The model and content creator reflects on his journey of coming out later in life, how pride month is a time for reflection, and on finding the right support systems.
When I first met Liam Labrooy, he was a quiet young teen with long dark hair swept over his face. He donned a uniform of sorts to every high school party: a plain black t-shirt, jeans, and white sneakers. He was shy and reserved — absolutely nothing like the exuberant character he is today.
In an exclusive interview with LIFESTYLE.INQ, the well-traveled 25-year-old opens up about his journey as a member of the queer community. Candidly, he recounts his liberating experience of coming out, painting a vibrant picture of self-discovery and self-expression through fashion, ultimately claiming the courage to be true to himself.
A Multicultural Childhood
While Liam calls Manila his home, he doesn’t have a drop of Filipino blood in him. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, his mother is British while his father is Asian-European. Yet the whole family keeps Australian passports, making Liam Australian by default.
At two months old, Liam and his family planted their roots in Boracay, as his parents worked to help build the early days of the island’s hospitality and restaurant industry. Liam fondly recalls his time on the island and says that whenever the clan comes back for the holidays, “It always feels like home. When I walk around the island, people stop me and say they remember me as a child.” From one island to the next, they moved to a beach in Thailand called Koh Samui for a year but rushed back to their home in the Philippines. Later on, Liam went to study at campuses in Los Angeles and Switzerland, returning to the City of Angels for his college years.
At Pepperdine University in Malibu, Liam took up a Major in Public Relations. It was here that his world started to shift. Apart from the growing pains of learning to live alone and maintain his own home (and car), he juggled two internships with global organizations. It was a life-changing time of discovering his deeper self in a city where nobody knew he was. “I was able to create a new identity in a way,” he says,
“My time in L.A. allowed me to discover my roots. I started going to gay bars (shoutout to WeHo) and learned more about queer culture. This was the time in my life when I was fully focused on myself and my goals, so it ended up being the perfect time for me to come out.”
How Liam Came Out With Color
While grateful for the support of people around him, it took a while before he could admit his sexuality to himself. When certain thoughts would arise, Liam would ignore the instinct or pretend it never happened. Before Liam told people he was gay, he already knew that everybody knew. However, it wasn’t a smooth journey stepping out of the shadows. He contemplates, “One thing I find that people forget to talk about during their coming out journeys is the internal aspect to it.” So Liam came out bit by bit — always online, and never in real life.
“I started slowly messaging my closest friends. Once I would send the ‘I am gay’ message, I would throw my phone to the other side of the room and just not check it for a while. Whenever I was on vacation, that’s when I tended to message people, because then I wouldn’t have to deal with them in person.”
It was a process. Yet as Liam came out, the response was overall positive. Through a mix of both support and figuring out his own emotions, Liam began to embrace his truth.
Once Liam came out, you could spot his new looks from a mile away. Gone were the days of black t-shirts and jeans (unless it was for a model casting). He started buzz-cutting his hair so there was no room to hide, occasionally dying it in a different color. He’s already gone blonde, blue, green, purple, and pink.
As he began to play around with color, Liam began to experiment with colored-coordinated looks. A fan of textures, layering, and accessories, he says, “For the longest time, I used to be afraid of handbags. I found them to be very feminine and I thought that wearing a bag was going to ‘out me’ in a way.” Now it’s unlikely you’ll catch Liam without a tote, whether it be his Bottega or his go-to black Shoppee handbag on a night out.
While Liam takes inspiration from personalities in the fashion scene like Fai Khadra, Evan Mock, Marc Forne, Manu Rios, Kit Price, and Andrea Faccio to name a few, he tries not to take too much inspiration. “They all have their style, and I’m not trying to copy them in any shape or form. What I love most about them is that their authentically themselves. I think it’s always good to get inspired by the people around you or the people you see online, but I always try to put my spin on things.”
It’s come to a point where Liam’s style choices have become his go-to mode of expression of something uniquely his, reliant on both his mood and his vibe of the day. He declares, “I wear what I want when I want to.”
On Pride and Personal Reflection
For some, Pride Month is a time of raising awareness through discussions, for others, it is a time of parades and celebration. For Liam, “Pride month is a time of reflection.”
“I love all the parties and the celebrations that come with it, but I take time to internalize and think about what I love and how I can continue doing it. It’s giving ‘New Year, New Me.’”
While Liam’s energy is light and carefree, he reflects on the difficulties he encounters in local culture. He shares that when he opens up, he sometimes gets the comment, “Sayang naman” (what a pity) when people realize his sexual orientation. Still, he rises above and remains unfazed, ignoring these types of comments. “It took some time, but I am very happy being my true authentic self. I love being gay. I don’t think I would be the person I am today if I didn’t come out. I wouldn’t dress the way I do, I wouldn’t be working in the field I am in today, and I wouldn’t be surrounded by the people who are in my life.”
For this month of pride, as Liam plans for the year ahead, he reflects that as he gets more comfortable in himself, the possibilities are endless. “Do I want to be a model forever? Probably not. Influencer? Nah,” he says, “I just don’t want to stop creating and doing what I love. I’m ready for the unexpected.”
Through colorful hair, bold fashion choices, and a refusal to conform, Liam expresses his individuality and finds strength in being true to himself. He keeps circling back to acknowledge the people who have supported him throughout his coming-out journey. As we part, he emphasizes the importance of finding your community, even if it means expanding one’s circle beyond familiar faces, “I am very grateful that I dealt with more internal issues as I came out, and that I had a good support system around me, although I know that it is not always the case for everyone —
“Nowadays, you can always find someone to support you. You just need to find them. If you happen to be reading this and need someone to talk to, my DMs are always open.”
Both outspoken and comfortable in his authentic self, Liam Labrooy motivates others to embrace their unique identity. With gratitude for the people who have supported him, he’s now set on paying it forward, with as much vivacity and color as he can muster.