My 600-Lb. Life viewers are sending love to John and Lonnie Hambrick as they embarked on a weight loss journey that could save both of their lives during Wednesday's Season 8 premiere. As the brothers took their first steps toward getting healthy, Lonnie opened up about how others' response to his sexuality made his life very difficult from a young age.
"By the time I was 8, I was over 200 pounds and Lonnie wasn't too far behind me," John explained of their childhood, saying that they "both started to look to food even more for that happy and safe feeling" after their mother remarried.
"Our stepdad gave me all kinds of hell because I was always different," Lonnie recalled, explaining that after he came out as gay to their mother as a teen, but she "brushed it off," due to her religious beliefs.
"I basically decided to stay in the closet after that. Only my brother knew but I tried to hide my sexuality so I wouldn't disappoint my mom," he continued. "So eating is what got me through that time. It was the only thing I could control in my life and that made me happy and felt happy. So I just kept eating and getting bigger."
Lonnie coming out to his brother also strained their relationship for a time.
"When I found out, I didn't really agree with it because my mom had raised us to be religious so because of that, me and Lonnie had started to grow apart. We didn't have a relationship for a long time," John admitted.
The treatment of Lonnie's sexuality throughout his life elicited a strong wave of sympathy from viewers, many of whom condemned his mother for casting his coming out aside instead of embracing her son.
Lonnie’s most painful revelation was the the pain in his eyes as he describes all the years his family & the church’s forced conversion therapy taught him to fundamentally believe as a child that somehow god made him wrong by being born gay. #my600lblife pic.twitter.com/NyAIjeGr7Q— ☠️😈🤖 💕Cassie 💕🤖 😈☠️ (@Cassie4Peace) January 2, 2020
Not accepting her gay son while having numerous marriages, making him pay her bills, and trying to sabotage her son’s new life...this mom can fuck all the way off. #my600lblife— RNR (@rnr725) January 2, 2020
With Lonnie weighing in at 612 pounds and John at 686 pounds, the brothers are praying that weight loss surgery could be the step they need to save their lives.
"Neither of us have ever been able to get weight loss surgery and it's gonna take something drastic like that to give me a John a fighting chance to lose all the weight we need," Lonnie said.
My 600-Lb Life airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on TLC.
Photo credit: TLC