Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Tim's Body Image Answers

 Tim Talks about his Body Image thoughts IG:tkadventures19

Age? 19

Stats? 5’6 and 129 pounds

What age did you start having body image issues? 13 years old

Do you feel better about yourself now? Some days yes and other days nope

What caused you to ever have doubts about the way your body looked? Seeing male models and attractive guys with abs or big muscles in which I do not have and during the early years of high school girls would be more attracted to the attractive jocks and studs. So that kind took my confidence level down.

Are you comfortable being nude in front of others? Ie lockerrom, bedroom, etc  I am not comfortable being nude really in front of others but with my someday boyfriend/husband I would. I am generally a private guy so changing in front of other guys is not key for me.

What does body positivity mean to you?

Body positivity means to express yourself and find ways that build you and your confidence up, and taking chances like underwear modeling but being confident in the pictures really helps.

What is your favorite body part? I don’t really have a favorite body part, but I would say my butt is my favorite body part.

What is your least favorite body part? My chest I would have to say is my least favorite body part, reasons I have struggled with body confidence due to lack of muscles in my chest. 

What do you love most about your body? My body is one of a kind and I view myself in a positive way is key even though it can be tough to love my body.

What would you like to improve about your body? Working out more and trying to gain some muscles. 

What is special about your body? I am not sure what is special about my body except that I have soft smooth skin reasons my genetics which also helps keep my youth looks.

What do you do to make yourself feel better about yourself? I would say wearing briefs to jockstraps help me feel better but also just relaxing and taking time to myself helps a lot

How often are you naked just because? I used to be naked quite a few times I used to have an apartment back in Texas and so since it was just me I would be naked after work. It really is freeing to be naked no pun intended.

How often do you check yourself out? Here and there but not too often

What do you find attractive physically in a potential mate? Personality and work ethics are top key for a potential mate then appearances are just a bonus. 

Have you always had positive thoughts about your body? Oh, for sure not but I try to be more positive about my body 

What do you tell yourself when you are not feeling so positive about your body? I normally don’t tell myself anything when I am not feeling so positive about my body, I just accept it but know I can work out. 

Has there been anyone in your life that you have modeled your body positivity after? Well yes but it doesn’t workout reason my body isn’t going to be what I see or know who looks the way I wish I could look so solely thinking based more on me I know I can look better. 

When do you feel most confident about how your body looks? That almost anything I wear, and I feel confident and good about the clothes on how my body looks. 

What’s your favorite outfit that makes you feel your hottest? Less of an outfit but a jockstrap an or tank tops love them both.

When is a time that you have felt the best about your body? Probably posting me in a jockstrap for the first time and being confident about the pictures I took is when I have felt the best. 

Who makes you feel the most sexy? Who makes me feel the most sexy to be honest no one really or not yet. 

Is there a time of year that you feel most sexy? No not really but summer probably reason I can try and go shirtless and not feel bad.

What male celebrity do you think has the best body/body positivity? Well that is tough there are many who have the “best” body or positivity. I think Huge Jackman is extremely attractive and has a good body. I find people who are confident but are not prideful to be the best body and or positivity.

Dan Talks About His Feeling Towards his Body Image

Dan Provides his input of Body Positivity/Image IG: Danielbushe

Age? 38

Stats? 5'9" 74kg

What age did you start having body image issues? Around 24 - Prior to that I was an elite swimmer. After quitting that, metabolism slowed down and by the time I noticed, I didn't really like what I saw.

Do you feel better about yourself now? It's up and down - I have moments of feeling pretty good, but there's always something that brings me down and it holds me back from being truly confident in my whole self

What caused you to ever have doubts about the way your body looked? I was in my previous relationship for a long time, from about the age of 22, but a few years in, the sex stopped almost completely despite my attempts to keep it going - he was looking elsewhere and that hit to my confidence stuck and I didn't feel I could get out of the hole, because if he didn't want me in that way, then who else would? My family has always commented on the slightest weight gain and I didn't really realize how much that impacts me as well.

