. You know, my education structure sort of wasn't the same as if I'd been in a public schools situation. And so I think I just, I just had a way of, of looking at things differently, and even reacting to them emotionally, somewhat differently. I don't know if I can say that, that's, that helped me. And when I, when I came out, I felt that calling and stepping into that power to be a living example. I think I was just so glad to be there. And finally be there and be be through it and be over hiding myself. Because it was just so exhausting. Yes, it takes

Coach Maddox  16:31  
an incredible amount of energy to 24/7 Be somebody different than who you really are.

Grey Jacks  16:37  
And it was crushing my ability to be creative. It was crushing my ability to develop myself as an artist.

Coach Maddox  16:46  
Well, and it makes relationships of any kind, almost impossible. Because everybody in our lives, they know us for some, like fabricated. I don't know if lies the right word, but this this fabricated persona, which is not remotely who we really are. Right. So our, our brainstorming all based on something that's not real. Really.

Grey Jacks  17:09  
Yeah. And we're performing to protect ourselves. And it's

Coach Maddox  17:13  
necessary, you know, until you've walked in these shoes, you don't know. You know, I again, and again, I hear people, you know, straight people talking about living a lie and deceiving everybody around you and all that. And that's yes. And no, that's not what it was about at all. It was just surviving.

Grey Jacks  17:39  
It was just surviving. Well, that's why I think, you know, podcasts like this are so important. They're so important for us as as gay men to hear how our experience is, hear the university ality of those experiences, but also hear the ways in which we are these bright lights for others,

Coach Maddox  18:06  
and how we're the same and different all at the same time.

Grey Jacks  18:10  
That's right, thank God, we're different.

Coach Maddox  18:12  
Yes. Yes, every story is like a every story is like a fingerprint. No, no two are completely alike. Your story is only your story.

Grey Jacks  18:24  
I always tell, you know, artists that you know, we do a lot of comparing ourselves to other people constantly. And just having that idea that that no one can do what you can do. As an artist. You can't do what I can do, I can't do what you can do. Those gifts are utterly unique, the way that we have developed them, the ways in which we have fed ourselves with influences and the way we regurgitate. Those are completely special, and no two are the same.

Coach Maddox  18:55  
Well, and I think what you're saying really applies to every aspect of our lives. Not just the creativity, but yes, no, your, your life's not going to be like my life. Your personality is not going to be like my personality, though. On a granular level,

Grey Jacks  19:16  
requires our emotional needs.

Coach Maddox  19:20  
Yeah, nobody can feel the energy that you feel or bring to the energy that you are and bring to the cosmos. That's right. So tell me let's move forward a little bit. And how all of this you know, you you laid the guilt down, you laid the shame down all the stuff that had religion had put on you stepped into this power? How has that unfolded as you have matured, because we're talking about a little over 20 years ago. Correct. Yeah,

Grey Jacks  20:01  
that was that was 20 years ago 45 now. And, you know, the one thing that had happened at that time was that I really had hardened my heart and had hardened it towards my spiritual self. Because my spiritual community didn't offer me a place to exist as a gay man. So in order to protect myself, I hardened that side of myself. So it really the last 20 years, it's it's been, you know, a journey to refine my own spiritual connection, refined a sense of, of my own spiritual being. That I don't feel like I need to answer to someone else for I don't need permission to have right. I don't need permission to be a deeply wise and spiritual being. Beautiful.

Coach Maddox  20:57  
And I think it bears saying that, you know, spirituality and religion are two very different things. That's right. You know, you can be I consider myself a deeply spiritual man. And yet, I do not consider myself even remotely religious. I don't buy into any kind of religious doctrine or dogma. Now, do I draw from some of it? I've studied, not to great extent, but I've studied a little bit here, and there are other world religions, and they all have something of value. But I don't I can't say that I would, would would put myself in any box. Right regard?

