“There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.”
This week’s portrait, Bobby Glorioso, certainly knows the value of Branden’s words. Not long ago, he was facing self-esteem issues and addiction. With the help of an old friend, he managed to turn things around. In just a short time, Bobby G. has risen from a low point to a new outlook where he is, as he says, “sitting on top of the world.”
PGN: Your last name sounds like a Harry Potter spell: Glory-o-so! What’s the origin?
BG: It does sound like something Hermione would say. It’s Sicilian. My mom is Pennsylvania Dutch/German.
PGN: Do you have siblings?
BG: Two older sisters, God help them. I was such a momma’s boy. Always got my way. They will tell you that in a minute. But it was like having three mothers.
PGN: You must have been like a doll come to life for them.
BG: Oh yeah, they used to love dressing me up. They’d do my hair and makeup and get ready to take me to the grocery store. I thought it was hilarious but my father would be like, “Uh, no. That is not happening.”
PGN: And what did the parents do?
BG: My father was in code enforcement in Montgomery County, so he’d go out and inspect buildings. My mom was an EMT. Most of the family was either firefighters or EMTs.
PGN: How did you escape that legacy? It usually stretches for generations.
BG: I heard about it all the time at the kitchen table until I was totally disinterested.
PGN: I speak to a lot of late bloomers in the community, but you were an early bud.
BG: Yes, I’ve known since I was seven and I came out to my mother, the first time, at 13. I told her I was bisexual. She responded, “How do you even know what that is?” At the time, I was going to a program called “Youthquest,” which was a Christian-based program out of the YMCA. I met other kids who were like me, and so I wanted to talk about it to my mother. My mom’s always been my best friend. She cried at first, and then within two weeks she was asking me questions and we became even closer than ever.
PGN: What was an early sign you were gay?
BG: Anne Marie, who I work for now, was a family friend. She still talks about the fact that I’d go into her house at 10 years old and give her advice about the curtains. Later on she’d say, “I couldn’t believe that no one else realized you were gay.”
PGN: And Dad?
BG: I don’t know why but I was so afraid of his reaction that I did not tell him until I was 17. When I did, I called him and said, “Dad, I need to talk to you… it’s about preference.” He said, “In clothes?” And I said, “You know it’s not about clothes.” So he rushed over, and I was bawling my eyes out. He said, “What’s going on?” I told him I was gay. He said, “You’re going to make me cry.” Then he said, “It’s OK. I’m behind you 200 percent.” It’s not what I was expecting. Thank God I told him before he passed away. I’ll treasure that forever.
PGN: People will surprise you sometimes.
BG: I appreciate that I had it so easy. One of the first guys I dated ended up in the hospital when he told his family. His dad and sister put him there and my mom and I had to pick him up. I’m grateful to God for the family I have.
PGN: Where did you go to college?
BG: I went to Montgomery County Community College for two years. I wanted to be a teacher. But I never followed through with it. I got mixed up in some things I shouldn’t have. I was still figuring out who I was and where I wanted to be. I got into the party life at college. I became spiritually broken and there was a long period where I questioned my value at every turn. Not so much because of being gay, but not being where I thought I should be in life — comparing myself to others like my sister who had a good job and husband and an actual white-picket fence.
PGN: What helped you turn it around?
BG: I’d been trying to do it on my own, but finally had to put my ego away and get help. I got into a 12-step program that helped me realize that I had to stop playing the victim and learn to value my abilities and myself. That was six years ago.
PGN: I understand you just celebrated another milestone?
BG: My husband Richard and I just celebrated our one-year anniversary on May 6.
PGN: What drew you to him?
BG: His looks. We were at a meeting and I saw him across the room and thought, I have to meet this guy. It was an LGBT meeting and he was really nervous because he wasn’t fully out yet. He was so anxious his stomach was rumbling, so after the meeting I said, “Could you eat something next time? I could hardly hear people speaking.” That broke the ice and we exchanged numbers. He may not have called me for three days, but we’ll talk about that later.
PGN: Well, he put a ring on it, so something went right. The past few years have graced you with a lot. A husband and a new job with an old friend, for example.
BG: Oh yes. I’ve known Anne Marie since I was a kid. Whenever my dad would say, “Hey, do you want to go to Anne Marie’s?” I was always like, “Yessss!” And lucky for me, my mom ran into her just when I was looking for a job and she was looking for an assistant. It’s not something I ever thought I’d do, but my new attitude let me open up to trying new things. I ended up loving it. Anne Marie became a mentor who showed me not to be afraid and taught me to trust my abilities and myself.
PGN: What do you think she saw in you that allowed you to make the jump from assistant to COO in four years?
BG: I can be quirky and have fun, but can tone it down and be serious when the time comes. Working as Anne Marie’s assistant, I already had my hands in all the different departments because I was working alongside her every day. I also got to be a liaison between her and the clients as well as her and the various departments. I love the personal aspect of working with people.
PGN: You’ve come a long way personally in the past six years. What’s the hardest part of rehab? I’ve heard people quitting cigarettes tend to gain weight. What are the side issues you’ve had to deal with?
BG: Weight gain is a big part of that too, and it’s hard when the gay community can be very focused on body image. Even as a kid entering the community, I thought I had to be skinny with blond hair. But the hardest part of recovery for me was feeling that I was missing out, because a) I’m nosy and b) I like to be in the mix at all times. I also worried that I would lose my identity, that I wouldn’t be the same fun, crazy guy if I were sober. Turns out I’m even more fun now.
PGN: You’re half-German, half-Italian. Was it pasta and sauce at home or schnitzels?
BG: My mom’s the German one and my dad can’t cook, so it was meat and potatoes all the time.
PGN: Your company is one of the sponsors of the Mazzoni Gala, Metamorphosis, on May 19.
BG: It’s their big fundraiser, formerly called Elixir. I learned about Mazzoni from doing the AIDS Walks since way back when. When I lived in the city, Mazzoni was my primary health-care provider. We really want to support all the work they do. I especially love the adolescent drop-in clinic where young people can get free medical services on Wednesdays from 5-7 p.m.
PGN: Are you going be on the dance floor?
BG: Girl, are you kidding? They’ll have to drag me off.
PGN: What’s your favorite saying?
BG: “Let go, let God.” I tend to want to control everything, so I find myself saying it on a daily basis and it works. n