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Exclusive Interview with SiriusXM Radio Host Fez Whatley on Finally Coming “Out”
You can hear Fez Whatley daily on the Ron & Fez show on SiriusXM from 11am to 3pm est on XM 105 Sirius 206.
After years of struggling with his sexual identity, Radio host Fez Whatley came out as gay on the Ron and Fez Show today. This announcement came after spending the last 20 years playing a gay character on-air, while insisting to friends, family, and even himself that he was straight. In an exclusive interview with The Interrobang Fez talked with us about his struggle. Here, in his own words, is what he had to say:
I couldn’t have been more excited decades ago when I got my first big break in radio. I became a part of the hugely popular “Ron & Ron Show” in Florida. Working with my friend Ron Bennington, we created an on-air persona for me. His name was Fez Whatley. Fez was eccentric, over the top, flambouyant and most of all, gay. Really gay. Fez took down celebrities, talked gossip, lampooned women and did it all with a wicked gay tongue. I could say it was the part I was born to play, but back then I didn’t realize how true that was.
At this point in my adult life, I was sure I wasn’t gay. Even though, I hadn’t dated, didn’t show any interest in women and had never had sex or even made out with girl. My thoughts on that were that I had just not found the right girl yet. And when I did find her, there would be no question about my sexuality.
As you can suspect, taking on the role of gay person, meant questions came up. As the character grew in popularity, fans of the show would ask me if I was really gay? My response, “Yes, 6 to 10am weekdays,” the hours our show was on. That was my little joke just to make sure everyone knew that there was a straight guy behind the feather boa and sequined jacket. As Fez, the gay jokes and sexual innuendo came fast and very easy. As long as everyone was laughing along I was fine.
Fast forward some years. Ron Bennington and I are still working together. We put together the “Ron & Fez Show” and have been heard in New York, Washington, DC and now on SiriusXM. All along the way, I kept playing Fez as gay as ever. One other thing stayed the same too. That “right girl” I was sure was on her way, still hadn’t shown up. And I had developed some intense friendships with straight guys. These were actually high school like crushes. Then I realized, I was just like the character I had created. I’m gay.
Coming to this realization was devastating. After all those years of denying it, it was true. Fez Whatley was no longer a character that I played on the air. He was me. And now it wasn’t funny anymore. I was now everything that I had joked about. I got depressed. I became severley anxious and couldn’t perform any longer. I’ve had huge bouts of stage fright, panic and locking up on the air. And most of all, I couldn’t make myself be Fez Whatley anymore. The whole dynamic changed for me. I was terrified about being really gay. To me, that meant that people were no longer going to be laughing with me. They were going to be laughing at me. On the show, I quit acting like Fez. I quit talking like Fez. I quit being Fez because now I didn’t have a clever line if someone came to me and asked “Are you really gay?”
The anxiety and depression and emotion became too much. I was seeing psychiatrists and taking anti-depressants that made me even more unmanageable. I couldn’t keep it in anymore. And one night, through tears, I told my best friend Ron Bennington. The acceptance that I knew would be there, was there 10 times over. But I was still dealing with the shame. So much shame and guilt of growing up in a religious family and thinking this was wrong. It felt like there were too many years of denial to embrace this now.
On the show, I started talking about gay issues. Gay marriage, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, bullying. But from a place of anger, not understanding. And with only one person knowing I was gay, certainly not from a point of authenticity. I was still calling myself Fez Whatley, but the fun was gone. All that was there was a really angry closet case. This had to change.
There are too many important issues out there facing Gay Americans for me to just be yelling out the occasional protest from the closet. I see comedians like Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, Mo Rocca and most recently Todd Glass, and they haven’t lost their sense of humor. They’re entertaining and still make a difference in the gay community.
Organizations like GLAAD and the Trevor Project are working so hard to protect LGTB youth from dangerous situations with bullying and from endangering themselves. To talk about these things, I need to be honest about who I am.
Today I’m coming out. To everyone. I can’t be a part of “It’s gets better” until I make sure things are going to get better for me. And that’s what I intend on doing. So that the next time I’m asked by a someone, “Are you really gay?” I can finally answer, “24 hours a day.”
I just listened to the replay of the "coming out" show and the strength in your voice Fez was palpable. There was no hesitation or wavering, you were an absolute powerhouse!
I'm so proud for you! Stay strong brother, you've got thousands of friends and fans who love ya!
Fez, there is no doubt in my mind, that you are and will always be perfect just the way you are. I'm proud of you. Listening to you along your journey has at times been heart breaking but also inspiring... because you've proven that no matter what challenges life puts before you, there is still a way to find yourself. And while I'm sure challenges still lie ahead... never forget you are loved by so m any. I love you budday. I mean that. To the future my friend.
We are so happy that you have found your true self and that you now accept yourself! Be proud of you, your listeners sure are!
1092 posts here Fez. Does that tell you how much you are loved in our community? I certainly hope so and I further hope that your admission truly "sets you free" so that you can live life as it is supposed to be lived, to the fullest.
Wow. Finally. I am so happy for you Fez! I wish you all the best and am glad you have that pressure off of you. I can't imagine holding that in for that long. You are loved.