Are you comfortable being nude in front of others? Ie lockerrom, bedroom, etc? For the most part, yes - having been a swimmer in my teens and early 20s and then a Water Polo player since then, I've not had issues in the locker room, but certainly didn't think anyone was paying attention. In the bedroom with my partner I feel pretty good, but would like to worry less about my problem areas (stomach, double chin) when I catch myself in the mirror mid action! I want to be more comfortable to be photographed myself as well.

What does body positivity mean to you? Being truly comfortable and confident in how I look in any situation, and celebrating everyone in the same way 

What is your favorite body part? Probably my legs, specifically my calf muscles. They make a statement!

What is your least favorite body part? My double chin

What do you love most about your body? I love what I can do with it - I'm naturally a good swimmer and it feels great to swim fast and move in the way I can in water.

What would you like to improve about your body? Slimmer in the waist - I don't like what I see when I'm sitting down, and certainly would love to lose the double chin

What is special about your body? That's a tough question to answer personally, I don't really think anything is all that special, other than my swimming abilities. 

What do you do to make yourself feel better about yourself? I work out a few times a week at the gym and swim / play water polo - I wouldn't necessarily say that that makes me feel better. I want to look for and pay more attention to things that make me feel good though, such as seeing a photo of myself that I like.

How often are you naked just because? Not all that often - my partner and I like to visit nude beaches occasionally, so that's about the only time. I feel self conscious at the beach though and want to feel more open and free when I am there!

How often do you check yourself out? Very rarely, when I look in the mirror, its only when I'm completely daily hygiene activities, never just to admire or look at my body.

What do you find attractive physically in a potential mate? Great skin. I prefer less hairy and slimmer guys. 

Have you always had positive thoughts about your body? No, I've had periods where I've struggled to find any positivity in how I look. But mostly these days I can find at least something I'm happy about.

What do you tell yourself when you aren’t feeling so positive about your body? That I don't do enough to make myself feel good and look good and that I'm not appealing. 

Has there been anyone in your life that you’ve modeled your body positivity after? Not until recently. I've decided I need to do a lot more to make myself feel positive about my body, and I'm looking at my partner for inspiration. He's so comfortable putting himself out there. and I believe he is so comfortable because he's gorgeous. I want to feel that comfort in myself and have that opinion of myself as well.

When do you feel most confident about how your body looks? When I'm clothed / covered and even then, only sometimes.

What’s your favorite outfit that makes you feel your hottest? Probably a suit - I do feel that I look good in one and love an excuse to get dressed up like a big meeting or a wedding. 

When is a time that you’ve felt the best about your body? About 10-11 years ago, after moving overseas, confidence was at an all time low. I was meeting new people and not feeling great about myself, so I embarked on a unhealthy period of workouts, crazy dieting and weight loss supplements - I know it wasn't great for me, but I did feel way more confident for a period. It wasn't sustainable though and didn't last. 

Who makes you feel the most sexy? Absolutely my partner Joey - no one has ever been so supportive and complimentary. I really struggle to believe the compliments sometimes though (he is 100% genuine, it's my lack of confidence and self belief that comes into play)

Is there a time of year that you feel most sexy? Not really a specific time. I try to work harder to feel and look good for summer, but I don't love that habit and really want to work on feeling sexy all year round.

What male celebrity do you think has the best body/body positivity? Sam Smith - see his Sydney Mardi Gras performance from this year - so incredible and inspiring, and he's having a fucking blast as well.


Body Image Input from Cody

Body Image Input from Cody IG:aphroditus562

 Age? 25, almost 26.

Stats? 5'10, 320.lbs. at least when I last checked.

What age did you start having body image issues? 
The exact age I don't know but I noticed I started hating myself around the age of 11 and I was in junior high, maybe even earlier. There were days even weeks where I would starve myself hoping that I would be thinner, even if it were a slow process. 

Do you feel better about yourself now? 
Some days are better than others. I am taking steps to be proud of my body and comfortable in the skin I have now. 

What caused you to ever have doubts about the way your body looked? Mostly my peers in school saying I was fat and ugly among other insults of course. Some have said that because I am fat that I wouldn't find a girl (when i was younger and straight) or a man that would love me because of me being fat. Even my own dad actually made me feel horrible. He even called me a fat-ass to my face as an insult which made me feel even worse about my appearance whether it was my hair or my clothes, but him making fun of me for being a plus-sized guy when he had a beer belly drew a line in the sand.

