What an honor to interview fashion designer, YouTuber, makeup lover and reality TV personality Matt Sarafa this week. Matt describes his love of fashion that was sparked at age 7 watching Project Runway. During the interview he reports his “guilty pleasure” being reality television. Guess what? His passion for fashion and the path he paved for himself landed him on the Lifetime reality show Project Runway Junior! He described making friends with the other contestants that share his love for fashion as a gift that he will cherish lifelong. It gets even more exciting for Matt… Kelly Osborne rocked his ‘Hot Mess’ jacket on Instagram and again on a Cosmopolitan video during this exciting launch of his fashion career. His ‘Hot Mess’ clothing line will be out end of summer/early autumn 2016 just as he starts as a freshman at UCLA!
“Once I discovered fashion I became less anxious. I have always been an anxious person,” Matt described during his interview. He reports his anxiety vanishing once he was aligned with his pursuit of a career in fashion coupled with coming out as a gay male to his family. He reports spending many years,”caring about what other people thought of me.” “It really does not matter what other people think of you. It really does not matter,” Matt stated with conviction.
We talked about the importance of self -love and being your own best friend.
Matt was grateful to have such loving friends and family during his coming out process. “I wish I would have done it sooner. I have 100’s of teens reaching out to me on social media about their fears about coming out as gay, bisexual, or transgender.” His advice on coming out, “Do it when you are ready.” Matt discussed the strong influence of social media with his generation. His tips are: be kind, be authentic and be positive with this powerful medium.
Matt and I discussed his strong desire to continue to be a role model and to be of service, “I am addicted to giving back.” His mother was a social worker at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles before Matt was born and a yearly Sarafa family tradition is to adopt a family in need at the hospital during the holidays. Matt is setting the intention to carry the spirit of service throughout his life and has set hopes with the success of his fashion career that he can give to charities that support HIV research and to charities that raise awareness and support the LGBT community.
Professionally as a psychiatrist and personally as a trusted friend, I have had the privilege of being a listening ear when people are experiencing fear or anxiety about self-expression of sexuality or gender identity. While I was in residency at Emory University I was fortunate to be asked by my gay colleagues to be a co-therapist of a gay and lesbian group in which young adults were at different phases of self acceptance with their sexuality and their coming out process. I felt honored to have been chosen to have this experience and as a doctor I found it invaluable for my work as a mental health professional.
“Love is love,” was the biggest take home point I learned.
As a child psychiatrist I have had teens struggle with their sexual and gender identity and parents who feared for their children if it was true that they were gay. One Mom in my practice was labeled by her son as the “trophy Mom” as she had handled her son’s coming out process with flying colors. He did not know that she had sought out therapy with me and attended an LGBT parent group before he had formally told her. Being open, loving and accepting is crucial for the best support of yourself and your loved one.
Here are some tips that I have found helpful throughout the years:
-Do not force or rush your (or your loved one’s) self discovery of sexual preference or gender identity. It is a very personal process.
-Confiding in a trusted friend, or loved one is invaluable.
-Seek out therapy as you feel necessary as there are many feelings to sort out; having a neutral party can be extremely helpful.
-Remember there are LGBT support groups for teens, adults and parents to call upon in your community.
-Be patient with loved ones that have different beliefs about sexuality and gender preference. You cannot control their initial reactions whether they respond in a positive, neutral or negative way.
-Self love and being “your own best friend” is an essential ingredient for mental health and wellbeing.
Thank you Matt Sarafa for sharing your wisdom and your thrive story this week on my podcast. To listen: (Matt Sarafa Podcast on the Dr. Denise Show).