Name: AJ Gibson
Birthday: July 20
Social Media Platform: Instagram @_AJGibson / Twitter @AJGibson
From his small town Ohio upbringing to his fast paced LA life, AJ Gibson has experienced it all! Since entertaining viewers as a contestant on ABC’s “Expedition Impossible” in 2011 and having been singled out as “What To Watch” by TV Guide magazine, AJ has turned his 15 minutes in the spotlight into a successful career as a television host and public speaker.
He has also become a fixture on some of Hollywood's most watched red carpets, chatting with some of the world's most admired celebrities! From the Golden Globes to the Billboard Music Awards, where AJ was named one of the best dressed men in entertainment by Esquire, no red carpet is too big for this small town guy with big city ambition.
"A year and half ago, a friend invited me to Mosaic, a church in Hollywood. After the service, she introduced me to AJ, telling me how special and inspiring he is. She was absolutely right, his passion and love for others amazed me. And I said to myself, the world needs more of AJ's heart. "
Today I had the honor of having a conversation with AJ , so that he can inspire you , as he inspired me and still does!
Dydine: Would you tell me a brief story of what was the most challenging moment in your life?
AJ: I've had a few, but I think coming out to my family was the most terrifying and depressing challenge of my life, mostly because society was so different at the time and so was I. I lacked the tools to understand that each person's reaction had nothing to do with me, but was a direct reflection of who they were at that particular time.
Dydine: How did you face it?
AJ: Honestly, not well. I was a sophomore in college and my grades plummeted, I drank a lot and eventually failed out of all of my classes. It wasn't a good period in my life, but over time and with the help of friends, mentors and a few family members I got my life back on track.
Dydine: How did you overcome it? What drove you to become this AJ today?
AJ: From the moment I came out, it was my sole focus to prove to everyone around me that I was not a "typical" gay man. My mom, and others, expected me to do drugs, get AIDS, never have kids or get married and live a difficult life. I was determined to break that stereotype. I've never done drugs, I've made healthy choices sexually and I'm a serial monogamist. Also, there was some luck involved along the way, because not every choice I made sexually was the safest, but I'm proud of the way I navigated that season of my life.
Dydine: What were your survival techniques?
In order to survive, I surrounded myself with loving people...people that cared about me, understood what I was going through and who could make me laugh.
Dydine: What were your tools ?
AJ: I watched a lot of movies and listened to a lot of music to escape my reality. Also, Broadway music has always given me hope in dark times.
Dydine: How did they impact your life?
AJ: I've always been a fan of diversity, but didn't experience much of that growing up. I think that's why I loved film, music and theater which were ways to escape and experience the types of people I desired to have in my life, even if it were from afar. To this day, my friend group and the people I love with all my heart, all look and think quite differently from each other and that inspires me to constantly expand my mind and my heart.
Dydine: What Light's up your heart?
AJ: I love that, I just mentioned my heart and the following question is this! Also, that's not a coincidence at all...I don't believe in them, so we must be in alignment right now, which is a beautiful place to be! Many things light up my heart. I've mentioned a few above, but nothing makes my heart smile more than witnessing genuine love and finding out who an individual is at their core and how they became that person. I work in television because I genuinely love people. I find them fascinating and I love hearing and sharing their stories; what makes them tick, what inspires them and why they do what they do. I believe that we are all connected and created to live in community with one another, which is why we feel so lost when the world is divided. Having an honest discussion with another human being every single day, has always been a goal of mine and I've learned more through those interactions than through any other avenue in my life.
Dydine: What's your message to HUMANITY? - What's the first thing that comes to your mind?
AJ: The first thing that comes into my mind... is that we are all in this together, it can be easy some times to separate from each other, but we are all connected. Often we find our selves, diffrenciating our selves from everyone else, and dividing our selves. I think, that's how war and atrocities are born. If we could make a commitment to meet a new person from outside our comfort-zone on our daily basis, the world could be a better place .
About the Author: Still in her 20's, Rwandan genocide survivor Dydine Umunyana is the author of Embracing Survival: Genocide and War through the Eyes of a Child. She is the founder of Umbrella Press, a multi-media publishing venture dedicated to giving a voice to the voiceless. Dydine was appointed a youth peace Ambassador in 2013 for the Aegis Trust, an organization dedicated to the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities worldwide. Subsequently, in 2015, she became a Global Mentor for Peace at Serve 2 Unite, an organization that cultivates peace through creative service learning and global engagement. Dydine is committed to establishing a dialogue between people to help them understand their shared histories and cultural differences. Through her writing, public lectures and filmmaking, Dydine’s goal is to pierce the wall of silence that still pervades much of our society.
Spread the word and let everyone know that Human Spirit is strong and good people still exist on this earth.
See you next Sunday morning with more treats from Dydine!