Karamo Brown preached from a doctrine of social work and psychotherapy Sunday morning, making the L.A. Times Festival of Books panel his call-and-response church.
Although he is a familiar face from “The Real World” among other reality-TV shows, Brown is best known as one of the Fab Five from Netflix’s revamped “Queer Eye.” He is the show’s culture expert, using his mental health expertise to home in on the issues of the people featured in each episode — often resulting in heart-to-heart talks, tears and life-lasting revelations. His mission is to talk about mental health the same way physical health is openly and widely discussed.
Brown, 38, appropriately picked out an L.A. Dodgers hat and a white bomber jacket with blue-striped collar and cuffs out of his seemingly endless supply (as shown in a video on Twitter). He walked onto the stage with Times staff writer Yvonne Villarreal and an aluminum Coke can — a key drink of choice that helped him write “Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope” in two months during the filming of “Queer Eye’s” third season.
The book is a mix of advice for readers on ways to get through challenges and an introspective look at his own life, including drug addiction, colorism, domestic violence and overcoming fears.
Brown doesn’t journal. He takes notes on his emotions. “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical,” he said and asked the audience to repeat it out loud to the person sitting next to them.
When Villarreal asked about what it takes to be so transparent in his memoir, Brown described his childhood. He grew up in a household in which the idea “what happens in this house, stays in this house” was reinforced. He feared other people judging him and his family on issues at home. He said choices made from fear stunt personal growth.
“Turn to your neighbor and say, ‘Neighbor, don’t make fear-based decisions, make love-based decisions,’” instructed Brown.
As he was answering another question, he stopped mid-sentence to say “Bless you” after an audience member sneezed, drawing a unanimous sigh of awe from the crowd.
The last affirmation of the day is one he repeats often to others.
“Every single one of you is perfectly designed. What I mean by that — every part of who you are is perfect just the way it is. And if you are on a journey to change something about you because you want to, understand that it’s part of the perfect design as well,” Brown said. “The thing I love most about the perfect design is that you have the ability to ask for help so you could create the life you want.”
At the end of the discussion, the audience shouted in unison, “Neighbor, I am perfectly designed.”