Interview of Joey Hewell
By: Shane Elks
My latest “Q&A with a gay” is with television personality Joey Hewell. Joey so graciously took time from his busy schedule to discuss his background and his views on being a gay public figure in a southern town.
SE:What brought you from Atlanta to Charlotte?
JH:I did some modeling when I was a teenager and my "mother" agency was located here. I realized quickly that I wanted to STYLE the models, not be one. So I moved here to be a stylist.
SE:And how does one go from studying at Aveda to hosting a news program?
JH:Kissing lots of ass I suppose! Actually, I was the Fashion Editor for a local magazine so I met a few local celebs including Morgan Fogarty of Fox Charlotte. We became great friends and she asked me if I would fill-in for Brotha Fred one night. The rest is history.
SE:Are there any other hats you wear at the moment?
JH:Oh boy let's see. I am not very good at saying no to folks so my hands are always full. I own a hair salon, J.Studio. I also work as Fox Charlotte's Fashion Editor covering award shows as well as helping viewers navigate trends. I am also working on a few new projects that will be announced in a few weeks, after all this Fashion Week stuff dies down. Well, I guess one of them is already in place. I am designing a men's clothing line and a new line of heels for women.
SE:Well 3 snaps in a Z formation for you!
JH:Hahaha I told you, I never say no apparently!
SE:I understand what it means to be a mad hatter myself! My husband and I find ourselves worshipping at the house of yes frequently!
Are you married to your partner?
JH:Well, as much as we can be. We were married in Central Park in 2004.
SE:Gorgeous! Do you get the question isn't it illegal? We get that a lot and my reply is ummm...I don’t think we are in threat of being arrested! Oh sweet bliss of ignorance!
JH:We get it all the time! Yes, ignorance is bliss my friend!
SE:Do you feel as a public figure in this town that you hold a certain responsibility to be "out and proud?"
JH:Ya know, it was very hard for me to come out, as it is for most of the community. I think because it was such an intense relief, I never really thought about it afterwards. It was like I knew that I would never put myself through that again. I have had people write to me saying how they are so proud of me for being my self and sharing it with the world. I don't look at myself as someone who pushes my self or lifestyle on anyone else. I am from the South so I do realize there are a ton of people here who won't want to watch me or listen to me because I am openly gay. That's just fine with me, the people who do watch are the people I want to be around anyway.
SE:Have you ever felt pressured to "tone it down" or "keep it in the closet"?
JH:Not at all. I have had several people ask me about that. Mostly because they relate my station to the national Fox News! What they don't realize is we are independently owned. I have been with Fox for almost 4 years now and no one has ever asked me to hide who I am or to calm it down. They have been nothing but supportive.
SE:How refreshing! Have you noticed a change in attitude toward the LGBT community from Charlotte over the years?
JH:I have been here for a decade now. I think that our country has really turned a corner on the gay issue. Ya know, if you asked Americans if gays should be able to get married 8 years ago the majority would've said no. Today it's a different story. More people KNOW gay people whether it's a co-worker or a family member or the guy at your grocery store. People, even in Charlotte, are starting to realize that we are just trying to make it like everyone else. I have always said Charlotte is the South's progressive city and I think it will continue to grow and become more and more accepting, not only to the gay community but to diversity in general.
SE:Beautifully expressed! Couldn't agree more. I always say when the discussion ends that is when I will worry! What are your wishes for the future of the LGBT community SE:What are your wishes for the future of the LGBT community and for Charlotte as a whole?
JH:To answer your question regarding the LGBT community and my wishes for it: I know so many people who fight daily for our rights. My wish is for the people who are too afraid to come out for whatever reason, that they know that there are people who will be there for them. We will continue to fight for our rights just like any other minority has done in this country. Eventually we will be equal and that makes it worth getting up everyday for!
SE:And the statement is so true...IT GETS BETTER!!!
JH:Yes it does. You’re a cool guy, thanks man!