Are you comfortable being nude in front of others? Ie locker room, bedroom, etc. Not really, I feel anxious if I take off my clothes that someone will say something to publicly humiliate me. I would only take off my clothes in a bedroom if someone I really like was there and was okay with my body type. 

What does body positivity mean to you? To me, body positivity means being able to be comfortable in your skin no matter the size or shape. I also believe it means accepting others as they come because some things are circumstantial for people. 

What is your favorite body part? I'd say honestly, I really do like arms and my legs. My arms because of all the tattoos I have added to them. My legs because of the way they look in jeans. Been told by others that my legs and ass do look nice in them. Which is funny because every time I saw my own ass in the mirror, I kept thinking, "eww" and thought anyone who thought the opposite was crazy. Many guys have said they like my thick ass. 

What is your least favorite body part? My chest, abs, and my love handles on my side. There were times I would work out insane amounts of time and ways just to get rid of them and nothing seemed to work. Even with a friend that was into fitness as a workout partner noticed it. 

What do you love most about your body? Well, as I said before I do like my arms more now because of all the tattoos I've put onto them especially because I did the original drawings of them of paper. And I do plan to get more and on other parts of my body. I also love how enduring the body can be. I meant we can get hurt and sometimes without medical help it can heal itself or adapt so well. For example, the skin is stretchy it covers our entire body and if we slim down it can slowly over time revert back. And our muscles get sore or ache if were strain ourselves, but if we rest and relax, the pain goes away. I suppose truly what I am saying is that I like how durable it can be to most outside damage.

What would you like to improve about your body? I'd want my love handles gone if not smoothed out, and my stomach and chest to be flatter at least. 

What is special about your body? I'd say my tattoos truly, I did the original drawings on paper. I chose everything for the style, subject matter, and color palette. Each piece I have now or even plan to get is 100% something I created or had a hand in making.

What do you do to make yourself feel better about yourself? In my earlier years, I would eat to make myself feel better which now I realize was counterproductive. Nowadays being into the metaphysical I meditate and recite mantras in my head, basically doing more positive self-talk. I also try to remember that karma will catch up with people.

How often are you naked just because? Only if I'm by myself and especially if it's hot outside. Now if there was someone with me, I'd at least wear underwear if not more clothes. There was a time when I was naked laying with a hookup and was truly comfortable. Each time before the level of comfort though I did have the thoughts of, 'Oh, once they see all this, they'll want me to leave'. That has only happened twice out of five times. Twice I stayed because I actually like them, not just because they were handsome or sexy, but they were actually nice to me, and they liked me too.

How often do you check yourself out? Not too often, I only look in the mirror when I am getting ready for work really. There are rare occasions when I do and when that happens it's unexpected. I remember walking the Las Vegas Strip just exploring the hotels and everything. I saw my reflection on the building when I was walking by. The first initial thought was "Why haven't I been mistaken for a celebrity yet?" also "Why haven't I been hit on yet?"

What do you find attractive physically in a potential mate? I usually tend to fall for Latinos or Middle Eastern men, dark hair, and brown eyes, that what I notice most when I first initially talk to someone. I also notice that if they look like a rocker, or as though they're in a band, or even a bad boy I guess I turn into a cartoon character with the heart eyes. Definitely tattoos on them too and it didn't matter if it was just one small one, smaller scattered pieces, or even a massive sleeve. However, even with aesthetics, I do like someone who is kind, caring, respectful, and openminded. Definitely like a gentleman. But that is never been set in stone. 

Have you always had positive thoughts about your body? Not always, as I said before I was made fun of for being a bigger guy and sometimes even get rejected by the LGBTQ+ community for being a bigger guy. I remember once going on a date, meet up with this guy at a restaurant. Could tell when he first saw me, he was shocked. He said he had to go to the restroom, but he really used that as an excuse to escape. Then, he sent me a message while he was away saying, "I'm sorry, I don't think this will work out. I'm not used to someone of your body type". Truly devastated I called up my friends and family to see who was available, and no one was. Of course, I bald my eyes out alone in my car until I was ready to go home, even wished that was wearing a fat suit I could take off. Funnily enough years later he hits me up not recognizing me, and I didn't remember him at first then it clicked. So, when he asked if I wanted to come over, I used a line he used on me. After that he remembered, and apologized for his behavior, and what made it even sweeter is that he gained weight too. I still didn't hook up with him even after he sincerely apologized. 