Grey Jacks  21:51  
Well, and it's so interesting that we're not welcomed in these religious communities. But yet, I think that we as gay men, as queer people, we have the ability to be some of the deepest spiritual people that there are. Yes, but yeah, we're driven. We're driven away. I agree.

Coach Maddox  22:13  
I am, I'm going for the first time ever to on Sunday, I'm going to a Unitarian Church. And I've read a little bit about it. And I've had some friends share a little bit about it. And I'm very curious. I'm very intrigued by what I've read. And I do know that they are open arms, for the LGBTQ community, they will, yes, they are. Whereas some of the churches will marry you. But you can't be Minister in that church. You can fully participate in every aspect in the Unitarian church,

Grey Jacks  22:49  
they do not eautiful community,

Coach Maddox  22:51  
I I'm really getting that I actually met a whole bunch of Unitarian people for lunch last weekend, and was very taken in by how open and warm and friendly and inviting they were. It was a very noticeable difference than most situations around religion, and even a big noticeable difference in just random social situations in life. Yeah, it was like, Wow, very welcoming. And so I'm going to kind of explore a little bit because I've, I've not, although I've had been very spiritual most of my life, it's been a solitary thing. And I've always thought it would be beautiful to have an aspect of community around that spirituality, where they went hand in hand.

Grey Jacks  23:51  
As gay people, we hear the word church, we flinch,

Coach Maddox  23:53  
we do you know, if the hand goes up, the hand goes up. And so this is a this is a huge step to even be willing to go into the place that, you know, they call church. Yeah,

Grey Jacks  24:10  
yes. Well, no, this is what's so beautiful, is that there are such strong and fiercely, you know, accepting religious communities, the UU church being one of them. And I have had my own experiences with their communities and, and really was moved, I was very moved. I had an interesting spirits with my, with my husband, he attended a church for many years of me Apalis where he lived, and he asked me to come visit his church about three years ago. And you know, they actually have some, some queer leadership as their assistant pastor, these kinds of positions. So I go into the church and I'm sitting in a pupil, myself and my husband singing in the choir. I'm sitting through this service. And I just I start to feel this welling up of this deep sadness. This deep sadness shows up and it just is rising. And I'm finding that I'm on the verge of tears sitting in this church. And it carries on throughout the service. And I'm, I'm physically crying, just huge emotion. And I, it took me a couple of days to understand it. But I think what I what I sort of sussed out was that this was the first time that I had been in a religious space where I felt safe. I felt accepted. And I didn't realize how much spiritual wounding I still had. Again, this is just three years ago, that in that moment, when I felt that safety, all of this residual energy, just needed to come through. Yes,

Coach Maddox  25:57  
I love that. I love what you're sharing. And I have a similar story of my own. It was probably in the mid 90s, a friend invited 96 Maybe a friend can continue to invite me to church and there were times when I would just say fuck you I don't do organized religion. Leave me alone, you know. And one day he didn't you asked one day said you want to go to church with me. And I don't know. I said, Okay. I have no idea why I said, Okay. When we walked in that morning, as I walked through the door and into the sanctuary, I'll never forget it. I felt this overwhelming energy of love. The minute I walked into the sanctuaries service had not even started. And we got seated. And it moved me deeply enough that I, I was a member of that church for 10 years. And it was not close. It was a far drive. It was a 30 mile round trip drive to church every every Sunday. And for the first six months, every Sunday, I would sit in that pew and tears would stream down my face during the entire service for six months before I got to the bottom of the emotional well, upheaval that was coming up. And I think it was exactly what you're describing. It was this feeling of this is the first time I've ever felt safe and seen and acknowledged and, and even loved. And I stayed for 10 years, until the church began to change at one point. And there was this, this point where I realized I wasn't getting spiritually fed the way I had been. And I left and that was 2005. And so now we're talking 17 years I've been doing the math, right? Yeah, I've been I've just been floating I have not I've wavered in and out. I went into a church for about eight months and really gave it the college try was in every Sunday. And I just never felt really connected to it. I never felt that sense of community or like I belonged. And so I stopped going. So we'll see, I'm feeling very hopeful about this coming Sunday. I'm feeling like I'm hoping I'm going to walk in there and feel like I've come home, because I really would like to have a spiritual community and not be the solo guy. Yes.

