EXCLUSIVE: Alex Newell On His ‘Dramatic’ & ‘Scary’ Coming Out Story

Credit: Alex Newell

We fell in love with Alex Newell almost ten years ago when he made his amazing debut on The Glee Project. It’s been a sky’s the limit kind of thing for him ever since as he’s dominated many parts of the entertainment industry from music to television and so much more. And yes, we were totally living for his comedic abilities during his appearance on RuPaul’s Celebrity Drag Race earlier this year. 

Now the 28-year-old is making us proud all over again with a new initiative that is near & dear to his heart.

He & Diet Coke are coming together as they recognize each unique “coming out” story and the challenges faced along the way. Alex himself identifies as a gender non-conforming male and continues to shatter stereotypes and gender norms while using his voice to help inspire those still trying to find their own. 

For many, especially Black LGTBQIA+ youth, coming out can be even harder as they reconcile multiple and intersecting identities, on top of the biggest challenge of coming out to their families. According to the HRC’s 2019 Black and African American LGBTQ Youth Report, only 19% of Black LGBTQIA+ youth say they can “definitely” be themselves at home.

To specifically address the challenges Black LGBTQ+ youth face in coming out, Diet Coke is partnering with The Trevor Project to help them improve the mental health and well-being of Black LGBTQ+ youth through research, public education, advocacy, and their 24/7 crisis services, with a continued commitment to better understanding and addressing their unique needs.

Alex spoke to Instinct Magazine EXCLUSIVELY about the initiative, his own “dramatic” coming out story and what’s next for this super talented individual.

Credit: Alex Newell

What made you want to partner with Diet Coke for this fabulous initiative?

I partnered with Diet Coke back in June for National Pride Month, and I’m proud to partner with them again for National Coming Out Day. They have supported LGBTQ+ communities in the past and it’s so important to keep raising awareness. Together we’re advocating for a culture in which every LGBTQ+ person, especially Black LGBTQ+ members of the community – feel safe and supported. 

Our hope is to open the door for conversations to celebrate those who have already come out of the closet – as well as those still trying to find their way. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by love and support on my journey – but know many others might feel alone and think there aren’t resources out there for them.

For those who are unaware, what was your coming out experience like and what kind of impact has it made on you all this time later?

My coming out experience was dramatic for me just like wearing a sandwich board in Universal City Walk that said the word GAY on it on television is a lot. Coming out to my mom was scary because you hear stories of other people’s parents kicking them out and disowning them and you don’t know what the reaction will be. My mother’s reaction is the reaction I wish for everyone coming out! She said I was her only child and she would love me not matter what. I took it for granted then but now I appreciate that I was able to grow in a house where I was able to live as my 100% authentic self! 

Black LGBTQ youth, and LGBTQ youth in general, are going through a very difficult time as thousands of them are currently homeless. What can we, as a community, do to minimize those numbers? 

For many Black LGBTQ+ youth, the stressors and inequalities they experience coming out are compounded by the intersectionality of their race, gender and sexuality on top of the biggest challenge of coming out to their families. I came across statistics from HRC that stated 59% of Black and African American LGBTQ youth surveyed say their families make them feel bad because of their LGBTQ identity and 77% have heard family members say negative things about LGBTQ people.  LGBTQ youth usually face homelessness after fleeing abuse and lack of acceptance at home. We need our allies now more than ever to make spaces for these youth! And there has to be mental space for them to feel that they belong and are accepted. It’s putting your words into action not just saying that you support but actually supporting and reaching out and talking and educating yourself on things that you personally might not understand or have been through! 

Credit: Alex Newell

What are your thoughts on people who are black & identify as LGBTQ being recognized in the media? Have we made improvements and where are we still lacking overall?

We have made giant steps but we can go further. There is not room for Black LGBTQ+ characters to just be secondary characters we deserve to be leads and have all of our stories told not just lifting up the story that we’ve told time and time again! 

What is in stores for Alex Newell fans in the upcoming months?

I’m currently filming for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist so stay tuned for updates on when season 2 will be premiering! Also I’ve been working on so much new music I can’t wait to share!