A young radio host who was simply told to ‘stop being gay’ is now using his airtime to help others struggling with their sexuality.
Josef Hollywood recently shared a stat on his Instagram story about AIDS awareness ahead of National HIV Testing Week. Much to his disgust, a follower responded to the photo by telling the 21-year-old to “stop being gay”.
The follower, however, didn’t stop there, they then told Josef they disagreed with a photo he uploaded of him and his boyfriend.
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Sadly, it wasn’t unique as the young entrepreneur says there were several homophobic comments on his post.
Now Josef, from the Wirral, uses his time on In Demand’s Breakfast to tell his listeners that things are looking up.
He told ECHO: “I knew I was gay when I was seven or eight. Then I came out when I was 14 or 15. My friends and family were very supportive and allowed me to grow up in an inclusive environment.
“In February 2021, I started speaking publicly about my sexuality; to give others who may be struggling reassurance and confidence that they will be fine.
Former high school student Chester Christleton explained that rather than drawing attention to his sexuality, he chooses to talk about it the same way heterosexual couples would in a bid to normalize the topic.
He added: “Initially I felt like I had to pretend to be someone I wasn’t, it was like I had another character. I just had to find the confidence to be myself.
“Now I talk about it openly in natural conversation; places my boyfriend and I have been, and things we’ve done, just the same way I would if I had a girlfriend. I think it’s about normalizing the conversation.
Josef currently co-hosts “The Brekky Butler” on In Demand Radio alongside DJ Lee Butler, who has seen him interview artists like Years and Years, Anne-Marie, MNEK.
When he’s not entertaining listeners on the way to work, Josef runs his own media company, Ocula Media, specializing in digital marketing.
He recalls having had a passion for business since he was 12, working as a DJ at parties and private events.
Josef said: “From a young age I always wanted to excel in all aspects of my life, but as a young member of the LGBT+ community, I felt I had to work harder and overcome the challenges. obstacles both in my business and personal life.”
As a teenager, Josef says he had difficulty identifying within the community due to the occasional homophobia he heard on a daily basis.
He added: “Before I personally accepted who I am, I used to hear words inside and outside of school and it pushed me further into the ‘closet. “and even though I never hid my sexuality, I worried about what other people would think.”
The radio host wanted to prove to others that “being yourself makes no difference in your work ethic”.
So when he won the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award at the North West LGBTQ+ Business Awards last October, it was a moment of realization that all his hard work had paid off.
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