Grey Jacks  28:29  
Absolutely. Absolutely. One, just imagine, you know, the experiences that you had are disgusting. You know, we're, we're all all of our community is carrying so much of this energy of this, this wounded spiritual energy. You know, it's staggering to start to think about but again, we are deeply spiritual beings, some of the most spiritual that there are, and the best thing that can ever happen is for a gay person to come back to their sense of, of spiritual connection, however they find it.

Coach Maddox  29:11  
Yes, yes. And this very closely ties into the way we started this topic, which was around internalized homophobia because there isn't anything like a trip into a church to to rekindle that, because it's, you know, in some way buried deep inside of us. Where I know you talked about visiting the church three years ago with your husband, do you still attend that occasionally? Or was that an ongoing thing? Or was it just one experience or

Grey Jacks  29:41  
I attended that church a couple of times before he left Minneapolis and moved here to where I live in Washington, DC. I never had that same experience again. Of so perhaps that well wasn't very deep for me. Perhaps I I probably assessed some aspects of it, but there was still a really tender route that needed to be cleared. I'm not sure. But yeah, my subsequent visits to that church and time I spent with that community. It did feel it did feel comfortable. And, you know, almost like how it was when I grew up. Having that community again, I was very lucky that growing up in an evangelical community, it was before evangelicalism was fundamentalism, right? So, and I was also very lucky that the way that my my my parents, basically, my mother, viewed, you know, spirituality was it's about, for her, it was really about your relationship. It's about your relationship with your idea of God. It's not about you having a ruler to measure anyone else against. So for her, I would just watch her as an example, she would get up in the morning, and she would have just her time to read by herself reading her Bible. And it's just a form of meditation. It's a form of reflection, it's a form of exploring teachings. But it was all about developing herself, as in her spiritual life, and not about needing to have something to look good for someone else. You know,

Coach Maddox  31:22  
I love that I have a woman in our community that I lead of women, and we she is makes references to God and Jesus in the Bible. So I know there was some real religious affiliation there. And I made some comment one day or asked her about it, and she her response, and I just absolutely love this. She said, for me, it's less about religion and more about relationship. That's it. And she was referring to a relationship with God and Jesus and one on one, I thought, you know, what, what a beautiful way of wording that. So tell me, where? What does that aspect of your life, the spiritual aspect of your life? What does it look like today? You moved away from that city, and you're not part of your husband's church home? What does it look like today?

Grey Jacks  32:19  
I mean, I think for me, it's, it's, I found it in meditation and yoga practices. But I will attend churches with my friends, I really love to, to be in those spaces. Because it's such a part of my, of my past, and especially when they're welcoming spaces. But I really, I really haven't felt the calling to be a part of that type of community. Of late, but I'm always open to it. If I found the right space. You know, the churches I was visiting in Minneapolis, my husband sang in the choir there for 18 years. And so that was a very big piece of what, what was special for him about that community was being able to be a part of a of a big choir with an incredible director. But But no, I think I think for me, it really, my spiritual spaces, it's personal. But it's also it's, it's within the one on one interactions that I have with people. Right? It's about that vulnerability, the authenticity, the the ability to be a teacher to someone else, the ability to be a mentor, and a guide. I think all those has very spiritual components.

Coach Maddox  33:42  
They do and I agree completely, you know, I did it solo for a long time, because it was so hard to find other people that really were on that spiritual path. But in the last few years, I've drawn now that I really think about it, quite a lovely group of people, to me that are involved in some type of spiritual practice, and we can speak the same language and so it's not as much of a solo thing is at once wise. Conversations and, and my spiritual life are intertwined in most of my interactions with most of the people in my life on a daily basis.

