Celebrity

Queer Eye's Karamo's wild journey into fatherhood

He went from reality TV star living with strangers to a dad with full time custody of two young boys.

By: Kate Wagner

During the first season of Queer Eye, we learned Karamo was a dad when he made the heartbreaking revelation his son didn't want to get his driving license because he was so scared of the police.

With the culture guru looking so damn good, people were shook he had a kid old enough to drive. After some digging, it turns out his journey to being a father was far from traditional; in fact, it didn't even start until his son was 10 years old.

Although he came out as a proud gay man at 16 years old, he'd had a girlfriend before that. The couple were best friends and lost their virginity to each other.

"My last girlfriend in high school — when I was 15 — became pregnant with my child but did not tell me," he told Parents.com. "She moved away, and I never had contact with her again; remember this is before social media."

Ten years later, Karamo was making waves as the first openly-gay African-American man in the history of reality TV during his time on The Real World: Philadelphia when he was served a subpoena for child support back pay — that was the first time he'd heard he had a son.

"I was confused, sad, angry, and weirdly excited to be a dad, but felt lost nonetheless," he confessed. "We were both kids and don't blame her for the decision she made because the choice was not hers, it was the adults around us."

Karamo took full custody of Jason, now 21, and later adopted his half-brother, Christian, now 17.

"A situation came up where [Chris] had to be placed in my home," Karamo explained. "It was only meant to be a temporary placement, but he started to flourish and he started to do well around me and his brother."

Chris then moved in permanently to Karamo's house and their relationship grew.

"I shower my kids with love because I think it's so important that men show their kids open affection. I kiss them all the time, I tell them how much I love them and how proud I am of them," he told Huffington Post.

Karamo thinks his parenting style — open and non-judgemental — is hugely influenced by the fact he's young and gay.

"Being a younger parent, and also being gay, has been a benefit of mine because I talk to my kids in a very transparent way," he told Huffington Post. "In return, there's nothing they have to hide from me."

"We so often tell kids, 'if you do wrong, tell me', but once they tell you, you punish them. So why would they tell you the truth? With my kids it has always been, 'if something happens and you're honest, I won't punish you. If I have to find out, then you get punished.'"

"It's so beautiful; I can have conversations with them. They are able to have their opinions and know that I respect them."

Jason and Chris seem to be equally as enamoured with Karamo and are proud of his role on Queer Eye.

"This is the first show that my kids care about," he admitted to E!. "Every show I've been on, my kids pay no attention. They're just like, 'Who cares. It's just dad's job.' And this is the first time that they [said], 'Wow, we're so impressed."

"I'm like 'Oh my gosh, that is the most amazing thing to me,'" he said. "They're prideful of it and I think that shows where we're at in 2018. That my two sons who identify as straight are proud of their gay dad and the show that he's on that is about five gay men. And their friends are proud of it and watching it. It shows the growth of our consciousness as people and I'm happy."

His modern family is certainly gorgeous, but Karamo also hopes they act as a reminder life isn't always predictable, but it is amazing.

"When people hear my story, my hope is always that they start to believe that the life they want is possible for them because I am living the life I've always dreamed," he said. "In our country being from immigrant parents, growing up black in the South, coming out at 16-years-old, being a teen parent… you would assume that my life would amount to nothing. And here I stand today. So, if I can do it, you can too."