Nick Vallejo didn’t immediately feel better when he came out. Instead, he began questioning everything about himself, from his appearance to his faith. It was the darkest time of his life.
Six years ago, Vallejo was just at the start of his gay journey. He quit swimming at the University of Hawaii and moved back home to Southern California. Above all else, he needed a reset, spending the semester surfing in the Pacific and working as a lifeguard for the Los Angeles County Fire Dept.
With the support of family and close friends, Vallejo started to view life in a different way. He embarked on previously unimaginable activities, such as attending Coachella or galavanting around West Hollywood. Each new adventure brought him more confidence. Now, Vallejo wants to show himself off.
He started his own OnlyFans page last month.
“I just felt the most important thing for me to do was own myself,” Vallejo told me on this week’s episode of the Outsports podcast “The Sports Kiki.” “And I don’t know, maybe my future man can see that and be like, ‘Oh, this guy is hot. He’s confident. He knows what he likes. Come find me.’”
Vallejo shared his coming out story with Outsports in 2017. In it, he describes his tortured relationship with his sexuality. Coming from a religious Christian background, Vallejo originally suppressed his attraction to guys. He even got a tattoo on his right arm to prove he would devote himself to a pure life.
But soon, Vallejo’s pure life turned into a double life, and it was torturing him inside. Googling expeditions into the words “gay” and “homosexuality” only added to his ever-growing anxiety. He read stories about kids coming out, and then being abandoned and disowned.
For much of Vallejo’s life, swimming served as a way to channel his emotions, but when he transferred from his local community college to University of Hawaii at Manoa, that was no longer the case.
“I stopped swimming at the university because I felt a piece of me dying,” Vallejo wrote. “I felt as if I didn’t belong in the swimming pool anymore.”
Increasingly, Vallejo started to find solace in the ocean. Surfing allows Vallejo to enjoy himself, and after years of self-torment, he’s putting an emphasis on feeling good.
That brings us back to OnlyFans. It’s another place where Vallejo can be his authentic self.
“In my perspective, I don’t have enough sexy,” Vallejo said. “So I was just like, ‘Well, OnlyFans would be a great place to launch.’ Like, ‘Hey, this is my bedroom, or ‘this is where I am in life right now. This is what I look like.’ It’s not staged and planned. It’s all going with my flow of my timeline.”
There are now more than 1 million content creators on OnlyFans, up from 120,000 in 2019. Earlier this year, I spoke with Chance Wheeler, another gay former college athlete, who says OnlyFans allows him to feel confident in his body.
Much like Vallejo, he came from a more conservative upbringing, and doesn’t want to hide his proclivities anymore.
“I have kinks, and I love them,” Wheeler said. “Like me being sexual, it was just a part of me that I had to accept, and learn. I don’t think nudity is bad. I think it’s a wonderful thing.”
Vallejo agrees, and doesn’t think enough people are willing to blend creativity with promiscuity. He views his OnlyFans page as another part of his artistic portfolio.
“If you own yourself and create yourself and project yourself into the world, people will buy that,” he said. “I don’t feel like there’s enough of that.”
And, as an undergraduate student in Santa Cruz, Calif., it wouldn’t hurt if Vallejo could use OnlyFans to connect with other attractive surfers, either. In the time of COVID-19, we need community more than ever
“I would love to see more creative, hot surfers doing OnlyFans,” Vallejo said. “Why not?”
Click here to check out this episode of our Outsports podcast, The Sports Kiki. You can also subscribe to the show on Apple’s Podcast page as well as on Google Podcasts, and wherever you’ll find Outsports podcasts.
Correction: Nick Vallejo is an undergraduate student in Santa Cruz, Calif. A previous version said he is a graduate student.