PRIDE month is over, but we are still having conversations about the LGBTQ+ community. Check out the Being Seen Podcast! Being Seen is an in-depth exploration of culture’s role in resolving the tension between how we are seen and how we see ourselves. Focused on the gay and queer Black male experience, Being Seen is a space to explore current cultural representations and their impact through conversations with leading artists, writers, activists, entertainers, and community leaders.
My favorite episodes from Season 2 are “Afro Latinx” and “Mentorship.” The first one features Representative Ritchie Torres, Steven Canals (Screenwriter & Producer), and Wilson Cruz (Award-Winning Actor). Torres is the U.S. Representative for New York’s 5th congressional district. Steven Canals co-created and executive-produced the Fox television show Pose. Wilson Cruz is an actor most known for playing Rickie Vasquez on My So-Called Life. They each discuss the significance of representation for the Afro-Latinx community in public spaces like politics and the entertainment industry. Each discussion reminds me of the reason why I chose to become a storyteller. I want to help teach other people about the human condition because being human is a condition.
The second episode features guest Co-Host Lena Waithe (Writer, Actor & Producer), Gina Prince-Bythewood (Writer & Director), Little Marvin (Writer & Producer), and LaDarian Smith (Writer & Producer). Each person describes the role of being both a leader and a follower. Lena decides at the end of the podcast that she wants the next generation of Queer artists of color to be free. She says, “I want them to be freer than we are right now, as artists. I don’t want them to be held back, even by their own. I want them to be free.” I appreciate people like Waithe that work hard to be heard and to listen. I hope to do the same.
Check out Being Seen podcast to learn more about the Queer experience of being an Afro Latinx, Mentor, and so much more! Also, SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG! PRIDE month is over be we are still here and we are still Queer! Thank you for all of your support.
Last week, I shared an article called “My Ballroom ‘House Father’ Made Me the Man I Am Today” by Sydney Baroque on my Instagram channel. Baroque is a Journalist and Co-Executive Producer on HBO Max’s competition reality show, Legendary. In the article, Baroque shared a young man’s story about family and Queer pride. The piece inspired me to reflect on how the power of emotions made me a writer.
In the article, Baroque discussed his identity as a transman in the LGBTQ+ community. He said, “As my transition continues, I often find myself reexamining the way I embody masculinity and the way society’s standards for what constitutes “masculinity” fails to serve me and my community.” His confusion about how to be a man spoke to me. I heard a similar voice inside my head.
Loneliness taught me how to measure time with artistic milestones.
– Benjamin P. Gallagher
As a boy, I didn’t know how to stop being an emotional person. I felt conflicted about things like friendship all throughout middle and high school. Boys intimidated me but so did loneliness. I couldn’t interact with boys without feeling embarrassed about my emotions. Meanwhile, the loneliness provoked more feelings of loneliness, isolating me in a dark bubble.
Loneliness taught me how to measure time with artistic milestones. Achievements like writing a short story or even this blog post me made happy. I felt fulfilled. My sexuality didn’t teach me how to be creative. The isolation that my loneliness created inspired me to create art. Those moments inspired me to create more milestones to pass. I wanted to become a writer. The power to channel my emotions helped me pop the bubble. Similarly, Baroque’s article gave LGBTQ people the opportunity to reflect on their achievements as a community.
The moment struck a chord in the room – it demonstrated the power of fatherly care, both biological and spiritual, within our scene
Sydney Baroque in “My Ballroom ‘House Father’ Made Me the Man I am Today” on Vice.com
Baroque wanted to help others when deciding to become the House Father of the House of UltraOmni. He threw his first ball in 2017 at the Brooklyn Museum called “The New York City Legacy Ball.” A young boy Desi Omni of the House of UltraOmni walked his first runway category that night. At the end of the show, Desi was invited back to the stage. Baroque and Desi’s biological father applauded their son. Baroque said, “The moment struck a chord in the room—it demonstrated the power of fatherly care, both biological and spiritual, within our scene.” This scene highlighted the unique experiences of Queer people. This story helped me appreciate Ball culture. I wanted to share that feeling with others.