Grey Jacks  34:25  
That's beautiful.

Coach Maddox  34:27  
And at the same time, you know, I was I wasn't looking for a spiritual community. I wasn't looking for a church. But I've I've recently started dating someone that's active in this Unitarian Church and just asked me, Would I be open to attending with him? And it was so lovely, the way he presented the invitation, what I'd be open to attending with him. And I thought, yeah, I think I would, you know, and so I haven't actually been to service yet, but I did make eat a whole bunch of his friends. And I don't know, you know, I'm I'm open to the possibility that I may be on the verge of finding a church home. I just I won't know until I get there. But there's this intuitive thing that saying, yeah, something kind of feels like it's brewing here. And I'm, I'm open, and maybe even a little bit excited.

Grey Jacks  35:26  
Well, that's, that's a great, great feeling to have that excitement. But we never know until we go out and find out, right, we have to, we have to show up,

Coach Maddox  35:36  
we did a show with a venture out, we had to get out of our

Grey Jacks  35:39  
comfort zone. This came to mind, you know, I have three sisters, and one of them. The oldest one is married to a pastor, I put in the Presbyterian Church. And I think part of my healing journey also was being able to even go hear him preach. I mean, he's someone that I love dearly, but to go into his church, to sit down and to hear him preach, it took me a while to get there intellectually, and kind of, again, working through my, these these walls that I had thrown up. And I was just remember that moment of sitting in in his space, and just really being so proud of him. Because he's such a loving, He's coming at it from the right. Direction, right. And, you know, so again, it's about having to put yourself out in spaces where and try things that you think you might not be able to navigate. But I knew that I was ready, I knew that I was ready to take that step. And that I could, I could sit sit in that space, and not be heavily activated. But it's again, it's been a been it's been a rebuilding process. Yes.

Coach Maddox  36:49  
Absolutely. It's like putting your toes back in the water. It's it's the whole shark thing. Right? Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. So I'm wondering, when we reflect back on how the conversation started the the internalized homophobia that was the biggest challenge. What wisdom balm or bombs do you have for those men that might be living that right now, they might be in broiled in that internal internalized homophobia, and they they need some guidance or some wisdom that might help them emerge in the manner that you have emerged.

Grey Jacks  37:46  
You know, I would say that, first of all, to these to these people, I would say no one can tell you who you are. Only you can tell us who you are. And so when you're ready for us to meet you were ready. And here. You know, I think one of the hardest things for me as I was coming out was if people would assume that I was gay. Right? What that would do to kind of push me back further from being able to come out. I think if we don't have assumptions about who someone is about their sexuality, we don't know until they tell us, right? That's really it. So having that open arms aspect of when you're ready to tell us, we're ready to hear you.

Coach Maddox  38:34  
Absolutely. I was I was having a conversation. It was a podcast episode a group thing that I was doing last night, and the gentleman didn't come out until he was 52, I believe. And he said that he had this huge list of fears of all the bad things that were going to happen when he finally said out loud, you know, I'm gay. Yes. And he said, When he finally I mean, he had been carrying this for his whole life, so much fear about all the things that he believed would happen. But he said when he finally said those words, none of that scary stuff happened. None of it. That's right. Did His life change? Yes. Did he lose a whole bunch of people that he thought were his friends, but I mean, come on. They only knew the facade that he was putting forth. They didn't really know him. So did he really lose friends? No. Right. And he and he acknowledged that he said, you know, yes, a lot of people went away. Were those the people that I really needed to be in my life? No,

