“The Bachelorette” star Josh Seiter has quickly become a prominent voice for LGBTQ issues. #Powerjournalist Markos Papadatos has the scoop.
Can you tell us about the importance of mental health and body positivity?
The important role our mental health and body image plays in our everyday life can’t be overstated. This is why I try to insert it into any dialogue I have with the media or individual fans. I went through my own mental health journey—a journey I’m still on—when I was hospitalized for depression and anxiety in 2009. I think our pursuit of success, and often falling short in that pursuit and drawing false conclusions from that shortfall, lead to most of our anxiety and depression. It certainly did for me.
Through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) I’ve been able to restructure my thinking so that when I “fail” my thoughts aren’t so catastrophic and debilitating. I think this approach could be helpful for so many other people. The path to mental wellness begins with changing the paradigm through which we view success and failure. Once we get to a point where we no longer see any event as a failure, but solely as an inevitable part of life, we begin manifesting a more positive reality. I think hand in hand with that is our view of our physical bodies.
Nothing is more depressing than staring back at an image of ourselves that we hate. So, it’s important to get to a place of love, where we no longer despise our bodies. I have been both severely overweight and in shape. I think it’s important that we promote body positivity while acknowledging the important role a healthy, active lifestyle can play in our lives. So, for me, mental health and body positivity go hand in hand.
You have taken a firm stance against conservative and religious brainwashing… Why is this so important to you?
I was homeschooled my entire life by conservative Christian parents. It took me many years to unlearn the myopic, insular worldview that kind of upbringing instilled in me. For me, and I can’t speak for anyone else, I found almost all of Christianity’s tenants, as a philosophy, were arbitrary and counterproductive.
Religion teaches you that pleasure is bad, self-abnegation and even suffering is good, and we should have blind faith in an invisible being in the sky. It essentially teaches a passive, incapable existence. I think that kind of outlook is setting a lot of people up for emotional trauma, in addition to a miserable life. I also strongly believe it goes hand in hand with mental illness, including my own.
I think in order to find true happiness, we need to adopt a more positive and realistic outlook on life, which we can achieve through cognitive behavioral therapy. This is why I’m so outspoken about religious brainwashing. It can lead to a lot of mental health issues.
In addition, you have also spoken out against bigotry and hate… Can you briefly tell us more about that?
When I came out as bisexual I experienced a flood of support, but I also received my fair share of hate. I received messages online telling me to commit suicide, calling me homophobic slurs, and telling me I was an embarrassment to God. Needless to say, many of these messages were driven by religious brainwashing and dogma. Regardless of their origin, I made it a point to post the messages to my social media in order to expose the hate that still exists towards those who don’t fit into heteronormative lifestyles. It’s 2023, we need to do better.
What do your plans for the future include?
My plans for the future are to continue contract negotiations in order to secure a series of films I’ll be starring in. I also have travel plans to Utah and Houston in the works, as well as to Wisconsin and Los Angeles. It’s going to be a busy summer for me, which I don’t mind. Of course, I’ll continue raising awareness on LGBTQ and mental health issues. That fight will never stop.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the LGBTQ community?
I think the current state of the LGBTQ community is leaps and bounds beyond what it was twenty or thirty years ago, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I’m also not a huge fan of the issues I see being glorified and focused on in the media. I think the main issue we need to be focused on is equal rights for everybody, regardless of their orientation or gender identity.
That’s a pretty elementary point, and one any democracy-loving patriot should be in agreement with. And there’s ways to provide for that through state and federal legislatures. Everything besides equality, in my opinion, is just a side show. But the media loves dividing people so it’s not surprising they are honing in on extremely divisive issues and stories. The right employed this tactic in the ’80s and ’90s, and now the left and the media are employing it today. It’s truly sad.
Is there anything else you would like to say or add that we did not cover?
I just want to tell anyone out there struggling that I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for putting on your socks. I’m proud of you for tying your shoes. I’m proud of you for getting out of the house when it feels like an insurmountable task in a Sisyphean struggle that won’t end. I want you to know it does get better. I know because I’ve been there. I want you to know that you matter. Your life matters. Please know that. Thanks for having me.
To learn more about Josh Seiter, follow him on Instagram.