DJ Tracy Young is an earnest, charming, driven and talented woman who, at thirty nine, has already put in two plus decades in the music industry and has an impressively long list of accomplishments. One of the few female superstars in the highly competitive and male dominated music industry, she is, in no particular order, an internationally known DJ (whom Madonna hired to DJ her own wedding in Scotland); the owner of a record label (Ferosh Records), through which she worked with such artists as Christina Aguilera, Stevie Nicks, Chaka Khan, and Cyndi Lauper; and an out lesbian who has devoted both professional and personal time to various LGBT causes. Most recently, Young became a tabloid star, as a result of her purported liaison with Kim Zolciak, the big haired blonde star of Bravo reality show The Real Housewives of Atlanta. The two met in 2009, while working on the remix for Kim’s hit "Tardy for the Party."
The story about Tracy and Kim broke on March 1, 2010, when US Magazine posted an item on its blog entitled "Real Housewives’ Kim Zolciak Steps Out With Girlfriend," declaring "Forget Big Poppa," Kim’s never-seen-on-screen and purportedly married longtime boyfriend. Kim, US Magazine claimed, had stepped out to a Miami party with her "new love of three months, DJ Tracy Young."
With that, the media floodgates broke open and soon the "Kim and Tracy" item was all over the tabloid and the mainstream press. In response, Kim went on Bravo TV and vehemently denied that she and Tracy were an item. The press, however, continued to print rumors about the duo. On March 24, Kim gave an interview to Life and Style entitled "Real Housewives of Atlanta Star: ‘Yes, I’m Bisexual’," saying "I don’t lie. I’m not embarrassed by anything I’ve ever done in my life. But I wasn’t ready to discuss it when the story broke." At least indirectly, Kim confirmed that she and Tracy were indeed a couple, discussing the "chemistry" between them: "There were sparks, but [physically] it was a gradual situation. Tracy made the first move. Our first kiss was passionate and exciting."
With this exclusive GO interview, Young broke her silence and talked all things Kim, as well as exploring other areas of her life and work. And all just a week before news of their break-up surfaced. For that, and other details, buckle your seatbelts, readers, as you’re in for quite a ride.
GO: Let’s start with why you decided to talk to a specifically lesbian magazine like GO – what message would you like to get out to GO readers?
TY: I am very concerned that younger gay people who may already be having a difficult time with their identity or with how they are treated are bombarded with messages of shame or disapproval about homosexuality from some mainstream and tabloid media outlets, and this in turn affects their self esteem and overall happiness. I want to help and inspire younger gay people to become comfortable with their decisions, with how they choose to lead their lives. I want to get the message out that there are gay people in this world and that being gay isn’t a choice or a sentence for a lifetime of unhappiness.
I speak about this from personal experience. I was outed to my family against my will. The whole experience was very hard for me. I didn’t get a chance to tell my family in my own time and at first they took it badly. Now, they’re great. But it took them a while.
GO: You mentioned that one reason you were eager to talk to GO was to "set the record straight” about you and Kim and to address some of the snarkier coverage which has implied that your relationship is a publicity stunt. What do you have to say to cynics out there who still doubt the authenticity of your relationship with Kim?
TY: Simply put, I don’t think that anybody would use [being gay] as a publicity stunt. [she laughs.] This isn’t an easy lifestyle. There aren’t exactly that many straight people out there pretending to gay, especially among people in the public eye. And Kim has children. What woman would choose to fall in love with another woman at a time and in a world where it’s still not fully accepted, when there can be discrimination and at times major consequences, especially within families? I don’t want to and I can’t speak for her; she’s her own person. But I will say that I think she’s brave and amazing.
GO: Do you care to say how long you two have been dating and/or if you’re an official couple?
TY: Not really – that’s kind of private. It’s funny: even though I’m out and I’ve been out for a while, I tend to be a pretty private person in some ways, and so does Kim. But I can tell you that I met Kim in December 2009, in a purely professional context. To our mutual surprise, we bonded intensely during our work together. We became very very close and we quickly connected on a very emotional level. Despite our differences we had, and have, a lot of things in common. We were both going through breakups at the time, and we bonded over that aspect and had lots of deep conversations. It so happened that the breakup I was going through was with a woman, and hers was with a man. When I met her she was a straight woman. And it went where it went. It is what it is. She’s an incredible woman.
GO: Speaking of media portrayals, do you have any comments to make in response to the item on Radar online today claiming that Kim is still seeing Big Poppa in addition to you?
TY: It says she’s with Big Poppa?? That’s certainly the first I’ve heard of that. I’ve been flying coast to coast all day today. I haven’t read it.
GO: It says that Kim is "juggling" you both and is purportedly "confused" about what to do.
TY: Like I said, I haven’t even read it so I can’t comment on that particular story. I can’t speak for what Kim feels emotionally, for what’s in her heart.
