Anyone who's watched Queer Eye knows that the Fab Five has a knack for getting people to open up. And that fact truly frightened season 4 hero Brandonn Mixon. "Being vulnerable in the military gets you killed," the 28-year-old veteran tells Refinery29 over the phone. "So me being vulnerable and opening up, I was deathly scared."
Yet, he faced his fears and talked about what it was like to be medically discharged after suffering a traumatic brain injury. "When I got out of the military I felt like I got left behind, that I got abandoned." he says. And he knows there are others in the armed forces who have felt this way, too, but haven't been able to say it out loud. "I’m really hoping that they see from my episode that I’m going through this and that I asked for help," Mixon says. "I literally did this knowing I could change one of my brother or sister’s lives. If I can stop them from thinking they’re alone, it has been worth it 110 percent."
As co-founder of the Veterans Community Project, which builds tiny homes for homeless vets, Mixon has dedicated himself to serving those who serve. The nonprofit has already built 26 houses in Kansas City, with plans to build 23 more by Veterans Day. The VCP's goal is to expand to eight cities by 2022. "Literally, there’s a lot of our brothers and sisters dying on the street and we owe it to them to be able to expand and really change and impact their life," he says of the project, which is privately funded and open to all veterans. "We believe in helping any individual that walks in our doors: disabled, non-disabled, honorably discharged, dishonorably discharged. It’s our goal to serve those who served us and we don’t care who you are."
As passionate as Mixon is about the VCP, he says Queer Eye helped him re-dedicate himself to his wife and three kids. "The episode allowed me to break down my barriers and say, 'I do have an amazing family, I need to spend time with them,'" Mixon explains. Now, he's eating dinner with them every night and coaching their T-ball team. And yes, he's trying to get all three to sleep in their own beds. "They put the hardwood floors in my bedroom, and that’s helped a little bit of forcing those guys out," he admits.
Mixon thanks the Queer Eye guys for helping him make these changes in his life, specifically Tan, who he connected with in a moment that didn't make it to air. "Him and I are in the closet and he told me, 'I was really not wanting to do this episode because I’m Middle Eastern' and that really caught me off guard," Mixon says. "But it made me right off the bat respect the shit out of him. For him to be vulnerable enough to say that, to open up to me as a soldier and to be willing to take me in was amazing."
Mixon didn't mind Tan's wardrobe choices for him either. "I feel sexy now," he says, "I feel like I’m a good looking dude and I can go out there and just kill it." But, he does wish that he could have just a little more time with the style guru. "I didn’t get as many summer clothes so my summer selection has been a little more scarce," Mixon jokes, "so if Tan could come back and help me with that, that would be amazing."