Before heading to bed on October 11, 2022, HGTV host — and New Kids on the Block member — Jonathan Knight took time to speak up about coming out. The “Farmhouse Fixer” host didn’t want to let National Coming Out Day end without adding his two cents about the importance of authenticity and inclusivity.
Jonathan Knight Offers Encouragement to Those Struggling to Come Out
National Coming Out Day was first observed by the Human Rights Campaign in 1988 to commemorate the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights anniversary. The organization says the purpose of the annual observance is to “promote a safe, inclusive and loving world where LGBTQ+ people can live truthfully, openly and without fear.”
Knight, who confirmed in August that he married his longtime love Harley Rodriguez, took to Twitter at the end of the day writing, “On this #nationalcomingoutday I head to bed knowing the struggles so many face. My life changed when I was able to live my authentic life! Come out when you feel you’re ready, and know life gets SO MUCH BETTER!! There is so much support and love out there. You are not alone!”
Fans flooded Knight’s post with powerful responses; many thanked him for being such a positive role model for many LGBTQ+ fans and also for helping to shift public perception toward acceptance and inclusion.
One person wrote, “Years ago I was tweeting about a A young man Who’s family is like family! He lived with his father who kicked him out at 16 when he told him! Jon you messaged me to make sure this kid was ok you wanted tp reach out to him! I will always remember that! You are amazing”
Another commented, “I’m so happy you came out. Watching you with Harley has changed the way I view gay marriage. I raised to view it one way that now I see is wrong. People living their authentic life as taught me so much. Praying that everyone can start living authentic lives!”
“Thank you. I’ve struggled with my queer identity, and knowing I’m not alone helps,” wrote another fan. “This is why representation matters.”
Jonathan Knight Has Become More Vocal About Gay Rights Over the Years
Knight rose to stardom in the 80s as one-fifth of the hugely popular boy band New Kids on the Block. It was big news in January 2011 when he confirmed that he was gay, following a TV appearance by fellow 80s pop star Tiffany during which many thought she “outed” Knight.
While appearing on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live,” Tiffany was asked whether she got into a relationship with any members of New Kids on the Block while she was on tour with them.
She responded, “The quiet one, the shy one. [He] became gay later. I didn’t do it. I had issues with that. I was thinking maybe I did. Now looking back when we were dating, he was so much fun. We used to do facials together. He was so easy to talk to.”
Her response created a fan and media frenzy, as many felt the pop singer had just outed Knight as being gay. She later apologized for being so candid, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Knight said there were no hard feelings and issued a statement on the band’s blog, saying he didn’t consider her comments as outing him since he’d technically come out to family and friends two decades earlier.
He wrote, “I have never been outed by anyone but myself! I did so almost twenty years ago. I never knew that I would have to do it all over again publicly just because I reunited with NKOTB! I have lived my life very openly and have never hidden the fact that I am gay! Apparently the pre-requisite to being a gay public figure is to appear on the cover of a magazine with the caption ‘I am gay’. I apologize for not doing so if this is what was expected! My belief is that you live your life by example, and not by a caption on a magazine! If there ever has been any confusion about my sexuality, then you are someone that doesn’t even know me!”
Knight continued, “I love living my life being open and honest, but at this time I choose not to discuss my private life any further! My fellow band members don’t discuss their private lives with their loved ones and I don’t feel that just because I am gay, I should have to discuss mine!”
However, over the years, Knight has become a bit more open about discussing his relationship and life experience, recognizing the influence he has as a public figure. In 2015, he shared his excitement about the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide, changing his last name on social media to reflect his relationship with Rodriguez, by using the hyphenated name Knight-Rodriguez.
In 2016, he told Entertainment Tonight how hard it was to not be able to fully be himself as a teen, from going on prom dates with girls to becoming a heartthrob for millions of girls as New Kids on the Block hit the scene.
“If we were then where we are today, I would have been openly gay from day one with the New Kids and it wouldn’t have been an issue,” Knight said. “Back then there was such a stigma that I couldn’t even tell my best friend. These girls I went to prom with were really good friends and today most girls love gay guys and would be like, ‘Yeah! Let’s go to prom!’”
“Being able to be open back then, we would’ve just had a better time,” he added. “I know I would have.”