For Johnny Skandros, it really got better. After spending his preteen Summerlin years being relentlessly bullied, he befriended some popular girls at Palo Verde High School and found the confidence to come out.
He graduated from USC and moved to New York City, where he decided to create a social app for guys like him—and to make a difference within the gay community. So he briefly moved back in with his mom and started Scruff, a popular gay dating app favored by, well, scruffier men and their admirers. The 3-year-old bootstrapped venture, which Skandros (who goes by the name Johnny Scruff online) started with business partner Eric Silverberg, uses GPS technology to enable men to find other men nearby—or on the other side of the globe.
Skandros is now back in Hell’s Kitchen, but he hasn’t forgotten his Vegas roots, which he shared in a recent chat.
I was born and raised in Las Vegas in a single-mom household. My mom is an elementary school teacher. Prior to that she was a violinist for Wayne Newton, and my dad was his drummer. That's how they met. Unfortunately, they separated when I was young, and my mother raised me. My mom and her mother (my grandmother) still live in Vegas. I have an amazing supportive family who I love very much.
I think back in the early ’90s, when I was in elementary and junior high and high school, times were different. There wasn’t a lot of gay visibility back then. Homophobia was more prevalent. Las Vegas was especially tough because it was a very religious community, which I don’t think a lot of people realize. I just had a difficult time, especially in junior high, and the beginning parts of high school. People were not accepting. I was severely, severely bullied—junior high was the most difficult time of my life, in terms of bullying. Unfortunately, Vegas did not have a very driving gay scene, like LA and New York City.
Around 10th grade, I met a girl from New York City, Misha, who was pretty popular … and because she was popular, that helped other people, in a sense, like me. And shortly after, a group of girls from New York City moved here, and this one girl, Vanessa, she became friends with Misha and me right away. Shortly thereafter, being able to think about my identity and my sexuality and having someone like Misha and Vanessa there, who loved me—my first really good friends—I was able to come out.
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Posted By: WAKEUP |
9/17/13 2:43 PM
It is monumental that every bullied kid has at least one friend to turn to that understands what they are going though and accepts them. If you ever see a kid at school that doesnt you should step up and be their friend