On Wednesday night, the American Influencer Awards helped shine a spotlight on the LGBTQIA+ community by supporting and honoring people who make a difference through their professional and personal contributions. One of this year’s honorees is Ravi Roth, a trans guy who launched The Best Man Project, a global men’s initiative dedicated to promoting “manhood through gender expression through fashion.” Amongst the LGBTQIA+ men who attended the event were Caitlyn Jenner, Andy Cohen, Tracee Ellis Ross, Giuliana Rancic, Angela Bassett, Andy Cohen, Jaime King, Priyanka Chopra, and singer John Legend. Watch the photo and video highlights from the event below, and continue reading to learn more about Ravi and what makes him so unique.
Hello! Magazine: When did you first know you were different?
Ravi Roth: I started identifying as transgender when I was around 16 years old, around the time I was having sex change operations. I wanted to be a boy and was old enough and brave enough to choose. After I transitioned and starting living my life as a trans man, I never wanted to be someone else – that wasn’t me. I wanted to be known as Ravi.
MO: What was it like being an out trans man in a world where many men still didn’t accept you and were wary of a gender identity that was beyond female and male?
R: It was difficult and had a lot of people saying things like, “Be careful, Ravi, it’s not safe.” And “You shouldn’t be so open.” I kept telling them I was fine, but when it comes to trans men, we’re either too willing to assimilate into feminine habits or we dress this way so that everyone thinks we’re comfortable. There are always people who will see transgender men and want to pick on us.
MO: How did you feel when Caitlyn Jenner came out as trans – did you have any idea she was going to be so influential in the trans community?
R: I’m a very big fan of hers. When she came out, I saw someone who truly did it for the right reasons. She didn’t care about the fame, attention or money – she did it because she felt it was the right thing to do.
MO: What is your life like now?
R: I’m living my dreams! I got married a couple years ago, and now I’m starting to own my own business. It’s truly a dream come true.
MO: What does being gay mean to you?
R: Being gay is a personal thing. For me, being gay is owning who I am and my preferences. Some people are attracted to men and women, some like one or the other, and that’s just how I am. I think that being gay is about internalizing yourself. And honestly, to me it’s like anything else – you’re gonna do what you wanna do and there’s nothing wrong with it.
MO: With so many trans people in our current political climate, what kind of effect do you think this country could be facing in the near future?
R: With the current trans movement that’s happening right now, the reality is that once someone is accepted, then the majority are going to embrace them. The next movement is on gender identity, which is an important movement for everybody, regardless of race, gender, sexuality or anything else. We have to just move forward and let them do their thing and we will walk by.
MO: You’re the founder of The Best Man Project – what inspired you to start a movement for men to have more masculine appearances?
R: I used to work for Victoria’s Secret and I didn’t like the way we dressed, and what they wanted us to wear. I would go with my friends to different stores and ask for what I wanted, and they would have it, but they’d put it on backwards. So I decided that if they had masculine clothes for me to wear, why not put my two cents in?
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