As a fashion stylist to the stars, Brad Goreski has become a celebrity in his own right. But life didn’t always look so bright for him, as he has since revealed. When Goreski opened up about his time at high school, for instance, he would reveal the heartbreaking truth about his teenage years.
Goreski has left the trauma of school well behind him, though. After graduating from the University of Southern California, he got his start in the fashion industry as an assistant at Vogue magazine – a publication he’d loved since childhood. Goreski then went on to work as a celebrity stylist for stars including Jessica Alba, Kaley Cuoco and Demi Moore. In 2008, however, it would be his turn to step into the spotlight.
That’s because that year saw Goreski take a starring role on Bravo’s The Rachel Zoe Project, where he appeared as Zoe’s style director. In 2010, though, he unexpectedly quit his job and left the show. Then he landed a spin-off series, It’s A Brad, Brad World, which ran from 2012 to 2013.
But although Goreski has had huge success within the fashion world, things haven’t always been easy for the star, who grew up in the town of Port Perry in Ontario, Canada. Indeed, in January 2012 the stylist would reveal just what had happened to him when he had been a young man.
In an essay for the Canadian version of Elle, Goreski said that his parents had encouraged him to play soccer as a child. He had “hated sports” himself, however, and ultimately gave soccer up. And Goreski revealed that this had probably been disappointing to his father, who had wished his son was more athletic.
“Every week [my father] hoped I would get better, but that never happened,” the fashion guru shared. “It must have been hard for him. He didn’t get the kid who wanted to play hockey – he got the kid who wanted to make dresses in the basement with his mom.”
Goreski had also attended R.H. Cornish Public School in Port Perry, and he recalled the time that he had danced and lip-synced to Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” during the third grade while wearing his mother’s dress. But he still didn’t think of himself as different at that period.
“It never occurred to me that this was unconventional behavior for a nine-year-old boy,” Goreski explained in his essay for Elle. However, he added, “Looking back, all the signs were there: I was short, chubby, bucktoothed and effeminate. I played with Barbies, I sang in the choir, I hung out with girls and I loved fashion.”
Furthermore, Goreski was already interested in designer fashion at that time. And while he knew what his passion was, not everybody was happy with it. In his piece for Elle, he explained that he had been bullied every day for the things that he liked – and, ultimately, because he was gay.
“Not a day went by when someone didn’t call me a name,” Goreski recalled. “On the school bus, in class, in the hallways – it happened all the time. After hearing ‘f*g’ on numerous occasions, I got up the nerve to ask my mother what [that word meant].”
Goreski’s mom told him, however, that the word was British slang for a cigarette. “It was kind of her, but I had my suspicions that it had something to do with liking boys,” the stylist added. “The taunts were hurtful, but what I hated most was that people knew information about me that I wasn’t ready to share just yet.”
Still, the mocking only got worse. And Goreski divulged that his “biggest fear came true” in the fifth grade, when he was approached by three bullies. “‘Hey, f**got!’ one of them said. ‘There’s no one here to protect you,’ said another. He ripped the toque off my head and threw it in the snow,” the stylist remembered.
Fortunately, the school’s vice-principal came upon the scene and intervened. Goreski also revealed that the boys in question were suspended from the school, and they didn’t bother him for some time after that. Now, he is hoping to use his experiences to help others.
“I can’t imagine what it’s like for kids today,” Goreski told Elle. “Back then, there was no internet, texting or cyber-bullying. When I went home, I knew I was safe.” In a bid to help others, then, Goreski decided to get involved in The Trevor Project – a not-for-profit organization that aims to curtail suicide among young people within the LGBTQ community.
As part of his work for The Trevor Project, Goreski chatted to a child named Josh who had experienced bullying online and gave him some advice. “I went through the same thing; it really does get better, and you don’t have to own this,” the star tweeted to the boy.
And it appears that Goreski’s message was greatly appreciated by Josh. “Thanks so much – it means a lot to hear from you,” he wrote back. Goreski added to Elle, “It’s hard coming out, and it’s hard being a target of discrimination.”
Soon after Goreski had opened up about his experiences of bullying, he also released his first book, Born to Be Brad. In the memoir, he further discussed his difficult times at school and his struggles with alcohol and cocaine. Goreski has continued to support anti-bullying efforts, too, through his work with the Stomp Out Bullying campaign.
And the star’s career has since gone from strength to strength. In 2015 Goreski became a co-host on the E! series Fashion Police, in which he appeared until the show’s end in 2017. His personal life appears settled, too, as in 2017 he married his partner of 16 years, Will & Grace producer Gary Janetti.
Still, Goreski continues to discuss his own experiences of bullying. On National Coming Out Day in October 2018, he shared a photo from high school on Instagram and described how he would eat in the stairwells because he was terrified of being beaten up. “This photo makes me happy though, because this is me,” he added. “It’s around this time I came out of the closet. And my life finally began.”
And commenters thanked Goreski for speaking out about his past. One person wrote in response to the post, for instance, “Thank you for sharing this. It’s a reminder that every day we need to teach our kids to be loving, kind and inclusive… and most of all support them as they are!” Meanwhile, another added, “Such an inspiring story. You’re an example to everyone.”