A new year is here! We are back from our family vacation and excited to share with you new episodes of the What's Underneath Project, as we march forward towards changing how we celebrate style, beauty, and our ourselves. First up is our "pet" DJ/music producer/pop critic/writer, and my * Elisa's * style icon, Louis Mandelbaum (aka DJ Louie XIV). He is our treasured son and brother, whose wit never fails to make us laugh when we want to cry. We both agree that he's the most insightful, loyal, and stimulating friend we could ever have.
On the stool, Louis courageously articulates his painful odyssey about embracing his identity as a gay man. In 9th grade, Louis was ecstatic to show up to school in his tight Diesel jeans (the “epitome of style” for him at the time) only to be met by a barrage of slurs from homophobic straight guys who taunted him from that day forward. “I worked really hard on not being gay, including having a long-term girlfriend and sleeping with her," Louis recalls. "Letting that go was the best thing ever. I abandoned a lot of my passions and interests as a kid because I needed to clear space to focus on my cover.”
In high school, Louis officially came out, but didn’t kiss or have sex with a man for four years afterwards. “I felt like I couldn’t handle life as a gay man,” he says. As a way to deal with his anxiety, Louis turned into a compulsive eater, and didn’t TRULY figure out who we was until he lost the 80 pounds that he packed on. We love how Louis' story shows that coming out doesn’t always lead to immediate liberation and that you can discover your passions so much easier once you stop trying to conform to the status quo that surrounds you. Today, he gets to be the role model that he didn't have, and we couldn't be more proud of him! To hear Louis' journey from in the closet and overeating to a healthy and free soul, watch his episode above.
With warm and love,
Elisa + Lily