Los Angeles based blogger Lester “Newnue” Matthews is an internet sensation with followers around the country. In 2008 he founded Yo Boi Newnue (YBN) Entertainment, a production company which produces his highly popular web series on You Tube. YBN has recently produced music video industry for up and coming independent artist Damien Crawford and Tatum. Newnue travels the country to attend club and black gay pride events and gives the low-down on his show. PrideIndex talked with Newnue about his family, coming out and what’s next.
PRIDEINDEX: You grew up in a large family, the son of preacher man. Share with us your growing up story.
NEWNUE: My growing up story was just like that of every other pastor’s kid where you had to sit in the pulpit and hear your father talking about how he’d disciplined you. It was the most embarrassing thing about being a preacher’s kid, but it’s also the most rewarding because that harsh discipline helped me to become the successful man that I am today.
PRIDEINDEX: What is your relationship with your family today?
NEWNUE: I am the eldest son, the bread winner in my family. I have to be a role model and show my siblings how it’s supposed to be. I have three gay sisters and when you go to the club it’s like a family reunion. (LAUGHS) It’s kind of crazy but it’s better to have three other gay siblings because it opens up a whole new sense of acceptance in the family. It helped my mother and grandmother to understand and accept us and love us for who we were.
PRIDEINDEX: Tell us the circumstances that lead to the founding of your web series and YBN Entertainment.
NEWNUE: I started YBN Entertainment in 2008 while I was laid off from my job and I had a lot more time on my hands. I started recording my everyday life. At the time I started recording I noticed that we did not have many shows online that had good representations of how black gay men should live. Everywhere I went, to pride events, clubs, vacations or my experience at home would be recorded and edited together like a television show. It branched off into segments such as my one on one interviews.
PRIDEINDEX: In one of your webisodes you share your coming out story. Why do you believe that it was important to share with your audience?
NEWNUE: It’s more important for people to just come out in their own time. I was in the closet up until my sister outed me because she was gay, and wanted to take the pressure off her. (LAUGHS) I shared the whole story in one of my shows it was long ago. I believe it not easy for black men to come out. My message is you don’t have to come out unless the time is right for you. You don’t have to accept what society tells you about coming so if you are 45 years old and have yet to come out or whatever; you must do what’s best for you.
PRIDEINDEX: What advice would you offer to youth who want to come out to their family but are afraid to?
NEWNUE: Just like I’d said in the last question; you must do what’s best for you. If you are afraid then maybe you’re not ready to come out. You cannot let friends, family or society tells you when to come out; it’s not anyone else’s place. If you want to get your career together like Don Lemon or come out first as DL, then do that. DL does not mean that you have to be a bisexual; it does not mean that you have to sleep around either.
PRIDEINDEX: You’re a handsome, intelligent black gay man (Meow). Are you dating right now?
NEWNUE: I am currently “dinner dating.” I want to focus on my career because I am far behind where I’d like to be professionally. I prefer to keep blogging and interviewing celebrities and focus on work, dinner dates are fine.
PRIDEINDEX: What kind of guys are you attracted to?
NEWNUE: I do not have a specific type. I don’t discriminate with height, weight, age and so forth; it goes beyond looks too. I like guys with a good sense of humor. I was recently talking to a female friend, she said what really turns her on is a woman who could take care of her. My friend doesn’t even have a job, but she wanted a woman to take care of her! My advice to my friend was that you have to come at least 50-50 in a relationship and have your own shit together before looking for someone else. Talking to her made me realize I do will be with someone who is focused, confident and at the very least has their own shit somewhat together.
PRIDEINDEX: You have traveled to different cities and interviewed many personalities. What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
NEWNUE: While in Houston a big burly guy came up and grabbed me out of the blue. I am a big guy and this guy was at least three times my size! He told me that he’d driven 40 minutes just to meet me because he’d saw a tweet saying that I was in town. Two of my craziest but fun interviews were with Diamond Styles and Tiffany Pollard. Diamond Styles is an African American transsexual woman, her interview was fun and very informative; I learned a lot. Recently I had my dream interview with Tiffany Pollard. She is just as crazy off camera as she was on camera.
PRIDEINDEX: What do you like most about what you do?
NEWNUE: I love traveling and hosting pride events, meeting new people and receiving emails messages from people all around over the world. (I love the haters, negative comments and criticisms too because they help.)
PRIDEINDEX: For a while you sported a Bohemian chic look (IE thick uncut hair, ala Negro Sampson sex appeal.) Why did you cut your hair?
NEWNUE: When I moved to LA I thought it was time to for a new look, I needed a fresh new look and it was hot as hell in Los Angeles so I cut my hair. It had been three years since I’d had a haircut and the time was right. I heard folks saying “Newnue cut his hair!” I loved the attention.
PRIDEINDEX: What do you like to do when you’re not traveling, blogging or creating content for your website?
NEWNUE: I love hiking up to Malibu Beach, having a cocktail and hanging with my friends. Somehow when I’m hanging out with friends I end up on my computer editing something so I really cannot get away. I also like playing a drinking version of the card game UNO. And I like to travel.
PRIDEINDEX: What is your ultimate goal for YBN Entertainment?
NEWNUE: My ultimate goal for YBN Entertainment to reach outside the black gay community. My friend B. Scott and I were having dinner in New York and he told me to reach beyond the black gay community. B. Scott said there’s a whole new world out there beyond the black gay community and I should not be limited. I am not going to turn away from the black gay community, but if I am going to make it to the mainstream I will have to reach out to all audiences around the world of the LGBT community all audiences no matter what race or age. My ultimate goal is to break down barriers and go into other areas. I want to make YBN a blog site that’s’ updated every hour. It will cover people who are into politics, entertainment and beyond.