Fez, the mature and intelligent fans of your show (unfortunately after listening to most of the calls since you've come out, I'm wondering how many there actually are) support you to a degree that you probably do not understand. The long grueling lack of your wit on the show was extremely depressing. I am happy that you do in fact have a good friend in Ron and others. What you went through and what you did would be easy for no one. I am straight as an arrow, but I can tell you that the smile on my face and relief and joy for you was immeasurable on Friday. We're all proud of you, buddy! Just be yourself. "Fez Whatley" may have been invented as a character, but you are at the heart of that loveable bastard. I wish you luck in your endeavours and maybe very soon you will find someone that will make you very happy! Here's to Ron & Fez who--after some time--ARE BACK! Cheers!
Sorry to be late to the game but was finally able to hear the show last night at work. Congrats, Fezzie. It was great to hear the energy back and the relief in your voice that you finally got this out in the open. I had a friend who went through this 10 years ago and it was not easy. He has been happy ever since and I wish the same for you.
From a fellow semi-closeted gay man, congrats Fezzie. Love ya, It takes a lot of balls to come out to millions of people. You brought tears to my eyes Friday.
Fezzie I've listened since the early NEW days. It's been a long time coming, so glaad for you. You are back my friend. Thank you.
Congrats Fez, I am so happy for you and wish you all the love and success that you deserve. My face hasn't stopped hurting from smiling so much on Friday. I can't wait to get back on the road and hear your voice.
Congratulations Fezzie!! My wife and I are incredibly happy for you, and we hope that a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. The courage that you showed will guide the way for others to follow your lead, which should make you incredibly proud!Bravo, my radio buddy!
GOOD FOR YOU FEZZZ!! LOVE YA BUDDY! YOURE THE BEST! CONGRATULATIONS! YOU DID IT! IM SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!! BEST OF LUCK FROM HERE ON IN!! BELIEVED IN YOU FROM DAY ONE! Been a listener for over 10 years- Rooting for you EVERY day!! I cried Friday- It was amazing to hear....I might be gay now. Thanks Hahahahaaa LOVE YOU FEZ! Zito is a piece of shit. I fuckin HATE that kid.
The only problem I have with the gays is... They're gay! Ick. lol j/k Fez whatever makes you happy is fine by me. On a side note, could Ron find a bigger yes man than hicks? ESD is more entertaining than hicks and zito together.
go fez, go fez, it's your birthday, its your birthday, not really, its your dads death day, but its your gay day, its your gay day, go fez, go fez. :) :) :) love u fezzie
Fantastic, Fez! Just did a statewide head count. Full up on steers down here. A little light on gay men. Come visit anytime.
I think that the show should put together a "Boys Only Gay Bar Crawl for Fezzie" to get him out and trying new stuff. He should definitely be striking while the iron is hot. As a straight guy in the South (Yes that is possible) I'm as proud as hell of Fez; and I hope he can keep all of that other bullshit in his life in perspective and start living now.
First of all, I'm glad for Fez and hope he knows his happiness and health is the most important thing here.
but . . . .
 I hope the show can get back to movies, music, politics and literature discussions, but where does Fez fit into that?
 I am in a very small minority of people who love listening to Ron, but do not enjoy Fez's contributions. Not an insult, I just don't find him interesting or funny. I actually enjoy the show more the less he is involved, so as a fan, I'm a bit worried... I know Ron would say fuck off and don't listen, but their is too much I like about the show other than Fez to do that...
 It will be horribly interesting to see what Fez is like on air 3 months from now. If I had to bet, probably back to three months ago...
Well thats my useless negative post....
@Fishwhipper Not only holding it in, but being "Forced" to maintain a character about something that other people were not aware of... Imagine that....
@doppeljr Why are you so obsessed with the the taste of cum? Why hate on Fez on an R&F website? How many times have you posted about the same thing? What is wrong with you?
@Ray from Winnipeg If you know you are a negative cunt, then why bother to post you fuckin asshole? Listen and comment to Canadian shows. Have you gone through this thread? Do you even realize you are in less than 1% territory? And yes, Ron would tell you to fuck off, FuckStick. The fact that you know that, and yet you still post, Ray from Shitpeg, should be enough to keep you off this forum. If you are such a fan of Ron's why would you shit on his best friend? And fuck you too TyWanon.... Ron brings you everything. Mark Zito? If you're such a fan, go to Hits 1. This is a R&F site stupid.
As an outside New Yorker-- I appreciate the Honesty-- I am a huge Ron Fan......Fez used to bring something to the table, lets see if he comes back...but the ron, pepper, and zito show isnt bad ( i miss east side dave)
Anyway, other than the cunts fucks and shits, I think I actually agree with you. Time to let my Audible account expire and stop listening, it's been a tough ride since ESD left, and this seems as good a time as any to move on. Thanks for the tough love MANMAN.
Sorry--did i miss the 3 year group hug? I only have one problem with Gay people---they are sooo Judgemental. They say accept me accept me, but I will Judge you!
@TyWanon You mean you have a parade for overweight guys that like to have sex with women???!!! Awesome!
@TyWanon Yet.... no parade....
@TyWanon I'm great! I'm straight!