HGTV Host, Disowned for Being Gay, Loses Mom Weeks After Sharing Reconciliation

Keith Bynum "Bargain Block"

HGTV Evan Thomas, Keith Bynum and Shea Hicks Whitfield of HGTV's "Bargain Block."

Keith Bynum, co-host of HGTV’s Bargain Block,” is mourning the death of his mother. She died just one month after Bynum shared on Instagram that they had begun repairing their relationship, years after his family disowned him for coming out as gay.

According to an obituary on Legacy.com, LaQuita Jolene Bynum died June 10 at her sister’s home in Midland, Texas. Two days later, the second season of Bynum’s hit HGTV renovation show premiered. On the show, Bynum and co-host Evan Thomas, his fiancé of over five years, renovate dilapidated houses in Detroit, rejuvenating run-down neighborhoods and providing affordable, fully furnished starter homes for first-time homeowners.

Bynum has compared their work, giving new life to rejected homes, to his experience of coming out as gay to his family. In a 2021 interview with Pride Source, he said, “I kind of personify the houses. I was down and beat up, and even my family didn’t want me after I came out, but someone believed in me and I’m in such a better place now. The houses are the same. They just need someone to believe in them again.”


Keith Bynum Launched His First Design Company at Age 14

Growing up in West Texas, Bynum discovered his love of design and entrepreneurship at an early age. According to the company website of Nine Design + Homes, which he co-owns with Thomas, he launched his first company at age 14, and it went on to be a “nationally recognized retail and manufacturing chain.”

“As a teenager, most kids are out doing partying and crazy teenager things, but I was at home doing distressed paint, chippy furniture, and building French cabinets for my bedroom,” Bynum told “Entertainment Tonight” in June 2022.

Eventually, he and his younger sister, Joni, created a company called JoniKeith Co., featuring inspirational home décor — primarily distressed wood and metal wall hangings — according to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal.


Family’s Rejection Didn’t Keep Bynum From Following His Dreams


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When Bynum decided to spread his wings, revealing his sexual orientation and his dreams of renovating homes, his family was not so supportive. In an HGTV Pride Month video released in June 2021, Bynum opened up to longtime HGTV host David Bromstad about his family’s reaction.

“It did not go well when I came out, so they have essentially disowned me,” he told Bromstad. “I just kept working, and Evan kept helping have me focus on what we love doing, and it got to a point now where I realize it’s their loss. It’s not going to hold me back from having a fabulous life and being who I am.”

Bynum told Pride Source that his dad also told him that being gay would keep him from succeeding in any kind of construction-related career. Rather than dissuade Bynum from pursuing his dreams, his father’s comments fueled his desire to be a changemaker.

Named one of Advocate’s 2022 Champions of Pride, Bynum told the magazine, “I thought it would be important to start a business to be able to offer a safe space for people in construction that may not fit into the traditional construction world. It was something I was very passionate about.”

While Bynum said the primary mission of his show, “Bargain Block,” is to create affordable, quality housing for first-time homebuyers, he told Pride Source that providing safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people who are interested in working in construction and renovation, like carpenters, has become a second goal. “It wasn’t our intention in the beginning,” he said. “But it certainly became that we were aware we were doing that, too, and it was interesting to see the people who flocked to us because of that.”

It seems even his mother recognized the importance of connecting with her son before her recent death. On May 11, Bynum posted a photo on Instagram of himself smiling and holding hands with his mother, as she lay in a home hospital bed. He captioned the photo, “It’s never too late to start again” and included the hashtag #lovemymama.

A funeral service was held on June 15 at Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home Chapel, before her burial in Roby, Texas, according to the obituary. It is not clear if Bynum was able to attend his mother’s service; he had not addressed her death publicly at the time of publication.

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Chuck Storey
Chuck Storey
21 hours ago

I have been watching the show from day 1. I can tell you that Keith, Evan and Shea work together as a team to make a fantastic team on the show. Its funny, amusing show, and you learn alot about creating useful design tips on a budget. Evan displays how common household flaws are displayed, and what costs are usually involved. The process is the fun part, the timeline is the overview, and the budget is the support system of each project they do! They never seem to be short of any creative ideas. I love them all,, and theres no shortage of canvased opportunities in the city of Detroit… thanks for that! I just moved from Michigan to Florida,, I really wish I could thank you guys for taking care of my Homies! Come down for a visit! I got a spare room!

Christine Zielinski
Christine Zielinski
11 days ago

To the creators of the show. Please dont make this show about Shea and her husband buying real estate and Keith and Even just designing the interiors. I watch this show because of these two talented guys that have come to Detroit to make a difference for this community. Dont get me wrong i like Shea and her husband but it hasnt been too long at getting to watch Keith and Evan !! Please let these guys be the starts they are I love their show and have told many people about it already dont ruin it!!!

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