Derek Hough thinks the time has come for men to “man up” and help change the culture around sexual harassment.
Amid numerous allegations against multiple Hollywood power players — including producer Harvey Weinstein, director Brett Ratner and actor Kevin Spacey — the 32-year-old Dancing with the Stars champ said that men have an opportunity to “rise up and man up and be good men.”
“I think that a lot of men too are honestly afraid to open up and have that vulnerable side come out and talk to their guy friends or their girlfriends and just be open and honest,” he continued. “And I think that when there’s that honestly, when there becomes that trust, and when there becomes that trust there the best versions of who we are.”
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Hough has also recently taken a stand for suicide prevention, releasing a song called “Hold On.”
“I saw firsthand what it did to family, friends, and people around them,” he told PEOPLE, revealing that his uncle committed suicide. “It got me so curious about psychology and how someone could get to that point where they feel like this is the only option.”
Hough added that he wrote “Hold On” five years ago for a friend who was going through a hard time, but he only decided to release the track this year, after the suicide of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, of whom he was a fan. The song was playing in Hough’s car when he received news of Bennington’s death. “Being an artist, I have different palettes and different paintbrushes, if you will, and whether it be choreographing or writing a book or writing a song or writing lyrics and singing melodies, for me it’s about telling a story and evoking emotion,” Hough said.
“500,000 men a year take their own lives; three out of four suicides are men,” he added. “ carrying this burden, carrying this weight, carrying this sort of shame of the depression and thoughts and feeling the traditional masculine mindset where they can’t talk about their emotions.” Hough hopes to reduce the stigma around conversations about mental health: “I just want to encourage men out there to talk,” he continued. “It’s not something we should shy away from.”