What would this world be like if Will & Grace never existed? I won’t even dare to think about it. Aside from its significance to pop culture, the show has helped so many members of the LGBTQ+ community, in many ways. Brandon Hines being one of them. Hines grew up in a very remote town who felt like he was forced into the closet and knew that staying in his hometown would not only stifle his growth, but his happiness as well. He recently shared his story and praise for the show with ImFromDriftwood.com.
Hines grew up in a trailer in Dublin, Georgia. Since he was 10, he says that he was a very masculine boy who was heavy into sports — a traditional jock like boy. He had a cousin that was feminine acting and would play with dolls, instead of participating in activities that the “traditional” boys would do. Hanging out with the girls and gossiping. Chyle, haven’t we all. Hines’ older family members would scold that feminine cousin and suggest he go act like a normal boy. Hines says that they would ask the cousin, “Why don’t you act like Brandon? He likes sports. He’s into shoes. He hangs out with the boys. He’s tough, never cries.” Not even realizing the trauma that they’re inflicting on those children. For Brandon, hearing his family ridicule his cousin made him fear for himself. He knew that deep down he was very similar to his cousin, but judgment from others pushed him into the closet and that being gay wasn’t “normal” and accepted.
Hines says that the way society, his family and friends viewed homosexuality forced him into a box. He wanted to present himself as masculine and straight, instead of feminine and gay. He felt like he was cursed, because of his inner thoughts and conflict with being gay and closeted — but also because he never saw any other gay people, gay and happy people at that. That is until he saw an episode of Will & Grace one day while visiting his Uncle Jimmy’s apartment.
Hines and his family would often visit his uncle’s house, typically during rainstorms as the trailer that they lived in was susceptible to heavy damage. So while visiting his uncle’s apartment, he snuck off into a bedroom to watch TV. While his family always assumed he was watching sports, Hines had actually stumbled upon the show and it caught his interest. The moment Will & Grace appeared on the screen, Hines said that he knew they were gay. “These are my people,” was his immediate thought. While he admits that he felt guilty for watching it and he had to sneak to do so, Hines felt happy while tuning in and the feeling the show gave him made him feel “reborn again.” Will & Grace gave the young closeted, small town boy hope.
“The feeling that came over me was just like I had just been reborn again. And it just shedded light that I could actually be happy and have friends and have a solid life, have a house, have a nice job and all of that, and still be gay.”
From that point, Brandon would find any and every excuse to head over to his uncle’s apartment just to steal a moment of joy, to watch Will & Grace. It was almost a necessity, considering he says the show saved his life.
“Not to be dramatic or anything like that, but I think that show almost saved my life in a sense, just because it gave me that hope in that… I may not be happy now, I may not be comfortable with who I am now, but I know one day I will be. That also put a fire behind me, knowing that I had to get away. So I knew I was going to be happy, but I knew I probably wasn’t going to be happy living there.”
Will & Grace not only gave Brandon hope, but it helped to shape his future. He knew that once he went off to college, he would never return back to Dublin, Georgia. For him, he wouldn’t be able to live a full, gay and happy life there. “Making it” was very important to him, so that helped him to stay focused in school, to ensure that he’d graduate and secure a job post graduation. He eventually grew confident enough to come out to his sister, as he wanted to begin living his full truth and “transitioning to happiness.”
Hines graduated with a degree in marketing and landed in Austin, Texas. A big part of the reason why he decided on Austin? Gay flag football. He knew that gay sports and joining a league would help him to acclimate to his new life. He found community there. He always felt like being a minority, gay and living in a small town — that the world was against him. But with hard work, focus and a few episodes of Will & Grace — anything is possible.
Interestingly enough, Will & Grace (personally) helped me to come out as well. I had a very similar experience to Brandon and I too found solace and comfort in watching the show. I was in the closet until I was 20. After my best friend and his father, who is a pastor, realized that I was watching the show incessantly — they began questioning my sexuality amongst themselves. Eventually, they confronted me and asked if I was gay and by that point, I was so tired of living a gay discreet life. Sneaky links and running off to gay bars praying that I wouldn’t bump into anyone I knew — I just confessed that I was in fact a homo. And I’ve been loud and proud ever since.
So I guess both Hines and I owe a lot to the Emmy winning, groundbreaking show. Check out Brandon Hines on his Instagram and check out the video below of Brandon sharing his story.
Source: I’m From Driftwood