Gregarious television personality Ross Mathews isn’t one to shy away from the spotlight.
But he found himself the focus of unwanted attention last month when disgraced gay right wing journalist Milo Yiannopoulos tried to publicly shame him for being flamboyant.
Yiannopoulos had said: ‘I get emails from mothers sometimes and they say “My son is gay and I was terrified that he was going to turn into Ross Mathews.”‘
Mathews knew he had to respond publicly.
‘I thought about how proud I was that he chose me as the antithesis of him,’ Mathews tells Gay Star News.
‘Then I thought, “I need the kids to hear my message and not his message.” So I went into my backyard. I didn’t talk to a publicist, I didn’t talk to anybody and I just kind of like said, “Ok, go!” I pushed record and I did one take and I thought I’ll put this out into the ether and hopefully the kids hear this and they did.’
Mathews had made this observation of Yiannopoulos in his video: ‘I guess he means that if you’re a bit flamboyant or different, you’re considered “less than.”’
Mathews, 37, gained fame more than 15 years ago as ‘Ross the Intern’ on NBC’s The Tonight Show.
He went on to become a regular panelist and sometimes guest host on Chelsea Lately and now is host of Hollywood Today Live and a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
His video response to Yiannopoulos went viral and has been viewed more than 2.7 million times since 22 February.
‘When I saw those numbers go up like they did, I just felt such pride,’ Mathews says.
‘I’ve heard from a lot of people. I’m used to people knowing who I am and being nice. But now everywhere I go, a Starbucks or a mall, there’s somebody stopping me and thanking me.
‘I’ve read every single email, every single tweet and I’m so grateful. But it is not about me, it’s not why I made the video. I didn’t ask to be in this conversation and I don’t want it to be about me. I’m just glad that that message is getting out to the kids that they’re fine just the way they are.’
Asked how he came up with the words without preparation, Mathews says he just spoke from his heart.
‘The divine came through that day honey. Anyone who’s been there knows exactly what I was talking about.’