What do you tell yourself when you aren’t feeling so positive about your body? I tell myself that people who tease, make fun, or insult me because of me being plus-sized that karma will catch up to them. And I have to remember that Aphrodite (Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty) was depicted in art (ex. my favorite painting "The Birth of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli or the Venus de Milo statue by Alexandros, a sculptor of Antioch) having some cushion, curves. She is considered the pinnacle of beauty even now, and she has curves. And she did what she felt was right for her. In other words, 'what would she (Aphrodite) do?'

Has there been anyone in your life that you’ve modeled your body positivity after? Aphrodite, for sure, because she did what she wanted and never regretted any of it. Another influence for my body positivity has been singer/song-writer, Lady Gaga. The reason being is that she acknowledged the issues she shad and transforms herself to feel comfortable in her skin and is known to be very compassionate to all she meets. And Finally, comedian Nicole Byer, known for hosting the Netflix show 'Nailed It'. She is a proud voluptuous black woman and she had an interview with Wendy Williams where she (Byer) once said "People know what a fat arm looks like whether its covered or not". Realizing what she said was true, I figured why bother hiding anything?

When do you feel most confident about how your body looks? When I wear clothes, I know are comfortable and that I know what I like. 

I also love showing off any new tattoos whenever I get them after it's a new work of art, especially one that last forever. And when I dance to my favorite songs on my iPod as if I am actually in a music video. 

What’s your favorite outfit that makes you feel your hottest? I usually wear a lot of black and red. I used to have this pair of black jeans I adored; they have since worn out because my thighs rub together. Anyways, my favorite was my black jeans, black t-shirt, my red flannel. And I always sport my tiger's eye necklace any time of day. I will sometimes switch my shoes from my red converse high tops, my black timberlands, or my black cowboy boots (which are truly not made for walking). I mostly got them because they actually fit and they were pointy at the front and on sale. Basically, a lot of dark clothes that look very witchy, alternative style clothes, mysterious, sophisticated, and powerful. 


When is a time that you’ve felt the best about your body? Hmmm, I do remember this one time when I went to Australia with a tour group, but I wasn't feeling well to go with the rest of my tour group to one activity. But I ended up feeling better, but I was stuck at the hotel on a bright sunny day and decided to go for a swim in the pool. There wasn't anyone there (at first). I get down there and notice two couples, each is far away. but I slowly get my legs in the water and took the chance to take my shirt off. To my actual surprise, no one was disgusted or at least didn't say anything. I did end up having a conversation with each one of them, and they each seemed okay with me overall. One of them did notice how I did take my shirt off, and she was a local older woman. However, she told me I didn't have anything to be ashamed of and that anyone who says otherwise should bend down as a turnaround and kiss my fat arse. After that, I left with more confidence in my body. Truly, I never took off my shirts before, always went swimming with it on if at all, but something in me told me to take a chance. I was glad that I did. And getting confirmation from an older gal and her husband made it even better.  

Who makes you feel the most sexy? There was this one guy who is a sailor in the US Navy (I won't give out his name because he isn't out). He treated me like an actual human being even though I know he was looking to hook up, and he got to know me. Every time he kissed my neck while I wrapped my legs around his waist while I sat on the edge of his bed, his arms on my waist, and mine on his shoulders. I really hope things will work out with him. And there are the times when he ran his fingers through my thick hair and would squeeze my ass cheeks too.

Is there a time of year that you feel most sexy? I do feel sexy around my birthday and around Halloween too. Would always put on my favorite clothes even if I wasn't going out anywhere. And Halloween because I can be my naturally witchy self and dress in regular clothes. I did participate in a pagan festival called Lupercalia earlier this year (which occurs near Valentine's Day) for the first time ever. I noticed I felt sexy during the matching ceremony. I dancing around and when the music stopped, we had to take a seat with the person closest to us. My match during that he loved the way my body moved with the music even as I tried to avoid bumping into the other dancers. Even some of the other men came up to me commenting on how they liked the way I was moved to the music. Hopefully next year I can participate in the next one. 

