On August 3rd, E! will debut the second season of "Rich Kids of Beverly Hills,” a reality series focusing on a group of twenty-something millionaires and billionaires in 90210, perhaps the world's most famous zip code. The show has proven popular with audiences, consistently pulling in an average of one million viewers per episode.
"Rich Kids" though has been criticized for promoting materialism and for flaunting wealth that hasn't been earned, yet cast member Jonny Drubel is proving himself to be more than just a shallow member of the idle rich club.
When asked by one interviewer how much his family was worth, Drubel, 25, said “I'm too classy to say.”
Speaking to SFGN by phone, Drubel spoke eloquently about his love for his Jewish heritage, his commitment to family, and of "Coming Out Matters” — his pet project. "Coming Out Matters" is an online space where LGBT people, along with friends and family, can share their personal stories. The idea is to make LGBT youth feel supported and safe. The openly gay rich kid knows how important it is for LGBT youth to experience the kind of acceptance he got from his own family. Drubel launched the site in partnership with "Students Moving America", a non-profit which "empowers students to take action.”
"I was lucky that my parents were tree-huggers, hippies," Drubel said. "They told me they loved me, supported me, and asked me who I was dating."
The young man wasn't so lucky in school. He was, at that time, 350 pounds, and was bullied relentlessly. "It was really bad," he said. "Words do hurt you. I didn't tell my parents about it, I was ashamed that I couldn't stand up for myself. A lot of gay kids don't tell their parents."
Drubel objects to the common usage of the word bullying in popular culture, pointing out to cast members of the "Real Housewives" series bandying the word about over every minor disagreement.
"No! You're taking away from the word," he said. He pointed out that coming from wealth isn't a shield. "If kids want to bully you, they will. Some of it's torture."
Drubel today is a slimmed down, soft-spoken young man who's using his wealth and new found fame for the greater LGBT good. He pointed to the recent "It Gets Better Project” in which people from all walks of life shared stories of bullying from their pasts, assuring kids not to worry, that things would get better.
"What happens until it gets better?" Drubel asks. "How about an online community where people can share those stories?" He refers to "Coming Out Matters" as "my baby" and reports that his partners at "Students Moving America" help promote equality in schools.
"We have a long way to go," he mused. "We have to make sure kids are safe. Kids in Kentucky, for example, can come to our site, share their stories, and hear stories they can relate to. So far we have 15,000 submissions, mostly videos. That's 350 hours of content. Every single submission tells a story."
The "Coming Out Matters" site features a link titled "How It Works", which offers easy instructions on making a submission through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or You Tube. The "Live Stories" option allows visitors to hear the stories of others.
Drubel said that he'll be talking about his own experiences of having been bullied on the second season of "Rich Kids of Beverly Hills.” Look for it on E! starting August 3.