Grey Jacks  39:49  
they weren't. Right. When coming out, doesn't change anything, but it starts to free us, but it requires us to still have a lot of patience for ourselves patient As for ourselves, maybe we have to have some patience for some people around us. And whether you come out at 15, or you come in at 55, you know, you're still going to have to go through a period of time of basically your teenage years, right? Because if you are not out as a teenager, you didn't have the ability to go out and date people make mistakes, screw things up, try everything else out. So you come out at 55 years of age, you're gonna have to go through that period of time, it may take five years, may take 10 years, but we have to go through our teenage growth. We do as newly out gay people,

Coach Maddox  40:37  
you know, I think you're spot on, I have realized, I have this thing where I like to watch coming of age TV shows straight gay doesn't matter. I love coming of age stories. And I watched enough of them that recently, you know, I'm okay, I'm in my mid 60s. And I'm like, why are you watching coming about stories coming, coming, coming of age not coming up coming of age stories. And it dawned on me,

Grey Jacks  41:04  
I didn't get to have that growing up. That's right.

Coach Maddox  41:07  
I didn't have a coming of age story. I just missed that part. Because I was so deeply hidden in the closet. And it's like getting to live vicariously through these characters in these movies and sitcoms and stories that I watch. It's it's literally living. vicariously tell me what you think about this. But I, in all my interviews, in my conversations, it is my perception that the longer we wait to come out, and the older we get, the harder it is.

Grey Jacks  41:48  
The harder it is, in which aspects would you would you say? Well, you

Coach Maddox  41:52  
know, for one thing, you know, if we don't come out till we're 55, we're pretty set in our ways. You know, when you when you come out at 20, or 25, you're not so set in your ways. With each year, we become more entrenched in the way we think the way we behave the way everything. And I think too, that the longer we wait, the more we build it up in our mind. We just it gets it's like putting a piece of steak in our mouth that has gristle in the steak. Yes. And we're chewing on that gristle, and the the more we chew it, the bigger it gets.

Unknown Speaker  42:31  

Coach Maddox  42:33  
I think that exactly applies. That's my metaphor for the longer you wait to come out the the bigger deal, it becomes.

Grey Jacks  42:44  
And to your point, I have a dear friend who's who's 70 years old. And he has never been able to say that he is a gay man. He's in a relationship with a man. He has a huge friend group well know who he is. But he's still hiding from his own family. And at this point, it's only he only has one sibling that he's hiding from the rest of his family has passed on. Recent last weekend, his partner was just sort of secretly invited his brother to come visit him and see his community and see what was there didn't tell my friend that his brother was coming, right because he probably would have tried to resist go back into hiding. They came through this weekend, the brother leaves they have a wonderful time the brother leaves. And my friend says he just feels this huge sense of relief. He's 70 years old. He's been hiding this his whole life. And we've been talking to him for 10 years about how to get out from underneath this. But here he hasn't 70 He's finally come through. And he's just sort of laughing to himself like he says I guess you guys were right.

Coach Maddox  43:51  
I mean, look at how long he carried that burden. And that no heavy burden like that has a cost because of cost. Yeah, it's a cost.

Grey Jacks  44:01  
And he was the day after his brother left was dancing. My friend was dancing and just he was feeling lighter than air.

Coach Maddox  44:08  
I you know, I have had some men that are considerably older than I am have been guests on the podcast where they have laid a burden down. They've shared some secret that they've never told anyone on the podcast for the whole world to hear. I had one man come back to me and he said I've spent my entire life looking over my shoulder so afraid that son was going to discover find or learn this about me. Wow. And I no longer looking over my shoulder. He said I can't. He's 70 said I can't tell you how much this is. freed me. How liberated I feel. still amazing. But we do it longer week. carry it, yes, the worse it gets, we just hope that it will you know, we mama used to say we make a molehill into a mountain

Grey Jacks  45:09  
100% And the people in our lives that aren't able to, to accept us initially, right? You give some patients you have a little bit of grace. But at the end of the day, if time marches on, and they're still in that place, I'm a very big believer that it's a privilege to be in someone's life. It's not your right to be exactly that they need to exercise that privilege. So be it. Love yourself enough to keep people around you who recognize that it's a privilege for them to be there.