GO: When the news first broke, Kim denied that there was a sexual or romantic component to what she termed your "friendship". And, while you didn’t flat out deny the stories, you did tend to hedge or be really vague in response to press queries on the subject. Any comments for confused GO readers as to why Kim initially denied the relationship, or what you as an out gay woman thought of this denial?
TY: I’ve been out and my family has known about me for 25 years. But she has a private life. She has children, not adult children either, and a family. I wanted to respect her privacy – especially knowing what I went through when I was outed. That’s all I’ll say.
GO: How has it been to read purported intimate details of your private life in the press? What’s it like to be tabloid fodder?
TY: It [the tabloid media storm] kind of brings me back to how unaccepting the world still is in terms of what kind of things you have to be careful of, being gay. It kind of caused a lot of feelings of vulnerability about being gay that I had from long, long ago to resurface. It’s hard to explain. I have never ever been in this sort of situation before. I think few people have. I don’t watch the show. I didn’t know anything about Kim before meeting her. I met a person in a hotel room [in LA, during negotiations on the remix]. I met somebody quite amazing. One never knows what the future holds, but I do know for certain is that no matter what happens, we’ll absolutely at a minimum remain friends. I also want to stress how much I respect and applaud her. She didn’t have to do what she did [in coming out]. She took a risk.
GO: Shifting to your career for a second, you are a very successful DJ and musician with a worldwide following. You have, at times, used your professional standing to help advance issues within the gay community. Can you discuss this briefly?
TY: I’ve been out in this community for a long, long time and I have used my position over the years to support a variety of causes, including LGBT causes. For instance, I have DJed a lot for GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and worked the [Miami] White Party, an HIV/AIDS charity, for many years. I’ve also donated my time to non-LGBT causes, particularly animal rights and breast cancer funding; I’ve lost several loved ones to breast cancer, so that one is especially close to my heart. I strongly believe in charity and in giving back, both within and outside of the lesbian and gay community.
GO: You’re about to relocate to New York after living for several years in Miami and also recently for a short time in Los Angeles. What brings you to New York?
TY: I’m an East Coast girl at heart and to be frank, I just want live in a city that I love. New York makes me happy. It’s where my friends are at, where my support system is. And even though in certain ways it makes sense for me to say in LA, especially considering the industry I’m in and some potential television projects I’m involved in, at this point in my life my happiness with where I live is more important than other concerns. I was always a bit disoriented In LA.
GO: You mentioned something about "potential TV projects." Can you tell me what some of those are?
TY: I’d rather not, at least not in explicit detail. I can say that I’m filming a TV pilot. It’s a show based on female DJs for shall we say an undisclosed TV network. We’ll see where it goes. That’s all I should say right now.
GO: Can you talk about what sort of musical projects you working on, short term?
TY: Sure. I’m about to start work on an original album of my own. It will be very hip hop r& b influenced, which is really my thing, but it will also take some from dance music, kind of in homage to [DJ & dance musician] David Guetta.
GO: I’m afraid that both her fans and my readers may kill me if I don’t ask you a few more quick Kim-related questions. Ready?
TY: [deep breath]. I’ll try. Let me see if I can answer them. OK, shoot.
GO: OK, here goes: Have you met any of the other Atlanta Real Housewives?
TY: I met one of them. I’m met Kandi [Burruss, one of Zolciak’s co-stars on "Real Housewives of Atlanta."]
GO: Have you ever met Big Poppa?
TY: Ummm, can I consult with someone before I answer that?
TY: [yells to someone on her end]: Honey, can I answer this?? [then I hear muffled female voices; after a few seconds, she comes back to the phone]. Sorry, I can’t answer that one.
GO: Can you tell us whether Kim had gotten any feedback about the news regarding the two of you from any of the other housewives?
TY: I can’t speak for Kim but I can say that I’ve witnessed some amazing crazy strong support for Kim. I’ll leave it at that.
GO: OK, the tabloid round is over. In closing, do you have any final thoughts or words for our GO readers?
TY: Yes I do have some, actually. Just be yourselves, go forward and live and love to your fullest.
This interview with Tracy Young was conducted on March 31, 2010. Just one day later, Tracy did an interview for a radio program called "The Big Tigger Morning Show" during which she mentioned that as of that morning she and Kim were no longer speaking.
GO Magazine reached Tracy later that same day to ask for a clarification on their status. Here is what she had to say about her relationship with Kim in response to our inquiry about how to take her radio show comments on the Kim question: "When I initially did the interview with you [GO Magazine], Kim & I were on very good terms. In fact, we were in LA together. Then a few days later things shifted. This has always since the start been a very back and forth, up and down kind of relationship. At the exact moment, it’s kind of down. But who knows what will happen tomorrow."