What male celebrity do you think has the best body/body positivity? I haven't noticed a whole bunch of males with body positivity but I will be doing more research after this to see. However, there is a friend of mine in Las Vegas who is very body positive and loves thicker or bigger men.


Anything else that you would provide? Don't be afraid to date someone that isn't necessarily 'your type', you may miss a diamond while going through all the coal. You also get more dates by doing so and gain more perspective on different aspects of life. Be proud of that body because it can endure so much. And finally, be open to listening to other's stories, you may know their side of things, their reasons, etc. 

And thank you for having me be a part of this blog, I hope I helped to make a difference for someone out there.

Body Image Answers by Zachery

Last year I started a Body Image Project as Body Positivity is so important and an issue that many of us face.  I have put together a list of questions to be answered by willing viewers and am posting the recent answers that I have received.   

Body Image  - Zachery IG:zacheryheiser

Age? 22

Stats? 6"2 220 lbs

What age did you start having body image issues? 16

Do you feel better about yourself now? Yes

What caused you to ever have doubts about the way your body looked? The beauty standards in the Gay community

Are you comfortable being nude in front of others? Ie lockerrom, bedroom, etc  Very

What does body positivity mean to you? Not quite sure to be honest

What is your favorite body part? My ass, eyes, hair

What is your least favorite body part? My stomach

What do you love most about your body? My ass 🍑


What would you like to improve about your body? More muscle in certain places

What is special about your body? It's my body ☺ But our bodies are only temporary.

What do you do to make yourself feel better about yourself? Work on myself 

How often are you naked just because? Whenever I can be 😈

How often do you check yourself out? I check out my ass constantly 😂

What do you find attractive physically in a potential mate? I'm more of a personality guy but, I do love asd, dick, and confidence 

Have you always had positive thoughts about your body? Nope! 😂

What do you tell yourself when you aren’t feeling so positive about your body? Nothing currently 

Has there been anyone in your life that you’ve modeled your body positivity after? Nope

When do you feel most confident about how your body looks? When surrounded by people who accept my body as it is

What’s your favorite outfit that makes you feel your hottest? Any sexy underwear or clothes that show off my ass 🍑😝

When is a time that you’ve felt the best about your body? Yesterday ☺

Who makes you feel the most sexy? When I hear it from others

Is there a time of year that you feel most sexy? Just whenever I can show off my body more

What male celebrity do you think has the best body/body positivity? None

Anything else that you would provide? Nope


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Self Portrait Challenge Part 5

It is always fun to do shower shots, just be careful not to get the phone too wet :)  He did a great job capturing these for me to be able to edit for him.

Self Portrait Challenge Part 4

Here is a great shot from another guy that took the self portrait challenge, love the angle of the shot and the creativity.  I can not decide if I like it in BW or Color better so you get both.

Self Portrait Challenge Part 3

Here are some great photos that were taken by Alberto today.  He wanted to leave a bit to your imagination, which I can respect, so we placed a bit of a blur on a couple of them.

Enjoy and be safe!

Quarantine Self Portrait Challenge Part 2

Here is another set that I enjoyed editing for Jason,  He really understands his body and how to allow the lighting to play off of it.  

Enjoy and be safe!

Quarantine - Self Portraits Edited by Studio1x

During this time of being quarantined, I have not been doing any photoshoots.  I am fairly caught up with my edits from the collaborations that I had before the lockdown.  I have offered to do edits for guys that were interested in doing self portraits.  They would do the self portraits of themselves and send them to me.  I then do the edits and forward them back to the guy.  Some have agreed to have their photos shared on here on my blog.

All photos have been taken by the guy or a friend of theirs, it is all about feeling free and able to express themselves in a creative way.  If you are interested in doing a self portraits session and allowing me to edit them, send me a message on Instagram, Studio1x_

Stay Safe and Enjoy!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Benji shares his coming out story

Benji opens up and tells his story of coming out below.  It is a very emotional story and I thank him to opening up and sharing his story in hopes that it helps others.