Coach Maddox  45:41  
i Yes, I agree completely. And I'm a firm believer that the people that matter don't care and the people that care don't matter. Amen. Yes. So I love everything you've shared. And thank you so much for the wisdom that you have imparted on not only me, but on all the listeners that may be struggling with that internalized homophobia. How would you feel about moving into some rapid fire questions?

Grey Jacks  46:09  
Let's fire.

Coach Maddox  46:11  
Let's fire. Okay. If you could go back in time to any time in your life, and I want to know which time you pick. And you could say anything you want to say to young gray? What would you tell him? How old would he be? And what would you tell me?

Grey Jacks  46:35  
How old would I be? Hmm. You know, my mind just goes to my like, early 20s When I was kind of struggling to come out. And she's also struggling as an artist to sort of love who I was loved my process, love how I created, I was doing so much comparing myself to other people, so much comparing and it really brought a lot of unhappiness. So I would probably go to that person at 20 to 21. And just just hold him and tell him to love who he is. Love the beautiful uniqueness of what he can do. And it is absolutely pointless to compare yourself to anyone. Because there's no one like you.

Coach Maddox  47:26  
Wow, beautiful. I love that. Love, love love than that. Alright, so many years from now, you're a ghost at your own funeral. And all of your gay contemporaries are there at your funeral. You're rising up at the top of the room the way we do when we leave our body and you're looking down on all this. And all all of your besties are there. What do you hope that they say about you?

Grey Jacks  47:59  
I mean, I know what they're gonna say about me. That I was exactly who I who I seemed to be. That I was someone who always showed up for them had their back loved him as who they were. I think my my friend group has said they've never met anyone like me. That's probably what they would say.

Coach Maddox  48:24  
I could, I could say all of that. I definitely experienced you, just as you just described. Okay, final question. I love that final question. What matters to you most? And why?

Grey Jacks  48:45  
Truth. Above all, matters to me most. I want to hear I want to hear it direct. I love honesty. I hate when people sugarcoat things and try and spare someone's emotions or my emotions. Yeah, just I just love straightforward, kind and generous. But, you know, I think when you're when you're telling the truth to someone, you're it's a form of taking care of them also. It's a form of respect. So yeah, that's what I agree.

Coach Maddox  49:22  
Completely Beautiful. Well, Mr. Gray, this has been awesome.

Grey Jacks  49:30  
Thank you so much Maddox for inviting me to become be on your beautiful podcast. Thank you for spreading the message that you're spreading you are a you're absolutely a figure that so many people can listen to and look up to as an example of what it means to be your authentic self.

Coach Maddox  49:49  
Thank you for that I am receiving that. Thank you for that and thank you for the beautiful contribution that you have made to the podcast and all the listeners today and me as well. It's my pleasure

Transcribed by

Grey JacksProfile Photo

Grey Jacks

Creative Coach and Teaching Artist

Grey Jacks grew up being home schooled in an evangelical community outside Dallas, Texas. Secretly gay, he learned to hide in plain sight, performing masculinity for his church, his siblings and his friends, eventually finding acceptance, coming out at 25 in 2001.

Early on Grey found solace in playing music and at 15 began seeking validation by performing on stage. He eventually moved to Nashville and acquired a degree in music business and today he is an award winning songwriter and professional recording artist. He is also a professional life coach and teaching artist who is currently working with musicians as 6 years old and coaching artists and professionals into their 80's.

His most recent record, D8 UR Elders, took 3 difficult years to produce and its release was halted by the pandemic. The title focuses on our need to build more intergenerational bridges in our lives and the album is extremely personal. The second track, ‘Providence’, tells the story of Grey’s meeting, falling for and marrying his now husband, a 1950’s baby boomer named David.

Grey’s recent debates about whether to remain an onstage performing artist have been at the front of his mind after a recent tour and despite grant funding successes.