Author, speaker, perspective coach, social influencer and celebrity TV host, AJ Gibson has a gift for helping individuals shift out of a fear-based mindset into one of abundance and opportunity! From his small town 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 being 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.
AJ spent 2 years as the host of Hollywood Today Live on FOX, has filled in as a guest co-host on Access Hollywood Live and appears regularly on Southern California’s iconic morning chat fest Good Day LA! From time to time, you can also catch AJ sitting next to the ladies of The Talk on CBS or giving fans the Inside Scoop on The Wendy Williams Show.To the outside world, AJ is just a guy who works in television and interviews the most famous celebrities on the planet. BUT, to those who know him, he is deeply passionate about life and a fan of meaningful interpersonal relationships. As a gay Christian who used to be borderline Atheist who has experienced the lowest of lows at the hands of others proclaiming to be doing God’s work, but has experienced the highest of highs through God’s actual work and is not afraid to let the world know the difference between the two.
AJ helps individuals strengthen their ability to view every experience as an opportunity for growth no matter their current reality. They leave feeling empowered with the ability to transform their thought patterns into a productive action-oriented mindset. His new book, Flipping the Script: Bouncing Back From Life’s Rock Bottom Moments, shows how his life has been a series of personal roadblocks and rock-bottom moments. Every time he thinks he’s in the clear, he finds a new way to crash and burn. Let’s just say insecurity was once a pretty close friend of his, so he knows what you feel like whenever you find yourself scrolling social media comparing yourself to others. Really, he does. Luckily, he’s a pretty smart guy and moderately witty, always finding his way out of life’s rock-bottom moments – and you can, too!
AJ sat down with BEAU for an exclusive interview about his new book.
In the book, you name the chapters with the ending “AF”. Why is that? Also, why the title “Flipping the Script”?
I get this question a lot, but only from a certain age demographic lol (usually anyone 40 or older)! So, “AF” stands for “As Fuck.” For example, if it were really humid outside, you might say, “It’s humid AF out here!” Initially, I’d used “AF” at the end of a single chapter title and during one of the preliminary rounds of edits from my publisher, they suggested we title every chapter the same. It shows my personality, makes difficult topics a little more accessible and brands the book cohesively. It was a great suggestion and I’m proud of it, but it does spark some interesting conversations. While I was in my hometown promoting the book recently, my 5th grade teacher from Catholic school asked what it stood for and I explained it, but quickly followed by suggesting she read it as “Always Faithful,” which got a good laugh!
Your story is something that really connects with people hitting “rock bottom”. No matter what your professional or personal path is, this is something that everyone has, or will go through at some point in their lives. What is something you want readers to take away from your experience?
My hope is that readers will relate to my personal stories and come away with the understanding that “rock bottom” is in fact a beautiful place to be. I know it can be scary, but at “rock bottom” there are no restrictions, no limits and nothing but endless possibilities to regroup and reinvent ourselves! Rock bottom has the ability to quiet the noise and create space for clarity. Knowing that you’ve already failed and been judged by others creates a freedom that can lead to some pretty bold, courageous choices. It’s not the easiest perspective to shift into, but hopefully this book will help readers to see that when they’ve hit their own personal rock bottom moment, there is nowhere to look but UP and if they’re open to that concept, the possibilities to rebuild their lives are endless!
What was your writing process when writing this book? What was going through you mind as you were writing it?
Mostly, I just had meltdowns and panic attacks for most of the process. Also, I’m not kidding AT ALL! I tried quitting and deleting this book soooooooo many times and each time I would freak out my boyfriend, Emile, would hold my hands, look into my eyes and say, “AJ, the book is the key…FINISH THE BOOK!” I was in a really vulnerable place for the 8 months it took to write Flipping the Script and without his support, in particular, I’m not sure I would’ve pushed through my fears. I’d accept this narrative that I wasn’t famous enough to write a book yet or that my story wasn’t important enough to share, so I had a lot of self-doubt and also, talking about faith, sexuality and suicide in your debut book is a bit daunting, but I’m so proud of myself for not holding back. At my very best, I practice what I preach, and this book is AJ at his VERY best!
Some people “pray the gay away” or “wish the gay away.” Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if you were not gay?