My Coming Out Story
IG: @lifeofbenjaminn

My first crush was my older sister’s boyfriend. He was 6’4” had a deep voice, and was very charming. When you’re young and don’t really understand those feelings, it’s easy to play it off and to not grasp what’s really happening. My crush was innocent and didn’t necessarily mean anything. In middle school there were boys who I would look at. I’d lay my head down as if I was resting but I’d really be peaking out of the space between my fingers at them. I told myself I was just admiring their jeans, or envying their athletic bodies and aspiring to look like them, and I had myself convinced for quite a while. I knew what it meant to be gay, because it was a big joke in the community I grew up in. My stepdad would actively use the word fag to describe men he perceived as weak or effeminate. The church I went to frequently painted that familiar fiery picture of the sodomists burning for eternity. I didn’t know why at the time, but that thought terrified me.

    The 7th grade gym locker room was where I got my first real accusation as gay. My voice hadn’t dropped yet and the jocks in my class would gang up and call me little gay boy and other things. I 100% didn’t believe them or know why they thought I was gay. I had already had 3 girlfriends, maybe even more than some of them. They bullied me until one day when we were all in the showering after class and another kid popped a full on boner. After that they didn’t tease me anymore but that poor kid got picked on until High School. It was cruel and set the stage for what was to come.
    By High School, I’d already internalized a lot of homophobia from my community. I knew it was a bad thing and believed gays burned in hell for their sins. Flamer and fairy were popular insults among the guys. I would say that’s so gay referring to anything I didn’t like. I even teased other kids and called them gay. I had multiple girlfriends and fully believed I was straight, but when some of the handsome athletic guys interacted with me my heart would race, and I would lose the ability to function. I got competitive with these guys and would work hard to get the fastest mile time, or get the most scores in gym class, or whatever I could do to keep up with the jocks.

    In the 10th grade I moved in with my father to a new school and got a serious girlfriend. She had beautiful doe eyes and the longest wavy brown hair. She had a sweet voice and was well liked in our school, and the feelings I developed for her were real. As things progressed we decided to have sex and both lost our virginity to the other. It only took one time to know that something was not right. I turned 17 and joined the choir, where I met a loud and opinionated classmate who was the president of the choir. He was a grade above me, was unapologetic and seemed to be in command of that room without anyone questioning. I immediately felt sparks and befriended him. We would text for hours and hang out after school, but never at my house. One day, we were hanging out and neither of his parents were home. We ended up in his room on his bed and his playfulness slowly chipped away at me. I was ferociously curious knowing that he was gay. I asked him questions about how it worked and if he’d ever done IT before. He revealed to me that he had a pretty strong porn addiction and proceeded to share his collection with me and I saw things I’d never seen before. My first time with a man was not a good experience, I was not ready, but he was so pushy. I just laid there while he got on top of me. I told him no, and to stop but he didn’t listen. I froze and he forced himself on me until completion. He got what he wanted and I cried myself to sleep that night. Of course, I was curious, of course, but I wasn’t ready and I vocally told him no. His response was to pin me and force himself on me.

    For days I walked the halls feeling corrupted, as if my skin was made of glass and everyone around me could see right through me. Was I bisexual? Was I going to hell? Or could God forgive me because I had resisted and didn’t want what had happened? The whole world didn’t make sense, but deep down I knew that I liked men. Around that time my father and I had a conversation, and my dad told me in exact quote “if I ever had a gay son, I would bury him in the backyard” and then he laughed and I was supposed to laugh along with him, and I did. I knew right then and there I could never talk to my dad about what had happened to me. I finished that school year in relative silence then decided to move back in with my mom.

