I am generally not a fan of reality TV, but when I heard about Logo TV's new reality dating show Finding Prince Charming, I decided to check it out. It did captivate me. Maybe it's because I'm on my own search for love or maybe it was because I wanted a show to take me away from all the craziness of the world. Regardless of the reason, I tuned in every week to watch these men search for love, tackle their fears, & embrace their strengths. I had my favorites, but I found myself gravitating more towards one guy in particular, Brandon Kneefel. Initially it was because of his good looks, but as the weeks went on, it was definitely more for what was inside Brandon. It was his past struggles that made him who he is today. It was his vulnerability. It was his genuineness. It was the way he carried himself. It was the way he made others feel. It was the way he showed Robert how he would stick by someone through thick & thin. The more I learned about Brandon, the more I cheered for him. But then there was the season finale & Brandon was sent home.
It was in that moment, I wanted to speak to Brandon more about his time on Finding Prince Charming. I wanted to learn more about Brandon overcoming his addiction. I wanted to know everything. So, I called (well Tweeted) & Brandon answered! What you will see below is a man who has lived a life & turned his hardships into something positive.
If you missed Finding Prince Charming, you can watch the whole season on Logotv.com. Then catch the Finding Prince Charming reunion show this Thursday, November 10 at 9pm on Logo!
1. This fall you were part of Logo's reality series Finding Prince Charming, where 13 single gay men lived in a house and compete to win the affections of Prince Charming, Robert Sepulveda. What made you want to go this route to potentially find love? Who, if anyone, do you keep in touch with from the show? When I was initially approached to do the show I immediately said "no." Two months later during a nighttime reflection, I heard a voice that said "If you want a new experience with romance and love, you've got to do something drastically different." Once I said "yes" the path to actually joining the cast and taking the time off from my life was unbelievably smooth.
I talk to many of the guys, the top five, for sure. Even guys from earlier in the season, like Jasen and Nick are wonderful and generous men so I would try to continue friendships with them.
2. Out of all the guys in the house, you were one of the more reserved guys at the start. It took you almost losing your tie in the Black Tie Affair to open up to Robert and reveal your truth. Considering you were on a TV show, in front of millions of people, why do you think you waited until you were almost sent home to reveal your truth? Was it because you just didn't get the chance to be alone with Robert prior to that moment or do you tend to wait to do things until you backed against a wall? It was wonderful editing, I was never concerned that I was going to be sent home, but I also knew it was time to reveal the deeper part of me. I wanted to do something meaningful and I wasn't interested in stealing mass quantities of time from Robert, so during the Black Tie Affair, I asked Lance if I could say something; I knew the quality of that experience would be more telling than hijacking two minutes here and there in a group setting.
3. The truth you revealed to Robert was that you were a recovering alcoholic. In that moment, what were you most worried about and what were you most relieved about? When he gave you that hug, what went through your head? I didn't actually tell him until the next day--again, the magic of editing. But I did say "This is a very meaningful object and represents a turning point in my life, and I'd love for you to hold onto this until we get our due time for me to tell you a bit more about me." I actually never said the words "sobriety necklace." But, I understand, for efficiency in story-telling, why they edited it that way.
I knew it would just be icing on the cake for me to go off-script, so to speak, to do a genuine gesture for him.
4. You managed to make it to the final episode, having Robert's choice come down to between you and Eric. In the end, Robert chose Eric. Looking back on the show, do you think getting sent home was the best thing that could have happened to you in your journey for love? How did this show help you open up more to the possibility of love in your life? I am still on my journey to love. If anything, it was beneficial because it directly showed me what it would look and feel like to close your heart, and how that's an option. More importantly, it revealed how we become convinced that protecting our hearts is the same as closing, it's not. Open-heartedness was essential for me getting through probably the most challenging consecutive 72 hours of my life. To try to explain this more simply, I had to stay open long enough for the ideas of rejection and not being "good" enough or not having what someone else was wanting, or being defective because I couldn't drink like the other guys, that all ran through my mind after the last Black Tie Affair to pass through and not stay inside of me.
5. Since your mantra is all about happiness, what were the three funniest moments that happened off-camera? Sometimes the funniest moments were not very happy moments, but more nerve-racking. The humor definitely helped us stay sane.
The masquerade was painfully hilarious, because it was literally one royalty-free techno song on repeat and we weren't supposed to take our masks off, like, at all. But everyone, even the other happy ones like Justin and Robby were starting to spiral out. Haha.
Oftentimes we had to drive really far places with each other and we couldn't talk. Now, for people like me and Robby, telling us not to talk is like having two little kids trying not to giggle in a church pew. It was impossible. It was always a giggle-fest.
I didn't take a lot seriously in the house, especially things that people said and did. Therefore, you always could hear me laughing or smiling.
