This year marks my seventh anniversary since moving to New York from California to pursue a career as a professional dancer. I came here in 2012, fresh out of college with my eyes wide open to the future believing that all my hopes and dreams were a possibility. I bought a one-way plane ticket, packed two bags, planned to stay on a friend’s couch for a month, and scheduled a job interview at Express on 5th Ave for the first day I arrived. Those first few months were some of the most difficult I had ever experienced, and I wouldn’t have been able to make it through without my community of friends that included mostly fellow artists from college and a girlfriend I had been dating and ultimately wanted to propose to the following year on our second anniversary. I was set. I knew who I was, what I wanted, and had a perfect plan laid out to live my life as the most authentic “me” I could be…or so I thought.
Fast forward to 2019. I breezed through that job at Express on 5th Ave, although now I work for the 14th Street Y planning special events and creating community engagement opportunities for our organization, on top of a successful career as a professional dancer for the past 6.5 years. But a major thing to note is that I never did propose to that girlfriend…because that relationship ended once I realized that the way to become the most authentic “me” I could be was to fully come out as a gay man and live my life 100% as the person I was created to be.
Clearly some things have changed since then.
Major life changes often tend to be rocky, messy, and scary, but I believe that if that change comes out of a place pursuing a life of happiness as your most authentic self, then that change is so freaking worth it. Today I’m writing to you from my office, getting ready for the kick-off event for a series of PRIDE events my team and I have planned to celebrate LGBTQIA+ inclusion in our organization, and create a space where all are welcome. Never in my life would I have imagined this is where my path would have taken me, and now that I’m here it’s even harder to imagine my life looking any other way. This series is intended to reach out to our community and make it known that the 14th Street Y and Educational Alliance are a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community to call home. It is my belief that this community is beautiful…we embody hope, freedom, love and light. Sometimes this light has come out of dark places, but this only makes the light stronger. We are looking for a place to celebrate, to be who we fully are and to shine as brightly as we were meant to. We need a place to share that innate quality about ourselves and encourage others to do the same. We are 100% human, both unrecognizable from the person next to you, yet we stand out immeasurably in a vast crowd.
I just shared a part of my story, but what about the stories out there from the people we haven’t met yet? At the heart of this series, the stories of the LGBTQIA+ community need a voice and an opportunity to be heard. This series has been titled LIVE FREE, LOVE FIERCE…because it is my belief that each and every person in the queer community is a beautiful example of living their most authentic selves. So as we go in to this coming month celebrating PRIDE, the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, and the first ever WorldPride in NYC, I hope that you all take some time to see how you can create a safe space for people to share their story in an effort for all of us to LIVE even more FREE-ly and to LOVE even more FIERCE-ly.
Interested in hearing more stories from the LGBTQIA+ community? Join us at Full Disclosure!
Full Disclosure: A night of storytelling celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community
Monday, June 17 | 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Caveat, 21 A Clinton Street, NYC
To celebrate the diverse history that lives at the heart of the LGBTQIA+ community, we are hosting a night purely dedicated to sharing these stories. You will hear from EA staff and members about who they are, where they are from, and what it means to be an LGBTQIA+ person. Putting their stories at the forefront, this night will be a night to celebrate and come alongside them in their journey to live free, love fierce.
General Admission $15. Must be 21+
Learn more about other PRIDE events happening at the 14th Street Y and across Downtown Manhattan.