If Idris Elba had a younger gay brother who looked similarly like him, then Michael Wright would be your guy. The part-time model and business owner has become a huge social media influencer on his Facebook and Instagram which amounts for more than 10,000 followers total who enjoy seeing this gorgeous man both in and out of clothes.
Michael, who lives in Philadelphia by ways of South Carolina, hasn't always had it easy in his journey before and during the gay community. He grew up poor in the south, where racism was very prevalent for him and dealt with issues at home as well.
Regardless, Michael was able to prevail, come out of the closet and be his authentic self as time has gone by. With the modeling and business world on his horizon, he sat down with me here at Instinct to discuss how he became so popular on social media, his tough childhood, why he loves being in the bear community and what's next for him. Take a look.
How were you able to develop such a big social media following?
Back in 2008 I started on Facebook. I did some modeling before I got on the social media platform. The pictures came out great and I thought the site would be a tool to show them off. Plus, living in Fort Lauderdale at that time, which is a huge gay destination, I was able to meet a lot of people on there and connect with them. I kept posting the pictures that i took with the photographers and got a lot of attention from tons of people. I'm not perfect, we all have flaws, but I like to think I’m charming with a good-humored personality that draws people to me.
Do you plan on doing anything with that like going into modeling or acting?
I will love to act or get a big movie role. I would love to start my modeling career back up because in the years since I had some personal life situations that shifted my focus a bit. Now things are coming together for me and I can put myself out there again to get some gigs.
What has been your experience in the gay community down in South Carolina?
Being gay in South Carolina was tough. Growing up I knew I was gay. I have 4 brothers and 2 sisters, where all of my brothers happened to be straight, so it was challenging. I had to pretend I liked girls throughout high school. When I went to college was when I started to experience gay-related activities. I was still covering up there as well, so the gay life at that time was pretty much closeted.
On the plus side, things are getting much better there, as the state is slowly becoming more open to the LGBTQ community.
Is racism still a big thing not only there, but in general?
Racism is still a big problem there, well everywhere but definitely more so in the south. I grew up poor so living in the projects my brothers and I had to fight while also dealing with our parents constantly fight. My father was very verbally and physically abusive to my mother. That being said, my parents decided it was enough living in the projects, so we moved to the suburbs where it was predominantly white. This was back in 1987.
That is when I really felt the hate. I thought we didn't have to fight anymore but that was false. We were the first black family that moved into the neighborhood and they wanted us out. It got to the point someone spray painted the N-word on my father's truck. The cops called on us a lot because we used to defend ourselves. We walked to school together and back home together. As we aged things seem to calm down and most of the kids we used to fight are great friends now. At the end of it, we felt like winners because we stood strong against hate and won. We weren’t scared then and they saw that.
What are your thoughts of the bear community today seeing as you are such an integral part of it?
My thoughts on the bear community is that as time has gone by, I found that the group overall has been accepting of not only me, but many others like me. The community as a whole is a group of really nice guys who are accepting of all different races. I have immersed myself in this world and love going to the events, and even get called names like “muscle bear” or “cub” which is fine with me.
I know you are an owner of an adult day care center, which is awesome. Has this type of work always been your passion?
My mom started an assisting living home in 1991. I grew up in the industry taking care of people at a very young age. It made me think how most of us are very fortunate in this world. I was really hot and cold about this type of work. I went to college and got my BA in Graphic Arts, because I had a love for arts and photography. Now they are hobbies and my sister, brother and I decided to start an adult care center since we already knew how run a business.
There’s been many road blocks into getting it open. I tell friends it’s going to open at such and such and then it doesn’t. It made me feel embarrassed, but I (we) are learning as we go. We are young and starting up our own company with our own money, which has been very stressful, but the wait has been a blessing. Yes, it has been a passion because I love people but also because I know how hard of a life they grew up in.
I also have a T-shirt business called BeardedIkon, which is slowly take off i will get going, also a nutrition diet program that I am going to promote very soon.
What's next for Michael Wright?
What's next for Michael Wright is to change the world. I want to be a nominee for CNN heroes someday, fingers crossed. I believe my business is going to become very successful because I already have building owners calling me to start others up around the community. Hopefully we can take our idea into other states, which I would love to do to make a difference in people lives there and turn the locations into franchises. I have goals and I will reach them. The Hudson Yards in New York City is calling my name next year, which is where I will hopefully be.
For more information on Michael, check out his IG here.