As we close out Men’s Health Awareness Month, we sat down with Jones to learn how he helps his audiences in the mental health space.
If you’re looking for a masterclass on creating space for marginalized communities, look no further. Obio Jones, a certified life coach, and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, has created a successful platform centered around just that. Whether conversing with guests from similar backgrounds on his YouTube channel about the many layers of this intersection or creating witty yet informative TikTok videos, he’s uplifting much-needed dialogue on the Black and queer experience.
Jones routinely creates digital content that speaks to these experiences while touching on the mental health aspect of it all. He is keen on creating safe spaces for his audiences because he’s experienced the grim reality of not feeling fully seen.
"I didn't want to be seen in my fullness because I didn't think it could be honored," Obio Jones told EBONY. "In my content, your fullness is honored, and you're safe in this space. Even in my videos, I'm conscious of making sure that I do my very best and not make people feel excluded. I want to make people really feel seen and heard because I know what it's like to want a pocket to feel seen in your fullness, and it all be okay."
According to The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy, 79% of Black LGBTQ+ adults in the United States reported some form of trauma or abuse. Jones recently received his life-coaching certification, and one trend he notices among his queer clients is dismantling internalized shame.
“It's interesting that the foundational layer is getting past that shame of other people and the trauma of what other people projected onto us. I don't think people understand what that does to your mental,” he said. “A lot of us are used to love that does not feel like love. I just remind most of my clients that their silence is safe. I think for us, as queer people, we’ve felt the desire to have the answers for everything. We’ve been charged with having to defend ourselves, defend our mental state, defend where we are, and have a response for how we feel on the spot. So your silence is always safe and comfortable.”
While the digital creator makes strides in affirming his clients to overcome the mental gymnastics that can be felt outside of queer communities, he makes it clear that the same issues are still very much present in queer spaces, too.
“When you go into certain queer spaces, you're like, ‘I should feel safe here,’ but we're all navigating similar traumas. We're all trying to figure out what to look like and the hierarchy of it all. All of these things of seeing where I can fit in, it becomes another mental gymnastics routine. For many of us, having that space in our lives to not have to navigate ourselves or anyone else is important. I think because we're spending so much time figuring out who we are, we're also spending time trying to figure out who's in the room.”
It's not surprising to come across one of Jones’ videos where he’s empowering his Black, queer audience to give themselves grace on any given day. What might be surprising is the fact that the millennial creator is still learning that for himself— one day at a time.
“If I'm being super transparent, I'm still learning that,” Obio Jones said. “I understand the importance of it, which is why it's so integral in my content because I know that you need to give yourself grace and love, and I'm in the midst of learning what that looks like to give it to myself. So I know, even if I haven't mastered it yet, I need it.”
When it comes to those who want to be allies to the queer community, Jones advises to just be mindful of a person's capacity.
“For an ally to truly be an ally, come to the slate blank. Be very lenient with the capacity of other people because sometimes we can find ourselves so invested in wanting to show up for somebody that we don't leave room for them to have a life experience in the meantime. Understand that I'm still a human being with a human experience as I'm helping you navigate what it means to show up for me.”