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Jack Mackenroth Lets It All Out

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mackrothjh.jpg
Jack Mackenroth needs no introduction, we’re sure.

We all know the designer from Project Runway. We all know he left the Bravo reality show after developing a antibiotic resistant staph infection, but bounced back like a champ. And, of course, we all know he looks good naked.

We bet there’s plenty you don’t know about handsome Mackenroth. For example, do you know how many siblings he has? Do you know what went down when he found out he’s HIV positive? Why doesn’t he talk to his father? What’s his next step? These questions and many more will be answered in this installment of The Home Issue!

(PS: Mackenroth appeared on NBC Nightly News last night to talk about MRSA. The video’s after the jump – on page three, to be exact.)

Andrew Belonsky: Hey Jack, how are you? What’s happening?

Jack Mackenroth: You know, just email and crap all day today. How are you?

AB: I’m good. As I mentioned to you, we’re currently in the midst of The Home Issue, so tell me: what is home to you?

JM: I recently – well, two years ago this February I bought an apartment in Harlem. That was a huge goal of mine, because buying in New York City alone is a huge hurdle and I just love it. Physically that is home to me and I feel really at home here. On a broader spectrum: New York is home to me. My family lives in Seattle, but I’ve chosen to live here. I’ve chosen my new gay family. [Laughs] I’ve had the same friends for fifteen, sixteen years – I think that’s what makes a home: having people who care about you around you. I love my family dearly, but Seattle just never – I never felt [right].

AB: Was coming to New York essential to your coming out?

JM: No, I came out during my freshman year in college. I went to Berkeley before I moved to New York to come to Parsons. I love Berkeley and San Francisco’s an amazing city, but I’ve always wanted to move to New York ever since I can remember.

AB: How was coming out for you?

JM: Um, it was okay. I didn’t have a horror story that a lot of people have. I was at Berkeley and I had all these images of people doing their own thing. As soon as I left home, I kind of experimented with everything and had a couple girlfriends for brief periods of times. I just knew that it wasn’t right for me. So I got a fake id and I started going to the bars in San Francisco. As soon as I walked into The Stud, I saw two guys dancing together and I was like, “Okay, this is what it’s supposed to be”. Shortly after that I started telling my friends and then the summer I came home after my freshman year, I told my mom.

AB: And?

JM: She’s very liberal, but she just – surprisingly, if had seen me as a child, you would think she would have expected it – but she was kind of shocked. I was like, “Oh, come on, lady! I was wearing your nightgowns when I was five!” But, you know, it’s suburban Seattle back in the early 80’s – there weren’t a lot of – gay men were hairdressers and florists. There was no real imagery. There was nothing for her to compare, so she was really kind of surprised. Of course she gave me the whole “I love you, anyway” speech and we hugged. And then I didn’t really talk about it for a year: just giving her time – I didn’t push it in her face and I just lived my life, went back to school. And my mom didn’t talk about it, either. I guess – I don’t know what happened in that one year interim, but she must have read some books because now she’s a member of PFLAG, she’s been to parades and she sends me pictures of her with leather queens! She’s the best mom you could have.

AB: What about your father?

JM: My father is not really in my life. My parents divorced when I was eight and I kind of never got along with him. I don’t know if it’s because we didn’t have a lot in common. I’m not going to bad mouth him, but he just is not very present. He wasn’t abusive necessarily in the sense that he was aggressively abusive, but he just wasn’t a very present father figure. So, when I was thirteen, the court said I could decide if I wanted to keep – we had forced visitation up until that point – and I decided that was enough for me. I’ve never had the conversation with him. I know that he knows that I’m gay, but he’s never talked to me about it or not. I don’t know if he cares or not, so I just don’t really think about it.

AB: You mentioned your siblings – where do you fall in there?

JM: I’m the oldest of three. I have a younger sister who’s in the middle and my brother’s thirty-three.

AB: Did you like being the oldest child?

JM: Yeah! Well, you know, it was weird because my mother was a single mother. She was very, very strict. I think she felt the need to control where we were at all times, so I had swimming and soccer and piano lessons. My whole day was filled with activities so she could basically control us. Even as a senior in high school, my curfew was 11pm. I always so jealous because as it went down the line of siblings, my mother got more lenient. By the time my brother came around, she was like, “Whatever, see you tomorrow.” I was always sneaking out and lying because she was so strict!

AB: Did you ever get caught?

JM: You know, it’s funny – she’s going to kill me when she sees this – she caught me twice. One time I had forgotten to put the seat – she’s a little woman, she’s 5’2” and I’m six feet – I got so good at sneaking out that I would take the car – which was underneath her bedroom window – put it in neutral and roll it out into the street and then start it and drive away. I would come back at five in the morning, park it and sneak back into my house to go to bed. One time I forgot to put the seat back and she went out to go to work and came to my bedroom – I had just fallen asleep – and she was like, “Where were you last night don’t lie to me!?” I told her I was out dancing! She was like, “How did you think you could get away with this?” Meanwhile, I had been doing it for six months!

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By:           Andrew Belonksy
On:           Dec 20, 2007
Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • 12 Comments
    • naprem
      naprem

      While it’s definitely great that Jack can put a face on the fact that living with HIV is possible and not an automatic death sentence, I do worry that it shouldn’t go so far as to say that having HIV is a good thing.

      Thankfully Jack does make that distinction in this interview, but unfortunately it’s a horrible irony that healthy long-term non-progressive HIV+ individuals are actually contributing to the idea that catching HIV is no big deal, which is leading to the still-rising infection rate.

      Dec 20, 2007 at 5:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dean Orlosky
      Dean Orlosky

      It’s spelled Berkeley.

      Dec 20, 2007 at 8:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rowen
      Rowen

      We’re supposed to care about him, why? And, oh, good lord, he wants to write a book.

      Dec 20, 2007 at 11:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tim
      Tim

      Jack is a great guy. Good Luck buddy in whatever you do…you are an ispiration.

      Dec 21, 2007 at 12:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tim
      Tim

      inspiration

      Dec 21, 2007 at 12:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kelly
      Kelly

      I loved Jack on the show and really hope he returns next season.

      Dec 21, 2007 at 12:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jake
      Jake

      Just another cute gay guy who’s WAY to queenie!!!

      Dec 21, 2007 at 9:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jbran
      jbran

      Jake- to each his own dude. Why do you need to put someone down?

      Dec 21, 2007 at 11:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • KB
      KB

      I really dig Jack for being his own person and showing us his personality and sharing his life via Project Runway, and after. He is a quiet warrior. Go, Jack! And I love the way he carried around “Pocket Gay” Cristian when he was on the show. Obviously, the other designers enjoyed him very much.

      Dec 21, 2007 at 9:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Adam
      Adam

      Jack is a brilliant person, I know because I am his younger brother. I just wanted to clear something up… My curfew was midnight! Great interview! PS- Jake is a tool, Rowen..you too.

      Dec 22, 2007 at 10:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John
      John

      But is Jack still dating mega hunk Dale? Now there’s some pics I’d like to see! =>

      Jan 2, 2008 at 7:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daryn Lewis
      Daryn Lewis

      I give Jack his honnor for being himself.His gay and HIV positive.Well I’m gay and dont know how to break free.Its so easy to criticise other people for who they are but still gays cannot hide the way in which they act so yeah,His my role model even though His HIV+,He will remain who He is and I will remain who I am.

      Jun 5, 2011 at 11:26 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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