Wesley Hamilton’s clear vision for his potential impact took away the nerves while in front of cameras for Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” he said.
“Me being able to get on a show with that type of exposure and spread my message to those within my community and outside of it… I’m just really excited for the opportunity,” said Hamilton, founder and executive director of Kansas City-based nonprofit Disabled But Not Really (DBNR). “I was OK with the personal questions because I feel like my story can heal a lot of wounds. That gave me the ability to have the strength to be as open as I could be because I want to leave my print on this world.”
Click here to read more about DBNR’s recent partnership with a local Crossfit affiliate to build the first all-inclusive gym space.
The reality TV makeover show — its fourth season streams beginning Friday, July 19 — targets more than cosmetic changes, giving Hamilton his first haircut in the seven years since he was shot and wheelchair-bound — as well as the chance to speak to the man who fired the gun and put him there, he said.
“If I had to say what the biggest takeaway on the show was … it was [speaking to the shooter],” he said. “I got put in a position to do something that’s never really been done in my community.”
Click here to read more about Wesley Hamilton’s journey and inspiration for founding Disabled But Not Really.
Though Hamilton — now a founder, adaptive athlete and community advocate — had previously made videos and spoken about finally achieving a place of forgiveness, opening a dialogue with the man who was the trigger for his pain became an act bigger than himself, he added.
“Anyone can say that they forgive somebody. It’s more powerful when you say that to their face,” Hamilton said. “It just became bigger than me. I knew that this forgiveness thing wasn’t for myself anymore and I knew that this was the opportunity to empower my community and show the world that as a black man, we can forgive and we don’t have to constantly live this life of hate versus hate.”
Click here to read about The Distrikc, an entrepreneur-led community outreach effort co-founded by Hamilton.
“Being able to forgive someone that did change my life forever, but to see the benefit of that change — where I could sit in front of him and not look for an apology but leave that conversation saying, ‘Thank you for giving me the best life that I ever had,’ — that was the most powerful thing I think I’ve ever done,” he added.
Keep reading after the trailer for “Queer Eye” Season 4.
Part of the conversation involved Hamilton taking responsibility for his actions as well, he said, which allowed for mutual respect between the two.
“I went into the conversation knowing my faults, which gave him the opportunity to speak his truth on the situation itself,” Hamilton said. “I think we both left not really looking for an apology from one another, but acknowledging the growth that each of us have received from this situation that changed both of our lives.”
The season overall is packed with impactful messages besides his own, teased Hamilton.
“Alongside the other heroes on this season, I think the world is going to see some powerful stories and I love that mine had the opportunity to be a part of it,” he said.
The show’s spotlight on Kansas City alone is particularly moving, he added, referencing the Netflix show’s two seasons shot in the City of Fountains in 2018.
“The exposure to the growth in our community is a great thing and it just shows people outside of Kansas City the potential that we do have and all the amazing movers and shakers that are trying to bring about innovation to the city,” Hamilton said.
Disabled But Not Really is playing host to a Saturday watch party at Kansas City Power & Light District to celebrate the release of the season and allow viewers to engage with DBNR, he added.
Click here to learn more about the July 20 event.