Thursday, January 19, 2023

HGTV’s Jonathan Knight reveals why he’s been keeping new kids on the block

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Though Jonathan Knight loves his life today, working as an HGTV host and a member of the reunited music group New Kids on the Block, he recalls that his early years with the group were very stressful — so much so that he was the first to leave the group in the Year 1994. The ‘Farmhouse Fixer’ host was interviewed by former NSync boy band member Lance Bass for his new podcast and opened up about how much pressure he felt in the ’80s and early ’90s to pretend he wasn’t gay how hiding his truth took its toll.

On the new podcast, Frosted Tips, hosted by Bass and released on January 15, 2023, Knight – who was a teenager when the group started – revealed that despite NKOTB’s incredible success, he had to constantly deal with the pressure, didn’t he to be to show that he is gay.

“My manager knew I was gay,” he said. “He pulled me aside and was like, ‘If someone finds out, your career is over, the New Kids’ career is over.’ My manager said: ‘My career is over, Sony will lose money.’ It was just so much pressure. In hindsight, that’s a lot of pressure for someone just trying to explore the world for themselves.”

Knight added, “He conveniently always had another gay kid around, so, you know, I’ve hooked up with a few (and) with a few I’ve just been like, ‘No, not my guy, walk away me.'”

Though Knight hasn’t officially come out to his family and friends, he said they only ever knew he was gay. But that made him even more worried that someone, somewhere, would reveal his secret. The stress from this built up over time, he said.

“I loved being on stage, I loved being in front of audiences, I loved doing TV shows and stuff like that,” he said. “And I think over time the stress just built and built and built. It was crazy.”

Knight said he was the first member to leave the group in 1994.

“There were a couple of reasons,” he said. “First, as a young gay kid, I was frustrated and wanted to move on with my own life. The other reason, it just felt like (NKOTB) wasn’t going anywhere and I just wanted to be home.”

When the group reunited in 2008, Knight was relieved when his bandmates said they found out long before that he was gay and that it wasn’t a big deal to them. He no longer felt the need to hide his sexual identity, but he also didn’t want to come out publicly and make a big deal out of it.

He said on the podcast: “I didn’t mean to. I just lived my life. You know, my brothers and my sister didn’t say, ‘Hey mom and dad, we’re straight.’ You didn’t have to announce it. It wasn’t something I hid, (but) then it was like, ‘No, you have to make a statement.’ And that whole process was awful.”

Though many — including Bass — thought ’80s pop star Tiffany Knight came out in a TV interview, he said he actually felt compelled to make a statement on the band’s website when an ex-boyfriend posted photos of them sold together to a tabloid in 2011.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, his testimony read in part: “Apparently the requirement to be a gay public figure is to appear on the cover of a magazine with the headline ‘I’m gay.’ My apologies for not doing this if this was expected! My belief is that you live your life by example and not by a magazine caption! If there has ever been confusion about my sexuality, you are someone who doesn’t even know me!”

Today, Knight – who is married to longtime love Harley Rodriguez – is amazed at how much things have changed, realizing that people in the entertainment industry no longer have to worry about hiding who they are and who they are you love.

But he realizes that it’s still not quite that easy for some people, depending on where they live or how they were raised. On October 12, 2022, he penned a short but powerful Instagram post celebrating National Coming Out Day.

He wrote: “On this #nationalcomingoutday I go to bed knowing the struggles that so many face. My life changed when I was able to live my authentic life! Come out feeling ready knowing that life is about to get SO MUCH BETTER!! There is so much support and love out there. You are not alone!”

In the Frosted Tips podcast interview, Knight revealed that he and Rodriguez, who he dated in 2008, tried for several years to start a family, but the couple encountered too many roadblocks with donors and surrogates.

“We tried and went through the journey for about five years, but it just didn’t happen for us,” Knight said. “Going through the process is like, ‘Today is the day the eggs will be implanted.’ You’re so excited and you’re so happy and then a week later it’s like no, you’re back to square one.”

Knight said it was Latin pop star Ricky Martin, after becoming a father to twins in 2008, that inspired him to explore the possibility of having children as a gay couple.

“It’s funny because when Ricky Martin first had his twins… he wasn’t out, but there were rumors that he was gay,” he recalled. “And I said, ‘Wait a minute, if he’s gay, how did he have these kids?’ And then we just talked about it with all our good friends, ‘Yeah, well, you can go to an agency and get a surrogate and donate eggs,’ and all that stuff.”

Knight, 54, said he finds it “really odd” having to choose a woman to carry his child to term, but also “such a blessing” that IVF is an option for so many couples unable to conceive . However, he’s content with the life they’ve created for themselves, including his hit HGTV show.

Knight and Rodriguez take care of many animals on their Massachusetts property and are very close to Knight’s large family. In a 2018 Instagram post, Knight shared that they call it “Gathering Farm” because so many loved ones gather there and contribute to good.

He wrote: “Today my nephew bottled honey from the bees he has been tending to for the past 3 years… my sisters are coming up to raid the vegetable garden and help pull weeds… My sister in law has her children for a night out left behind to help and gain strength…Mom is always here taking care of her 3 horses and mowing…my nephews are always here to help…”

He closed the post by saying, “Imperfect, but very perfect for us to ‘gather together’ and enjoy life together with family and friends.”



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