At first glance, social media personality Barrett Pall, with his good looks and sculpted physique, fits the mold of the current trend of popular, gay influencers. With literally millions of followers across his YouTube channel, Instagram, and TikTok, he has always been in the public eye from his career as a professional model, starting when he was just a freshman in college. Yes, he is attractive. But after you stop scrolling and really look at his material, you see he is much more than what meets the eye.
In addition to his social media presence, he has been a professional life coach for the past eight years, graduating from NYU with a Bachelor of Science in Communication, Culture, and Media, focusing his studies on human interactions, social processes, journalism, and politics. He is certified in Behavioral Change from the American Council of Exercise and has since created his own methodology that incorporates the mind, body, soul, and emotional space. He has traveled to all seven continents, taking part in humanitarian work throughout different sectors in countries like Cambodia, Thailand, and Kenya, and was named an official UN Partner in 2019. He has meshed his social media and life coaching skills to provide messages of acceptance, self-affirmation, and positivity while calling out attacks on inequality or the promotion of misogyny. Though he is the first to admit that he is still discovering himself and coping with life’s obstacles, he has overcome a path laden with bullying, personal demons, and even sexual assault. His journey of self-discovery started very early on, out of necessity.
As a kid, I was very badly bullied, and I did not have any kind of connection to the way that I looked. It wasn’t something that was praised. I was very obviously queer without being out because as a child, especially in the nineties, it was just like you were a kid. But at school, I was “the faggot” and it wasn’t meant to be nice. That really put this deep level of empathy into just what it’s like to be a different person. It’s really what has enabled me to become the person that I am today, which is the person that I needed as a kid.
My parents were always very cool with me being me, and I’m grateful for that because I know that’s not everyone’s experience. But we also had a lot of struggles in terms of financial insecurity and experiencing homelessness in different parts of my life. While people have gotten to know the adult version of me, the young me was very insecure, very scared. I didn’t really talk. I was afraid people were going to just be mean and make fun of me – my voice is what gave me away. I was not welcomed into a lot of spaces. But, my best friends to this day tend to be women because they really gave me that safe space.
Recently, Barrett shared a journal entry that he wrote when he was 13 years old, heartbreakingly detailing how much he hated his life and how much he was tormented by bullies and even himself trying to come to terms with his sexuality.
It’s wild to read through those journals because the feelings and the emotions are so raw and so real and so right there because it was written down on the page. I’ve journaled for as long as I can remember and I’m grateful for that. Being able to go back and read my own words and, in some weird way, read them as if there’s someone else’s is really healing. Part of what I wanted to do with sharing that entry was letting just all those young people, and people who are older as well, know that we’ve always been around, we’re always going to be around, and through a lot of work and conscious effort, we can heal and find ways to have things be better. There’s the campaign It Gets Better and I’m a big proponent of that and I like to remind people it doesn’t just get better; it can be amazing if you let it be.
Barrett’s looks have been a double-edged sword, and continue to be. Around 16, his braces came off, he got contacts, and started to grow into his own. It wasn’t until he started exploring circles outside of his school that people started to welcome him. He vividly remembers the first time someone referred to him as their “hot friend.”
It literally was just something I had never even thought of, and it was never something that people had given me any insight other than me being just something different. Because of the disconnect for so long, I still have a weird disconnect with it and modeling put another disconnect to it. I call this [my face] my “avatar.” I’m going to have fun with it while I have it, but I don’t want it to be where all my value comes from.
He does know that a lot of his social media success started because of his looks, and certainly his early modeling career was literally focused on how he presented. Does he continue to feel overshadowed by his own body?
I really appreciate this question. No one’s ever asked me this before, but the answer quite frankly is yes. I don’t want to complain. I know that this is part of my toolkit, and if it helps people look at me and then listen to me, then great. But there’s definitely been moments where I have felt like that has been the main focus and it’s been hard. Again, I don’t want people to be like, waa-waa, you’re a victim. No. I understand that there’s a privilege with it, but it’s definitely brought a different set of things that have made some of my life easier and some of my life a little bit more difficult. Why it’s so important for me to talk about the fact that it’s like an avatar is that it’s changing, it’s going to get old and it’s going to get wrinkly and it’s going to do all these things that all bodies do. It’s just to remind people that this is not where our main source of value should come from. And with the rise of social media and being one of the first models on social media, I recognize how I was used to push where we’re at today. And it’s why it’s so important for me to speak out because I see so many people falling into the trappings of it.
And just like everyone else, especially from the gay community, there are struggles with body image. Something Barrett talks about often on his social media.
