Obio Jones is an LGBTQ+ advocate, coach, speaker, and podcast host. He creates content that educates, liberates, and calls people in. His motto is to create space both for yourself and others.
Obio shared with me more about his background, journey, his passion for helping people, how he’s found himself in the process, and some new exciting opportunities that are in his future.
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1AND1: Can you tell us more about your journey and how you became an LGBTQ+ advocate, coach, speaker, and podcast host?
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Obio: As a Black queer man, I often navigated through shame in my life. I think many people operate in shame and do not think about how do we get out of this shame, but who can we bring with us, right? So when I started getting out of that and living in my fullness, in my truth, I wanted to help others live in their fullness, too. That’s the short version of how coaching started. And after that, I started posting more, especially during lockdown once COVID hit.
I felt like I had something to say, so I turned my camera on and started talking about my experience(s), asking questions, etc. I started a Youtube series called It’s Just Not Adding Up. I thought everybody preaches about inclusivity and all these things, but it wasn’t adding up because I didn’t see much of it. So, I wanted to challenge that rhetoric, and from that series, I started a website where I talked to other people who were in the community about how to navigate coming out and navigating their friends and families.
From there came the coaching, advocacy, reaching more people on my platforms, etc., but it was all birthed from me finding myself.
1AND1: Your motto is to “create space both for yourself and others.” Can you elaborate on this? How does this philosophy guide your work in different areas, especially as a life coach?
Obio: Kind of what we were saying before. It’s that internal battle and fear of not having space. I don’t want to do this because there may not be space with my friends, in my family, jobs, this world. So it’s more so thinking of how I can keep taking up space while being myself.
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And I knew I had to create that. You have to create this space for yourself. Because no one’s gonna do it for you. People might create this box for you to jump in, but you have to make sure you’re being your authentic self that only you can be, only Obio can be. It’s unavoidable if you want to be your true self, living in freedom and liberation. Those other boxes no longer serve you.
1AND1: I love how you mentioned the word “authentic.” What does authenticity mean to you, and have you always struggled to be your authentic self? Or has it been something that you’ve stepped in throughout the years?
Obio: Yeah, I love the question. I struggle to be myself still. There are certain moments where I would associate confidence with authenticity.
I think there’s a certain amount of association with confidence and authenticity. I think it takes confidence to be authentic, and in moments when I can’t be confident, I’ll be courageous.
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That’s more my internal lesson to me. Especially when I first came out, some moments in which I was in my freedom it was courageous. I wasn’t comfortable, but I had to be myself. So I’m here on the outside like I was being so myself, but it was courage on the inside. I was uncomfortable and afraid but knew I cannot take backward steps at this moment. I have to say, hey, I am a gay Black man, and this is what it is. I can’t run away from it.
Authenticity Is difficult. I think we shouldn’t act like because it’s who we are it’s simple. We’ve gone through so much in our lives with family, friendship, trauma, and school. But I think being authentic, long story short, is a lot about being confident, and I think being confident is difficult in a world that’s constantly validating or affirming everybody.
1AND1: You just touched on the point of being in a world where everybody is watching you. Do you think social media and your platform helped you become more confident, and you had support from not only your family and friends but from followers? Or did you have to step out and say hey, this is me; accept it or leave it, especially being a public figure?
Obio: That’s a great question – I’ve never thought about this. I will say growing up, I was well-known at school, or “popular,” if you will, and did a lot of things that garnered attention, I guess. And that came with rumors, so in a way, I was used to being talked about, and the comments didn’t bother me. But I will say I wasn’t used to curating who I was to be so digestible, and in that regard, I think it hindered me a bit because I found myself being palatable to be affirmed by other people rather than who I wanted to be.
Am I still valuable without being perfect? And I recently said in a video about how I can portray wellness and videos, but I actually want to be well. And I think that’s very important. You can see people cleaning their homes, lighting candles, preparing meals, going shopping, and taking vacations, and that’s all good. But I’m actually doing these things, and it’s important.
1AND1: Humor seems to be an important element in your approach, as you’re known to provide a “solid laugh.” How do you strike a balance between the serious nature of advocacy and personal development with the lighter side of humor?
Obio: Yeah. I’m the most serious and unserious person in the world (chuckles). I’m serious about freedom about liberation. On the other hand, I recognize that and say this often, but I’m gonna get back to who I was. Before the world got to me, who was I? It feels very simple. Honestly, love the person beside you – it’s not always deep or heavy! We’ve made it very complex when it’s not.
I used to do skits on social media where I break down the ways in which homophobia, transphobia, and all these things kind of played themselves out, and when you look at the skits, you say, wait a minute, that doesn’t make any sense or what are you saying?
I never want anyone to feel called out, but I want them to feel called in and that we can learn together in real time. I’m learning in real-time, and sometimes you have to laugh at yourself and then readjust.
1AND1: Finally, looking towards the future, how do you envision the evolution of your work in advocacy, coaching, podcasting, and speaking? Are there any upcoming projects or initiatives that you’re particularly excited about?
Obio: I’d love to be on your TV screens very soon (smile) as well as in your purses, bookbags, etc. I want to write a book, so hopefully, in the very, very near future, you will see that and have it in your hands. I’m excited about it and to see what happens from here.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.