Vela tells life’s story, sends message of love, growth, strength and living the dream

HARLINGEN — For the longest time, Moe Vela Jr. didn’t think anyone would be interested in his story.

In his own words, he’s a chubby, gay, bald, Hispanic man.

But, the Harlingen native has found his own truth, breaking through barriers along the way. Now, he has a message to send to so many people.

“I didn’t write this for my own sake,” Moe said of his book. “I wrote it because I want kids and adults to realize you can come from the Valley and get to the White House. I wrote this for anyone who has ever felt different. The message is to every kid and ever parent — celebrate who you are. We are, each and every one of us, worthy, unique and special, and we have a place at the table of life.”

In his book, “Little Secret Big Dreams: Pink and brown in the White House,” which will be on the shelves Nov. 15, he tells his life story, from growing up in Harlingen, to making it all the way to the White House, where he served a pair of vice presidents.

The hurdles he talks about focus on growing up as a gay young man in a society that told him he couldn’t be who he felt he truly was.

“That little secret could not be told,” Moe said about what others had said to him the first 18 years of his life. “It was immoral, unethical and a violation of God’s law.”

Moe said this isn’t a story about coming out as a gay man, finding his “truth” after leaving the Rio Grande Valley.

“It could have been anything, being too chubby or just different,” he said about the story he wanted to share with people. “It wasn’t that I wanted to tell a gay story. It just happened to be my little secret was my orientation.”

But his story is so much more.

“I see by sharing my story, we may be able to enlighten people,” Moe said. “If we can open some hearts and save one kids’ life, that’s truly the impetus for this.”

He said this book is for those being bullied or anyone who is different in any way and is struggling with that.

“I want kids to know it is OK to wear glasses or be a little chubby,” he said. “You are OK and it is going to be OK. That is what I want to stress about my book. Gay rights are special and important to me, but that is not the overriding message. Get up and get there and be you and just be you. Whoever you are is special. I don’t know if that message is expressed enough. I don’t believe it is.”

Because of its strong message, the book already is gaining steam.

It’s available via preorder on Amazon. Last weekend, it was the No. 1 LGBT book on preorder in the world.

“I am so humbled and touched,” Moe said about the success so far of his book. “We haven’t even marketed the book.”

The success of the book so far could be considered as surprising as the process it took Moe to write it.

He started writing the book about five years ago, a couple years after leaving Joe Biden’s office. But he stopped, until this past February.

Like most things he does, Moe moved fast and finished the 270-page book in three months.

“I was so ready and it was so cathartic to write,” he said. “It was like a floodgate. I just started at the beginning and was literally done.”

He said it was a “pleasant experience” to write the book, calling it an “incredible process.” Moe said he will let the readers decide if he has any talent as a writer. But, he said it was all from his heart, raw and real.

Moe hopes the readers take something from the book, as much as he did.

“If one person says my book made them follow their dreams, that will be the reward,” he said.