    In 11th grade I went to church a lot, and I bullied the only out gay kid in my tiny high school. I prayed the gay away nearly every day and every night, but my eyes were opened, and I knew it was all a lie. I got new friends, more accepting ones, and slowly revealed myself to them. I slowly grew a circle of supportive friends who knew I was “bisexual.” That kid I bullied would eventually become my first on the dl boyfriend. He begged me to go to homecoming with him but I absolutely refused. Word spread as it does in high school, and soon I was hearing the word “faggot” shouted across the halls at me by jocks. The popular girls started circling me in hopes of acquiring a “GBF.” My community was expanding but I simultaneously couldn’t share my truth with my family. I toyed with the idea of telling my sister and eventually did. Little did I know that coming out was a never ending process with near every person you meet. Everyone assumed I was straight unless I told them. The day came when I was 17 and I got called out of choir class by my stepfather. I walked outside the doors of the school with him when he pinned me up against the wall as he so often did, and screamed in my face and told me he heard some rumors about me that I was taking it up the ass. I didn’t even respond to him, just looked at him tears flowing and he knew.
    Immediately after that moment, I moved out on my own, as a High School junior. I wasn’t kicked out on the streets, but I was so humiliated. I worked nearly full time and attended high school. I went to school early for morning show choir practice and stayed late for drama rehearsals. I was stacked and barely had a moment to sleep but I managed. My guidance counselor and principal advocated for me as a ward of the state and between them and the support of my friends I got accepted into a really nice private college. Entering college I had a lot of conflicting ideas about being gay. I still believed it was a sin, and that I was condemned to hell for it. I was bothered by feminine men, and had never even heard of a trans person. Being gay was the reason I didn’t fit in with anyone in my family, why I’d worked myself to the bone just to get myself to where I was. 

A close friend of mine dragged me to a student run club called SAGA. Walking in those doors I was greeted by a loud flamboyant man who wrapped his arms around me and welcomed me. SAGA was the college’s straight and gay alliance. In that room I met the first out trans man I’d ever met. Before him I never even heard of trans. There were queers of every stripe. I was nervous but they were all so embracing. I’d never felt more loved in my life. This club became my home throughout my college years where I learned to embrace myself, leave behind the shame, and for the first time in my life feel a sense of lgbtq pride. By the end of my sophomore year I took over as co president with a mission to give back and be a welcoming force to those incoming people like me. We changed the name from straight and gay alliance to sexuality and gender alliance to make it more clear that all were welcome here. We cried and laughed together in that room, took on big issues like conversion therapy and preferred pronouns with the constant motto “love is love.” There was another group on campus that countered with the quote “sin is sin,” but our message was louder.

During winter break of my Junior year, after 4 years of having next to no contact with my mom I finally visited her. I never said the words I’m gay to her. But I expressed myself. I invited her to come to my next SAGA meeting and would make small references to my gay identity. She even briefly mentioned a time when she was younger when she had an intimate encounter with a woman. I was reintroducing her into my life, trying to figure out how she would fit into it and letting go of the trauma we went through for she had separated from my stepfather. I remember curling her hair while we watched her and my father’s wedding tape. There I was in a little basket and she looked beautiful. After Christmas break, when I returned to college, I had no clue these would be the last moments I’d ever have with my mom.  In February, a month after her 40th birthday she killed herself after struggling with mental illness for many years. She never made it to my SAGA meeting and I never got the chance to fully be myself with her, but I was close and for that I’m grateful.
    When my mom died I lost my ability to function for months. I couldn’t focus in school and I desperately needed a change so I packed my things, moved to Seattle, and never looked back. In this city I found a queer safety net beyond what I ever imagined to exist. I could walk the streets in a crop top or kiss my lover in broad daylight without getting a second look from passerby. At 22, I found my first serious boyfriend. We moved in together and made a home and I fell madly for him. Through everything I still had never came out to my father, but now I was sharing pictures on social media of me with my boyfriend that my dad could see. Those words rang on in my head, “if I ever had a gay son I would bury him in the back yard.” It wasn’t until I was 24 that my dad finally broke that wall and asked how my boyfriend was doing. His heart had slowly changed over the years. 
Today I have more pride than ever before. I try to be authentically me in all aspects of my life, from work to family to the public eye. I make positive youtube videos that inspire people to get out and live their lives to the fullest. At Seattle Pride this year I’m wearing a crop top. I’ll probably have my jockstrap peaking out of the top of my shorts as I walk down Capitol Hill with my date who I’m trying to convince to wear a harness. My hope is that by being visible in my identity I can pave the way for a more embracing society. I see a lot has changed in a short time, but there’s still a long road ahead. I acknowledge the countless before me who lost homes, family members, and lives to discrimination and am grateful for how far we’ve come as a community, stronger together.