To be clear, I don’t believe anyone actually prays or wishes the gay away, but I do believe that many suppress that part of themselves, which is tragic. I used to wonder what my life might be like if I were born straight, but I don’t have the time or energy to direct towards thoughts that do not serve me or those around me. I was created with purpose and for a purpose and it is my job to find that purpose. God DOES NOT make mistakes and my sexuality is the greatest blessing He could’ve given me. Now, I’m using that blessing to let others know how special they are too, because unfortunately, many of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are never told that basic truth.
Writing this book, you let readers know your true struggles of being LGBT. If you could go back in time, what would you say to your old self? Even before you got the gig on Fox.
I would first tell myself that I am a survivor, because I didn’t know that for many years. I would also tell myself to stop letting other people’s opinions dictate my life or how I felt about myself. I spent much of my life feeling insecure every time a single person would have a negative opinion of me based on nothin’ more than my sexuality, but I now see how absurd that was. It is not my job to educate every person who’s unwilling to educate themselves. My job is to share my story and encourage others to do the same, because it’s much more difficult to judge someone or to vote to take away their rights if you’ve actually taken to time to learn their story. I believe the most powerful tool we have as a community is our stories and more need to be told!
Let’s face it, people think that religion and homosexuality do not mix. However, you prove this to be false! You are proud Catholic. What are some words that you have for members of the church who view down upon homosexuality? What about those who are within the LGBT community and look down upload religion?
This one is tricky. I was baptized Catholic, but have no identified as such since I was a teenager. I am, however, very much a Christian. For most of my life, I’ve felt judged by people of faith for being gay and I’ve felt judged by the LGBTQ community for being a person of faith, so it’s been a lonely road. However, that forced me to work on my relationship with God and to focus on Him, which is where my sights should’ve been set all along. The simple truth is that Jesus was a radical who mentioned homosexuality a total of ZERO times throughout the Bible and as a Christian, it is my job to live my life according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, so I’m good! The Bible has been used to back all sorts of false, hateful viewpoints throughout history and I’m keenly aware of how deep those wounds go for so many in our community, but each of us were created with love and that is the message I’m determined to spread!
This book is going to benefited so many young people, especially those growing up in rural areas. What is one tip that you can share with the LGBTQ youth in these areas?
I know how difficult it is to grow up in a small town and there simply is no way around that, but I would encourage anyone struggling with their sexual identity to find people they can trust, because those people do exist, even in small towns. Also, and this goes back to what I was saying earlier, it’s important that those who are out and proud SHARE their stories, so that those still finding themselves have people they can relate to. Luckily, we live in a world that is so connected that there are resources out there for those living in areas that might feel cutoff from the rest of the world and I would just encourage those struggling to seek out those resources and I would encourage those in a healthier place to donate to organizations that help those in need. We ALL have to look out for each other.
Reading this book, you make readers feel like anything is possible! You have really fought a strong battle with depression, life struggles, and bulling. What is something that helped you get through those though days.
My faith, my family, my friends and Will & Grace! Lol. That sounds funny, but it’s totally true and not always in that order. I still struggle with depression from time to time, but I’ve surrounded myself with a support system that I didn’t have when I was younger and it’s that support system that sustains me when I have “rock bottom” moments. Difficult periods are always going to come, so in the lighter seasons of life, it’s important that we’re sharing our stories and building networks of support that will catch us the next time we stumble.
What’s next for you? What shows are you currently working on? Maybe a second book?
Well, I’m in the middle of my press tour now, which has been really exciting! I just hosted the red carper for the American Music Awards, promoted the book on Wendy Williams, Sway Calloway’s morning show, Heather McDonald’s Juicy Scoop podcast and just this morning I was discussing the book on Maria Menounous’ Sirius XM radio show. This thing is just gaining steam, so I’m going to see where it takes me, while I continue to pop up on TV screens from time to time. I’ll be doing a lot more public speaking in 2019, so my schedule is about to get real busy in a totally awesome way and I’d also like to turn Flipping the Script into a TV show, radio show or podcast. I want to have a different type of conversation with celebrities and entrepreneurs, because I don’t think it benefits anyone to just hear people talk about the highlights all the time. I want to hear about people’s rock bottom moments and find out what they did to bounce back. THAT is far more fascinating to me! Also, I’ll probably be taking some breaks to watch some Will & Grace…that show is FUNNY AF!
Order your copy of Flipping the Script: Bouncing Back from Life’s Rock Bottom Moments