It's always good when you catch a star on its rise, and Hunter Harden is a great example of that. Hunter has become one of the most in demand models in the gay community, where his killer physique and gorgeous face has graced many designers including Marek & Richard, Mack Sturgis, Fort Troff and many more and has brought him to over 60,000 followers on his Instagram.
As hot as he is, there is much more to Harden than meets the eye. The South Carolina resident has dealt with a lifetime of pain, both physical and emotional, some of which he is still dealing with today. On the bright side, he is consistently an upbeat person who strives to do his best in life and make a mark both in and out of the gay community.
Hunter sat down with me at Instinct to discuss why he got into the modeling world, his past and present battles with depression and migraines, his future goals, and his love of bacon and daddies. Take a look.
What got you into this crazy world of modeling in the first place?
I had horrible social anxiety and I was terrified to do anything on my own. I immersed myself in the world of America's Next Top Model at the time and I thought it would be so cool to travel and have such confidence in myself and meet new people. But back then I was a recluse and I suffered from depression. I figured modeling would be the perfect way to expand my horizons and it was something I was passionate about and could do on my own. I started messaging local photographers and asked if I could be a part of any work they were doing. I had some very creative and fun shoots that helped build my self-esteem. I started taking the bus to San Francisco by myself and it was terrifying, but it ended up giving me some truly amazing experiences. I met some great people and eventually I was put in contact with Mr. S Leather and started modeling for them. That was almost 7 years ago. Since then I've shot with some of the most eclectic and diverse photographers and the list keeps growing. I'm very humbled and grateful for the experiences I've had and the wonderful people I've met. I never thought that my way of processing through my fears would turn into this!
You are also in seriously good shape, has fitness always been something in your life?
I used to be so scrawny and skinny. I always wanted to be one of those big muscle bears I admired ever since I can remember. I started working out off and on throughout high school, but I did not get serious about it until 2009. Since then my gym life has evolved and grown so much! I change up workouts and rhythms all the time at the gym to keep it interesting. It helps when you have a good gym partner who will push you as well even when you don't feel like pushing yourself. Eating is a large part of fitness and that's my biggest struggle. I love food that's bad for you!
What's been your favorite part on this fun ride of yours in your expanding presence in the gay community?
I've never had a lot of faith in myself or self-confidence, but I've met a lot of people who admire me much like I appreciated models in the gay community years ago. Connecting with them and offering any advice that I can to help them has really given me more faith in myself. Plus, it's cool to get recognized at events! It still blows me away when I meet people that I respect and they know me and are so kind to me. I also believe that there are too many cliques in the community in general and I love meeting and talking to all kinds of different people.
You also have spoken out about your issue with migraines, can you tell us a little more about that?
I've been struggling with cluster migraines since I was 8 years old. When I was younger they were not as frequent. Maybe 1 to 3 a week. As I've gotten older, however, the stresses that come with life and being an adult have aggravated my condition so much more. It is not uncommon now for me to get 3-7 migraines a week. I've been receiving treatment for over 20 years. Countless doctors, endless tests and medications have been thrown at me all of my life. I've been put on every diet, tried every avenue beyond medications such as holistic medicine, oxygen therapy, massage, acupuncture, meditation, hypnotherapy, etc. and the list goes on and on. My team of doctors in Reno had me on Botox for a year and it never worked. I had exhausted every FDA regulated treatment. The only thing that worked for me was Sumatriptan injections. The downside to the medication is that I have to take it too much and the side effects are susceptibility to brain aneurysms or strokes and other permanent damage.
I was trying to hold down a job, and even went to school for graphic design because I wanted a career for myself. I was let go from numerous jobs due to my migraines. I got an entry level position at a clothing company, working my way up to their graphic design department. My migraines impeded my progress and the company told me I was not dependable and therefore would not be considered for promotion. Rather than fire me they graciously put me back in the warehouse folding shirts. It made me feel so small and insignificant.
Then I moved to South Carolina almost 4 years ago and since then I've been turned away from two physical practitioners and two neurologists who refused to give me my medications. The neurologists would not even see me. I tried to get medical insurance and prescription coverage but to no avail. Then the day my boyfriend was admitted to the hospital where I was employed with blood clots they fired me. It was horrible, and I lost all hope. I was told years ago by my previous doctors I should apply for disability. I put out a plea on Facebook about my situation and a doctor in California is now writing me a prescription for my medications. Obamacare was amazing to have and was affordable, but once Trump was elected president my insurance went up from $90 a month to over $600 a month.
Has there been any progress in your battle against them?
It’s been almost two years since I've applied for disability and I still have another year or so to wait for my court date to decide if I'm eligible. I'm currently being seen at the Free Clinic and I have been waiting since February of 2017 to see a neurologist. It’s been a struggle trying to survive but my good friend started a GoFundMe Page to help me through this rough patch in my life and it has really shown me how many people out there care about me and want to help. It’s been overwhelming.
Outside of your modeling, do you have any career goals in entertainment?
I do. I've always wanted to be an actor so I'm going to try and give it a shot soon. I also have a podcast that I'm hoping to get off the ground in the near future that will cover everything and anything in pop culture from music, fashion, celebrities, art, travel, and all things happening in my world.
Some of my other goals are to walk in New York Fashion Week, be a bartender on Watch What Happens Live, be in a drag queen’s music video, and be on some sort of reality tv show. It would have to be something fun like a party house, I could not do a survival show (insert Troop Beverly Hills quote).
On a side note, what kinds of guys do you generally crush on?
Well, I really have a thing for daddies. I am the quintessential "boy with daddy issues". I like a man who is masculine but does not take himself too seriously and is not afraid to queen the fuck out. Just someone who is genuinely themselves. A rugged looking man in tighty whities, salt and pepper beards, muscle with a nice round belly, fur, tall and burly chests I can rest my head on will get you noticed, but at the end of the day someone who is kind, funny, and genuine is the person who will steal my heart. In the end I just want a guy who makes me feel safe and loved.
Do you also have a favorite cheat meal when you really want to indulge?
GERMAN POTATO SALAD AND BACON WRAPPED PORK CHOPS WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS. Potato chips are the devil and I can't resist them. I can eat a family size bag in one sitting!
Anything else you would like to add?
I have started creating clothes, t-shirts, harnesses, sunglasses, and other things so I'd really like to create a brand for myself delving into everything that I am passionate about.
For more information on Hunter Harden, check out his official Instagram here.