Jacob, in his own words: “I see (being gay) as an exciting challenge that makes life that much more interesting.
Being born gay to a farming family in the rural areas of South Carolina was horrible. I hated life, myself and most of the people around me including my father. It wasn’t until I moved to Tennessee and came out that I found love in my heart for that man.
My successes? Finally when I was around 27, I found self worth. I had auditioned for a singing job (which was why I moved to TN) and I got the job! It would end up being the best (nearly) 10 years of my life up to that point. At the same time I started a small multimedia business which also became successful.
Today I no longer sing (I do miss it). Instead I run my business which I’m extremely proud of. We have many wonderful clients but the one that brings me the most joy is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. It’s a program that Dolly started that gives kids free books all across America, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
So, each month when nearly 3/4 million kids get their free book, I’m filled with joy knowing my little company had a hand in that.
My dad would have been so proud of that and my former singing job but sadly he never knew. He died before I got a chance to tell him I loved him and before I had any real success. As a matter of fact, when I was home for his funeral, I found out that I got the singing job.
(With regards to the gay community in Sevierville) Ha! What gay community? No really, we have our close network of gay and straight friends but there’s no “gay scene” here like it is in Knoxville or Nashville.
(Advice I’d give my younger self) There’s a kid in Bristol that you need to meet as soon as possible. His name is Sam. Go find him and never let him go.
Sam, in his own words: “Being gay is just a part of me. It took a few years after high school to be comfortable enough with myself to tell anyone. The first person I told was my boss, who is still a really good friend. Telling my family was a little more difficult but after the initial conversation my family accepted it and still loved me like they always did. Coming out is a life long process because you’re always meeting new people. Our society has changed a lot in the 14 years since high school because back then I didn’t know anyone openly gay in school and now it’s commonplace to be out. I sometimes feel like I lost all the fun times in my teenage years because I wasn’t the real me. All the decisions I made and paths that I took led me to one spectacular man that I’ve shared my life with for the past 10 years and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”