Aaron Rhodes is an model, actor and YouTube personality. He is one half of The Rhodes Bros., along with his fraternal twin, Austin. In 2015, the two recorded an emotional video in which they came out as gay to their father. The clip went viral and many praised their father for his unconditional acceptance of his sons. Here, Aaron shares some insight into the decision to film the video and the reaction his father had off camera.
"You know I love you both and that’ll never change," are the words of unconditional love that my dad spoke in a video that would go on to be heard around the world.
In January of 2015, my twin brother, Austin, and I decided to catch his reaction to the both of us coming out as gay and post it to our YouTube channel.
It was a decision that some people questioned, but our intentions were always pure. We just wanted to show people how difficult that moment can be and inspire those that don’t know how to approach the conversation. Exploiting his reaction was never the agenda.
Knowing our dad didn’t work on Sundays, the morning came to call him. We nervously made it through the conversation and were absolutely amazed by his reaction. It was a moment I will never forget.
A couple of days following the call, I went home to Ohio from California to visit my family. Austin and I would always take turns going home because we didn't have the money to go together, so while there, I asked my dad if we could privately have a conversation about our coming out.
We knew going into filming the video that we would never post it unless we had our dad’s blessing to do so. Therefore, while having the conversation with him in Ohio, I did just that. I revealed to him that we had filmed his reaction to us being gay and were so proud of the unconditional love he showed to us right away.
I explained that I thought the video could really help not only kids, but parents struggling with how to react to their LGBTQ+ child. We cried, talked for a bit and he then gave me his blessing to post the video.
The next day, I sat anxiously staring at the video knowing what I was about to do. Everyone was going to know we were gay. No more hiding. No more secrets. And in that moment, I pressed publish.
I remember laying my head down and sobbing. I wasn’t sad, but it felt like more of a cry of relief for my younger self. That confused and lonely little boy thinking things would never get better was finally able to be their authentic self.
As the hours passed, I could quickly see that my dad’s words of unconditional love were being heard loud and clear. I woke up the next day to millions of views and thousands of messages showing love to my family.
I quickly met with my dad for breakfast and could tell that he was in complete shock by it all. The next few days were a whirlwind, but he took it on with us and to this day, I could not be more proud.
I believe dads deserve more credit, and there’s a false idea that they have to be emotionally closed off and tough. Going into the coming out conversation I completely believed that, but my dad shattered it by being compassionate and nurturing to my brother and I’s emotions. He didn’t understand what we were feeling, but only wanted us to feel love and that’s why I think it resonated with so many.
We’re all so much closer today because of the entire experience. We can now be open about everything and it’s the best feeling in the world. I’m so thankful to have not only my brother go through the coming out process with me, but also a supportive and loving family. It made it much easier and I wish young Aaron would’ve believed in them sooner.
I know some people don’t have it as easy as my brother and I, but please know that there is a community out here waiting to love you unconditionally. Have patience and do what’s best for you. It’s your coming out journey.
To the parents out there that love and support their kids no matter what: thank you. You’re making this world a better place.
Editor's note: This was originally published on June 19, 2019.