6. Let's switch gears for a moment and talk more about you, Brandon Kneefel, the man not on Finding Prince Charming. You are a man who has overcome so many hurdles. On your website, you list words that were put on you at a young age: Failure, Defiant, Evil, Suicidal, Drunk, Criminal, Ungodly, Trichotillomania, ADD, OCD, Anxiety Disorder, Stereotypic Movement Disorder, Head-Banging Disorder, Autism, Depression, Bipolar, Cocaine Addict, Alcoholic, Deviant, User, Faggot, Sinner. In her song, "Words," Madonna sings, "Words, they cut like a knife. Cut into my life. I don't want to hear your words. They always attack. Please take them all back. If their yours, I don't want them anymore." The words people say to one another, stick. They are hard to let go of. Out of all these labels put on you, were there ones that hurt more than others? When did you finally let go of these words? When you look at these words now, what do you think about? I actually love these words. I write them down because they provide an often necessary conscious shock to the ways in which we have disordered thinking and being in this world. These words can sometimes wake people up when they are explained. I use these words to connect deeper to others. When I actually found out what it meant to be an alcoholic, I grew. When I actually discovered the gift of being gay, I grew. When I was unmoved by someone labeling me defective or evil, I grew. And I still grow, now. Today I look at what it means for me to possibly have fear around letting people see me at my worst, but when I am able to, I grow.
7. So many of these words pulled at my heart-strings, especially you being an addict and attempting suicide. I have never been an addict myself, but there was a time in my life when I thought about taking my own life, though I never knew how I would do it. But through my friends, family, music, and therapy, I found my way back. What was the moment that made you go, "I don't want to be an addict anymore. I don't want to die. My life is worth living."? How did you find your way out of the darkness? Who did you first reach out to for help? I began meditation, incredibly casual-style, like sitting in a chair listening to YouTube guided meditations from Malika Chopra--Deepak's daughter. And after three months of doing three-minute guided meditations, I was still enough to hear something beyond me say, "This behavior probably won't kill you as soon as you'd hope, but you will not do anything or have anything worth while until you give it all up." It clicked then and there. I reached out to another friend who I knew was sober and started my journey.
8. Since becoming sober, what is something that you do now that you are grateful to be able to fully experience as opposed to doing it drunk or on drugs? Literally everything. I dance all the time because I can actually hear the music. I can feel everything and I have the tools to process all the good times and the challenges. I actually talk to people now. I never used to pick up the phone. 90% of sobriety for me is having the conversations we've been meaning to have: telling the guy how we feel, asking our boss for a promotion, asking the creditor for an extension, telling our roommates what bothers us in a situation, apologizing for our wrong-doings, when we take steps in the right direction, the Universe suddenly aligns to work miracles in our lives. This is my experience.
9. Out of your experience, you became a spiritual counselor/soul coach. On your website, you also mention that you cannot help bring peace to the world without first finding peace within yourself. What was the first thing you found peace with? How has helping people find themselves continued to help you find yourself? What are your top three most heart-warming stories from helping others? The first thing I found peace with was the idea of "letting go absolutely." If I was wanting an overhaul for my life, I had to allow something greater than me to take the reins and redesign it for me, completely. If I was going to turn over my drinking and using, I had to turn over my relationships, career, finances, and everyday habits.
I believe counseling is never done by me, it is done onto me and my clients equally when we unite for healing. Further, I also cannot transmit what I do not have. I do one-on-one on a case-by-case basis because it does drain me. All my clients directly reflect back to me my own current or past suffering or blocks to love, which is a lot to often confront while remaining clear enough to guide someone else.
I don't know about my top three heart-warming stories, but I will say three things that might be unique:
- I sometimes wear sunglasses with clients because I don't want my tears or gaze to distract them. Sometimes I close my eyes to "hold space."
- I sometimes write Mind Treatment or Affirmative Prayers before sessions, and often the themes of whatever I wrote on will arise in the client's stories or assignments for that day, unaware of my writing. I am actually finishing a booklet of Affirmative Prayer--How to Change Your Mind to Change Your Life--right now that will be available on my site before the holidays. www.BrandonKneefel.com
- All of my coaching and counseling requires a client to expect two results: A) their own healing and B) their own commitment to bless the world with their greatness. For that, I often get incredibly high-achieving people who also suffer from great trauma or mental/emotional/spiritual unrest who want help going to the next level.
10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I'd love to continue to live as I did in the house: for each moment, grateful for the day and not expecting anything other than connection with others.
Brandon Kneefel, cast member of Logo TV’s Finding Prince Charming, has a long history of social justice and empowerment work, specifically working to heal homophobia in and outside of the LGBTQ community. Brandon was awarded the Point Foundation Scholarship (nation’s largest LGBT-granting scholarship fund) and additionally received a top honor–the Jonathan D. Lewis name-scholarship, given to the "scholar who shows most merit as a future progressive leader." His story has been published alongside notables such as Nate Berkus and Martina Navratilova in the volume Crisis: Growing Up Gay in America. Instinct Magazine called Brandon a "voice for his generation." He’s written for numerous outlets and currently writes pieces focusing on intersectionality and faith communities for The Huffington Post. In 2007 he was the Media Director for the westbound Equality Ride, which was an effort guided by young adults that used Gandhian nonviolence to confront anti-LGBT colleges on their policies and rhetoric. He uses his experience with addiction and growing up in an anti-gay household and religion as a lens for viewing the world in which we live: if we know what heals one life, we know what heals the world.
Brandon speaks around the country and currently serves in volunteer leadership roles with AIDS Walk LA, Inspire Spiritual Community (an interfaith community founded for an by LGBTQs), and JUUstice LA (an activist organization developed to address equity, economic and environmental issues).