I’ve nitpicked every single part of myself. Growing up my dad told me I had a big nose. And that’s something that has stayed with me to this day. I’ve been told in casting, to my face, you’re not tall enough, you’re not attractive enough, you’re not muscular enough. I was told by agents that I needed to have an insane body. At the time I wasn’t looked at as unhealthy, but I was exercising two and a half hours a day and I don’t think anyone should be exercising that much. I never got to a dangerous place and I’m grateful for that. But I look at my career and understand how I very much have had to work through my own issues of body dysmorphia.
Unfortunately, the community can be one of the meanest communities when it comes to this stuff. And for anyone who’s struggling through this, I just want them to know – I’m going to keep saying it – this is your avatar, and it is your home and this is the only one we get. And if we are not kind to this, we are doing ourselves a disservice because we should feel safe and happy in this home. I definitely want to say that it’s a struggle. I work on it every day. I have to remind myself every day of the wisdom that has been shared with me. But if we’re not kind to ourselves, it’s going to make it that much harder to believe when someone else is being kind to us. I really hope everyone can find someplace to just be compassionate and loving to themselves.
His sexual assault would come at age 19 when Barrett, still a virgin, was forced into oral sex by a photographer on a photo shoot. Still coming to terms with his own sexuality, it took him a bit to even address it himself, much less make it public.
The hardest part for me was just thinking that that was something that I had done, and I blamed myself, the way I think a lot of survivors do. It wasn’t something that was talked about publicly. It wasn’t until the MeToo movement. I know exactly where I was when I had the realization that I had to speak up. I was sitting in Oprah Super Soul Sunday conversations. I went to it live at the Apollo Theater in New York, and she was sitting there talking to Selma Hayek and she said something, and I just looked at my friend who I’d gone there with, and I was like, this thing happened to me. I had alluded to it, but I know if I’m going to continue to advocate for others the way that I do, I need to advocate for myself. I was nervous to take away space from women who were finally having their voices heard, but I just knew that it was the right thing to do. And it’s a conversation that’s ongoing.
Being tainted by the modeling world, he shifted his focus to becoming a life coach. He offers personal coaching and offers insight and motivation on his website and social media. He’s worked with everyone from Fortune 500 CEOs and royalty to celebrities and members of the queer community. What inspired his shift to life coaching?
I’ve always loved helping people. I think it comes from the fact I didn’t really have help. I remember my mom talking to my guidance counselor when I was in 7th grade, and they talked about this “white knight” thing. There’s definitely a balance of making sure you’re not falling into a savior complex. But I got into fitness professionally when I was in between my first bout of leaving the entertainment industry and figuring out what I wanted to do next. I was a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp and ended up with my first client being someone quite well-known, and then followed by several private clients. The theme that I kept finding while I worked with people one-on-one is that while they needed to change their bodies in a way that made them feel better, what most people are really looking for is just a safe space to talk through things. Because of the world we live in, changing our body has technical results that you can see and that are measurable, but the thing that I think most people are looking for, in general, is really a place to find healing. I’m grateful that this has been the journey my career has gone on and it’s continuing to evolve and I’m excited to see what happens next.
Even as a qualified and learned life coach, he is open about the work he continues to do for himself.
Being honest and upfront about the fact that I am still struggling through my own issues of body dysmorphia and processing what aging is like, is important to me. I’m also consistently honest about the fact that I am struggling with family stuff and that I wish my family was what we see on social media and on TV. I want to make as many people as possible feel seen, heard, and happy.
As with any social media personality, there will always be people that will get behind their keyboards and leave comments of disapproval or even hate. Barrett works hard to take this in stride, and not let it affect him mentally, because he knows what the mission of his content is.
The mission is what I’ve known since I was young, and it’s just to make this world a little bit better than how I came into it. Even for the people who leave me hateful, mean comments, I’m still fighting for their rights. It’s hard when it comes from our own community. I’ve talked about this before, a lot of gay men have been very mean to me. At the end of the day, I’m rooting for you. I want to see you live your best life and be successful and find love and find peace and find happiness. If I can help someone else just feel a little bit more seen, heard, and understood, and find their way to healing, then I think it’s all been worth it.
His message to the LGBTQ community this Pride season is clear:
You are valuable, you are important, you are worthy, you are deserving, you are loved, and there is nothing wrong with you. We hear a lot of people saying awful things about our community. But I also want to highlight that word, community. We do better when we are unified. And unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are looking to get rid of the “T” in our community, and that’s not okay. I can’t imagine what transgender people are going through right now. As a person who experienced such visceral homophobia and hate throughout my entire life to this day, we have to remember what that’s like so that we have the empathy and the fire to stand with our brothers, sisters, and non-binary family members in this fight because it is a fight. And while we may never see true equality or peace, we have to fight so that it doesn’t get worse.
You can find everything Barrett at his website, ArtisanandKing.com[Photos courtesy of Barrett Pall]
Last modified: August 1, 2023