Thank you everyone for supporting my blog. If you want more content like this then please subscribe or leave a comment. HappyPride! Benjamin P. Gallagher
Thank you to everyone who showed up at the Artists and Authors event! I had a wonderful time speaking to everyone about their art and creative processes.Click here to view the Zine we created for your viewing pleasure! Also, thank you to the Center and the Winter Park Library for hosting this event. I’m grateful for your presence in the Central Florida community. Learn more about Orlando’s creative opportunities for LGBTQ+ people by visiting their websites. Find the links at the end of this post. If you’re a tween or teen, grades 5-12, then keep reading to learn more about how to submit your art to be in a gallery show!
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
The Creating for Pride team wants you to show them how you create with pride! Tweens and teens, grades 5-12, are invited to submit original, two-dimensional works of art for display at The LGBT+ Center during October, Orlando’s Pride Month.
Requirements: Works (or excerpt of work) must be mounted on 11×14 in. paper or canvas board and unframed. The works will be framed for display by the Winter Park Library. Deadline: Works must be submitted by Friday, September 3 at 6 PM to Winter Park Library, 460 E New England Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. Works can be picked up from the LGBT+ Center after October 31.
Please share this post with a young artist. Our history as Queer people is written by those who choose to stand up and speak out about our lived experiences. We are the next generation of LGBTQ+ people in Orlando, Florida. Show us what PRIDE means to you.
The Missing Years Project is a multimedia storytelling experience that uplifts the imagination and lived experiences of people of color during the ongoing pandemic. The Missing Year Project is founded and produced by Brooklyn-based Cellist & Arts Administrator Sarah Overton. Click here to listen to the latest episode. Thank you both for featuring my voice on your platform. I’m honored to share my thoughts about how art can change someone’s perspective on life.
In March 2021, Sarah contacted me in regards to the interview. She wanted to know how the pandemic affected the course of my dreams. Her curiosity flattered me. Until then, people only regarded me as a server, a barista, or an aspiring writer. Her question inspired me to address the question as a writer, someone with intellectual ideas about life.
In 2019, I wanted to know more about people. I wanted to understand how we interacted with one another at places like the Orlando Museum of Art while powering through a yoga pose, or flirting in a subway car, to a block party in Rio De Janeiro, and shopping for antiques in Miami Beach. They inspired me to learn more about my perspective on life and how I valued their company.
“Yes,” I said to Sarah, agreeing to the interview. “Describe to me your perfect morning,” she responded. The proposition inspired a conversation about the concept of identity. As a thirty-one-year-old queer Latino, my perspective derived its strength on the act of preservation. I protected myself from other people’s judgment. I didn’t want to be seen as weak or insecure. Yet, those ideas only haunted me.
“What I think is important though is that there’s evidence of those emotions, your creativity,” I continued. During the past year, I wrote a lot of rough drafts and made crappy art. Writing allowed me to express those monstrous ideas of identity. Those pieces gave me the confidence to confront my ego. I knew that my opinion of self could change if I allowed myself to be vulnerable with other people.
Because, if my opinion of self could change then so would my perspective of the world. The fear of being misunderstood by strangers and people within the Queer community could change if I opened myself to other people’s opinions. In that respect, my art mattered. My crappy half-finished sentences, misused vowels, and blog posts could change someone’s perspective about me, and therefore of someone else.
“I know that I’m not the only person who experiences these emotions this way, and that inspires me to keep living,” I said, referring to emotions like gratitude and insecurity. The ways in which people chose to speak to me about those emotions could change if I could learn to be open with my art.
Thank you, the Missing Years Project for the opportunity to both express and record these thoughts. I am grateful for the opportunity to express myself as a writer. I am proud to be on this podcast as a Queer person of color. Subscribe to my blog to stay updated on interviews and posts. Thank you again, Sarah Overton and photographer Enrique Wiedemann for providing the opportunity to express me.
