An insightful, candid, and inspiring memoir from Karamo Brown - Queer Eye’s beloved culture expert - as he shares his story for the first time, exploring how the challenges in his own life have allowed him to forever transform the lives of those in need.
When Karamo Brown first auditioned for the casting directors of Netflix’s Queer Eye, he knew he wouldn’t win the role of culture expert by discussing art and theatre. Instead he decided to redefine what “culture” could—and should—mean for the show. He took a risk and declared, “I am culture.”
Karamo believes that culture is so much more than art museums and the ballet - it’s how people feel about themselves and others, how they relate to the world around them, and how their shared labels, burdens, and experiences affect their daily lives in ways both subtle and profound. Seen through this lens, Karamo is culture: his family is Jamaican and Cuban; he was raised in the American South in predominantly white neighbourhoods and attended an HBCU (Historically Black College/University); he was trained as a social worker and psychotherapist; he overcame personal issues of colourism, physical and emotional abuse, alcohol and drug addiction, and public infamy; he is a proud and dedicated gay single father of two boys, one biological and the other adopted. It is by discussing deep subjects like these, he feels, that the makeovers on the show can attain their full, lasting meaning. Styling your hair and getting new clothes and furniture are important, but it’s also important that you work out why you haven’t done so in twenty years - doing that can truly change your life.
In this eye-opening and moving memoir, Karamo reflects on his lifelong education. It comprises every adversity he has overcome, as well as the lessons he has learned along the way. It is only by exploring our difficulties and having the hard conversations - with ourselves and one another - that we are able to adjust our mindsets, heal emotionally, and move forward to live our best lives.
Karamo shows us the way.
In this often passionate, insightful memoir, Brown, known for his reality TV roles on The Real World and Queer Eye, shines a revealing light on addiction, race, and desire. Born in 1980 in Houston, Tex., he was the only son of a Jamaican-Cuban immigrant family and proud of his Rastafarian father, who gave him the Swahili name Karamo, meaning "educated rebel." Sometimes the name caused Brown embarrassment, but it fostered an inner strength in grade school, he writes, and as an undergraduate at Florida A&M, a historically black college. His pioneering appearance as the first openly gay black man on MTV's The Real World put all of his flaws on view, and led him to confront his drug use, excessive partying, drinking, and depression. Brown's role as Queer Eye's fiery culture expert allowed him to comment openly about racism and sexual stereotypes as he found happiness as the single father of two boys and, later, in a committed relationship. "We must find ways to move the needle on success and love," Brown notes in the clear-eyed writing and encouraging tone that permeates his narrative. This is a powerful story of a young, gay black man's fight to gain self-empowerment and healing.