*Trigger Warning: This article discusses sexual assault.
Bradley King is a gender-nonconforming Cannabis coach, mental health advocate, and actor who experienced the despairs of life from a very young age. He rose above the many miseries that came across him and influenced him to become the hardworking activist and family man he is.
Growing up in Arizona, King had an overall quite typical family, with a very good, steady household. Christian belief, usual home with a masculine father, as he calls it, and a very loving mother. He started to notice his sexuality when he was about 11 years old. He realized his attraction to boys when, around the same age, his younger brother also came out to his family about his sexual orientation.
The response was not very positive, especially from King’s father. He was trying to get his younger son to be that masculine gay boy, not accepting the “feminine features that we have,” as King declares. This affected King and got him to go in another direction, the straight route as he described it. He tried making his own choice about his sexuality, which led him to lose his way in drugs and alcohol from a very young age.
King realized he had been depressed when he was only 16 years old, “I was numbing myself out.” He explained how he was going through various quite difficult emotions to handle for a child.
He had a simple yearning to feel taken care of because “I’m just feeling all sorts of craziness in my house, and I wanted to go to a safe place.” Being there, King lost his way and reached an adrift phase where he got caught up with people who abused, drugged, and raped him. However, this lost phase of his was not much help, given that King was forced to entertain a group of eight men, unable to “leave until they were done.”
Finally leaving this horrendous situation, King had a mental breakdown in his car and decided to be honest with his family. It wasn’t until actually arriving home and witnessing them argue, not specifically on anything particularly relating to him, his brother, or the idea of being gay. Everything weighed on him to pile everything in, step away, and leave all the pain he’s been going through unshared.
At the time, he was at an inner war. He could neither reach out nor seek help from people who were good for him. This placed King in another heart-shattering scenario, where he was violated and mistreated. He was forced against his will, drugged, and taken advantage of; “he threw a couple of 20-dollar bills on me for some gas and to keep my mouth shut.”
The next thing was King having another mental breakdown and feeling like, “I should just drive my car into the side of the highway.” King, in fact, hit rock bottom around two months after that, when he got caught by the police smoking at 3 a.m. His parents searched his room, who could not believe what he had turned into; even he could not.
He enrolled in rehab on May 29, 2007. His goal was to stay sober, and he accomplished it as someone sober for seven and a half years. This experience was crucial for him to grow and care for himself and his mental health. He moved in with a girl he was dating, thus, still deciding to be straight. He eventually became honest about imagining men while he was with women.
Only then did he start to see a therapist and feel so safe there, feeling as if his therapist “was my guardian angel.” That’s when he had the courage and decided to start a new journey. He came out to his parents and discovered their acceptance of the actual Bradley King.
He tried to deal with his life then and there, being openly gay, even at his AA meetings. Right about that time, he met his now-husband online, started to get to know him, and decided to meet a few days later; “I genuinely believe we kind of had this love at first sight.” King’s now partner helped him realize how unhappy he was, and that was something that he had noticed in King while still being there for him and loving him for who he was.
Nearly letting loose again after being newly married, King needed to step up and engage in the household, given the vast amounts of responsibilities awaiting both he and his husband, after deciding to adopt their kid within three months of getting married. That change inspired King to leave the AA and draw a life he was comfortable with. He was determined to be fully committed as a good husband and raise his son. In his mind, he needed to dive into his brain and decide what he needed to feel okay with every day. After trying a high dosage of pharmaceutical medicine, a friend of King’s suggested he try medical marijuana. He educated him on the benefits and how it’s helpful, not just for the high life.
Deciding to experiment with it, King quickly noticed the benefits, given the little time it took to help his anxiety and honestly calm him down. He started to regularly use Cannabis. While researching more in-depth content on mental health and Cannabis, King had this urge to help or do something. Because with all the research, there was only a small number of parents he could relate to or found to be as open as he wished them to be about the matter.
He transformed his Instagram account and started to show more about himself there, his Cannabis usage, and his mental health journey. Moving to California with his family to support his son’s acting debut, Bradley did not have much time to stay active on social media. His mother, herself being a nurse and thus well-educated on the matter, proposed that Bradley would become a Cannabis coach. And that was it. He researched, changed his content, and started going more in-depth on social media regarding Cannabis, mental health, and medication.
“My sole intention has always been to spread a message of hope on social media.”
Things started to get bigger for King over time; his content also started to change more. By the time he and his family left California, he had half a million followers. At this point in his life, after doing everything, he started to feel the void again in his life. There was a ghost he could not show that he was gay, even while married. After moving out of California and into Georgia, the next Hollywood as King teasingly described it, things started to pick up again for him and his family.
He then started acting too and got in touch with Jay Jackson, known as ‘Laganja Estranga,’ who was also going through a transitional phase in her life. She helped King process and understand himself differently, like how he was missing something similar. He wanted to wear makeup and have his nails done, wear feminine clothes, and feel empowered by it. He loved the confidence boost that came after. He identifies himself as gender nonconforming and still uses he, him, his pronouns.
Social media started pushing him toward more gender-nonconforming people, which motivated him to be more creative. It also drove him to explore more of the community, learn from them, and be there for them. He wanted to represent them as well as being their shelter or simply the person they find comfort with, where they can let loose without judgment.
King sees and acknowledges how hard it is to not be able to be yourself and feel threatened. He shared how people from all over the world don’t have the same experiences or the privilege of choice as we do. King declares when talking about a documentary he’d been working on that’s supposed to be released in 2022. “You think about those people who can’t even be themselves and would probably be seriously harmed by doing it.”
King’s message has always been about providing hope, he states, and that he is really grateful to be the voice of many who feel inspired by him. Concerning the documentary, he was introduced to this world by Matt Meredith, who contacted him at the end of 2020, suggesting that he tells his story as a documented piece through him. Filming so many exciting things, as he eagerly shares, King states that the documentary is now in post-production.
Ending the interview, King wants people to know that it is possible for vulnerability to not be a scary thing. He hopes people will understand it is possible to live an amazing life despite having to navigate several barriers. He is living an extraordinary life as a parent and husband despite the many challenging moments he countered throughout his life. It is all about how you take care of yourself and if you are treating yourself appropriately. Vulnerability is, in fact, a good thing if treated with caution.
King shared he does online coaching consultations, and while he provides multiple sessions, he emphasizes how important he thinks a one-time session is. It can be very beneficial to just reach out once and talk to find a way to live happily through all circumstances that might bring a person down. Learn more about Bradley King on social media.