By Kelly Craig
With a pen in hand and a contract on the table, many models find out exactly how much they are signing over after their name is inked in black and white.
Greg Kelley, 21, signed on as a model in New York City at age 19. As an openly gay man, he didn’t think about how the agency would respond to his sexuality.
“I had no idea that the modeling industry was strict about being gay. I thought they were open about it because some designers are gay and lesbian,” Greg says.
“I like men. I always knew I did since birth,” he says of his sexuality.
“To be completely honest, my agency actually told me not to act too feminine in front of clients. I was allowed to at the agency, they were fine with it there, but outside of the agency I had to be ‘straight.’ The main reason is because clients in ‘the industry want MEN to be their brand, not little girls,’” Greg says, quoting his agent.
While modeling, Greg was sent to Milan. There, he became friends with another gay man, and the two would spend time together.
“My agent there [in Milan] grabbed me and said, ‘I want you to stop hanging with Ruben, because when you two are together you act like little girls.’ I didn't listen to my agent. I just thought [his comment] was rude. I mean my agents are totally fine with my sexuality, but they mold us to act straight.”
Even away from the modeling world, Greg feels the pressures of his career in his personal life. He feels he is unable to be exactly who he is for the sake of his image.
“My career does affect my openness because they tell us not to really go out to ‘gay’ clubs that much because it would ruin my [image].” Greg says the question itself is key, and the industry requires them to appeal to both sexes. “They basically want us models to be mysterious. They want people to think, ‘Is he gay? Is he straight?’”
For an industry which has long been accepting of LGBT professionals, do you believe Greg’s story is demonstrative of who we ask our models to be?