He’s amassed a social media following of over 2 million, has modelled for a number of underwear brands – despite the odds being against him (at 5’7″), and is now moving further into the world of activism, Colby Melvin sits down with C&C to chat unapologetic sexuality, shame within the gay community and his love life.
C&C: So you’ve just been announced as the ambassador for Adam Male, tell us how that ties in with the other work you do…
Colby: So I was very lucky to come into the world of social media when I did, as it was all just blowing up. I’m 5’7” so there probably wouldn’t have been any other hope of getting modelling work, but so it was lucky it’s gone so well. I’ve done everything from Andrew Christian to representing the LGBT for Full Frontal Freedom at the Whitehouse. Now that I have a platform I’m looking to use that to move more into activism, and educate people. What’s great about AdamMale.com is that 20% of proceeds go to HIV/AIDs charities (together with Adam & Eve that’s 40% of their total profits). They’re also a great company to work for, as they incorporate sex and education together and present it in a fun and unapologetic way.
You’ve previously stated that you encourage gay men to unapologetically explore their sexuality – do you think that’s something our community has a problem doing?
Well, I think that we have a lack of discussion, for instance, things like douching, having safe sex, grooming, and talking openly about all of these things isn’t really something that’s being done. We grew up not being taught about things like that, so when people want to explore their sexuality and experiment, they go to porn, or they look at models, when what they need is education and guidance.
How would our community benefit from changing that [being educated]?
There would be an decrease in STIs, but there would also build better and more open sexual relationships – whether that be with ourselves or with others. People would discover what is right for THEM instead of trying to fit into some heteronormative model. Different strokes for different folks! Being honest and open about our sex lives is how we can bridge the gap between sexual ignorance and sexual satisfaction. Having a fulfilling sex life isn’t dirty. If you’re having sex you should enjoy it! That also means being informed about the risks involved.
Do you think there’s an element of shame there?
I think the element of shame comes from the apprehension to speak openly and honestly about our sex lives. Talking about sex doesn’t have to be dirty or raunchy. Exploring your sexuality is incredibly important to helping establish a gay mans identity. After all, sex with other men is what makes us gay men. I feel that in the past talking about sex has been viewed as taboo or slutty, when in reality, we aren’t talking about it enough. Gay men are completely unaware of different things they can do to make their own sex lives better or even ways to protect themselves from contracting a multitude of STIs.
We’ve watched the promo video for your collaboration yesterday, where you play the referee… What was gym class like for you at school? Were you particularly sporty?
No, I was a total geek at school. I was pale, had thick glasses – I looked like Harry Potter! And, erm, gym class was…. there. I grew up in a traditional society, where we were taught that being gay is wrong, having sex is wrong, masturbation is wrong – so when I would see boys, even in the locker room, even in just admiration of their bodies, that’s not something that would be addressed.
Have your family been supportive of your lifestyle?
My mom is my best friend – and biggest fan – she’s very supportive, she’s been to underwear shows I’ve worked and she’s even on board with the Adam and Male work which is great. I mean, I’d have done it anyway, but it’s nice to have her support!
Obviously you filmed the promo with Willam and Jackie Beat, which queen are you shipping on this season of Ru Paul’s?
Well, when I moved to LA I had a suitcase of clothes and $100 and Willam really helped me starting out, so it was nice to be reunited. But this series, I like Nina Bonina Osama Bin Laded Brown.
So you previously dated a porn star, is that something you’d ever venture into?
I have no interest in doing porn, but I do have a lot of porn star friends and don’t judge them for their decision at all – if that’s what they choose to do, I respect that.
Would you date a porn star again?
It depends on the guy. I would… My line of work runs parallel to the type of thing they do, so when you date someone that isn’t in that line of work, they tend to get jealous. For example when I get messages – even from guys I don’t even know. Whereas porn stars understand that a little more…
Has it affected your love life?
Yes! A lot of people tend to have an already preconceived idea of what I’m like before they actually meet me. But I only put out there what I want people to see, so it’s like they’ve already made up their minds from that.
So it’s like a double-edged sword?
Yeah, it is. The plus side of it is, is that they keep me warm at night [laughs].
Have you ever had a really made dating disaster?
Hmmm, not really dating, but I’ve had hook-up disasters! Where the guy tends to start acting like a lesbian and get clingy real quick – you know like the joke that says lesbians turn up to the first date with a U-Haul? [laughs] Like you don’t even know my middle name?
C&C QUICK FIRE:
Are you single?
Who’s your celebrity crush?
What’s the biggest turn on in a guy?
A guy that doesn’t take himself too seriously, if he can laugh at himself and put a wig on, then it’s way more attractive.
When was your first kiss?
I can’t remember, you can tell it had a massive impact on my life [laughs]. Sometime in high school?
Would you ever have an open relationship?
Yes, depending on the guy. My last relationship was with a man that was married – to another man. But I don’t think gay men need to worry about the heteronormative settle-down model.