On June 17th, I will be speaking on a panel of LGBTQ+ Artists and Authors. I am honored to be a part of this project as a Queer storyteller. Join us as we celebrate our identity and self-expression through art and words. The event is intended for people ages 11-18. All participants are invited to create their own artwork that will go on display in the month of October at The Center Orlando. Enrollment is not required. The virtual event starts at 7:00 pm. Please share this event with anyone you think might be interested.
Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera identified themselves as transvestites. Not until the late 1960s would the Queer community begin to use the word “transsexual” to describe themselves. The word “transvestite” expressed a common truth that both women shared: being between sexes and otherwise known as third-gender.
The Stonewall riots started on June 28, 1969. Historians remembered this date as the start of gay activism. Suddenly, people like Johnson and Rivera became the “other” in an already marginalized community. Their identity threatened the wholesome image that gay people strived to attain in the public eye.
In The Stonewall Reader, writers shared many stories both about third-gender people. Each one expressed the shame that revolved around transvestites and drag queens. In particular, the chapter “Craig Rodwell” documented Rodwell’s challenges as a gay man in New York City.
Rodwell opened a gay and lesbian bookshop at 291 Mercer Street, New York called The Oscar Wilde Bookshop. The bookshop only sold people stories that depicted homosexuality as a “good” thing. Gays and lesbians depicted themselves without objectifying their sexuality. Rodwell gave people the opportunity to enlighten themselves about the gay community, but not the Queer community.
“I excluded books with certain key words: third sex, twilight world, perversion – nothing about that. I wanted to depict homosexuality as basically good.”
However, third sex people like Johnson and Rivera who neither identified themselves as male nor female had their voices silenced because of the decisions made by those in the Queer community. Like Rodwell, many in the Queer community ignored the plight of third-gender people in an effort to bring homosexuality into mainstream society. Despite their treatment, Johnson and Rivera continued advocating for everyone within the Queer community.
In 1970, Johnson and Rivera co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens, gay youth, and trans women. Their activism helped many people find a temporary home, protecting them from violence and police brutality. However, STAR disbanded three years after its founding in part because of a lack of funds. STARS financial instability represented a deeper shame in the Queer community and a conscience disregard of third-gender persons.
For example, Rivera noted every year since the Stonewall riots, members of the trans community were moved further and further to the end of the line. Rivera acknowledged this displacement in a speech at the Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally in 1973.
I have been to jail. I have been raped. And beaten. Many times! By men, heterosexual men that do not belong in the homosexual shelter. But do you do anything for me? No. You tell me to go and hide my tail between my legs. I will not put up with this shit. I have been beaten. I have had my nose broken. I have been thrown in jail. I have lost my job. I have lost my apartment for gay liberation and you all treat me this way? What the fuck’s wrong with you all? Think about that!
It seemed that Johnson and Rivera sacrificed everything to gain respect from their brothers and sisters in the Queer community even while their very existence ran counter to the efforts to bring homosexuality into the mainstream.
Their self-acceptance as two trans-women of color ignited the flame of enlightenment for the Queer community today. In 2010, the term “genderqueer” became popularized by news media outlets. Those in the Queer community started to reimagine a world that included non-binary people like Johnson and Rivera. Trans-stories populated television shows like Pose and The L Word and books like the Nemesis Series by April Daniels. Still, trans-lives in the real world faced oppression, suicide, and murder.
Sadly in 1992, Johnson’s body was discovered floating in the Hudson River. Several people saw Johnson being harassed by thugs prior to her death. Police ruled her death a suicide despite witness statements; however, Johnson’s official cause of death has been disputed. A recent documentary, about the death and life of Marsha P. Johnson, chronicles the curious circumstances surrounding her death and ongoing investigative efforts to find truth and justice for Johnson. But this narrative of injustice for trans-people should not be the only one that people know about today.
Trans-people deserve a more prominent place in history than the Queer community has historically refused to offer. With the current focus on inclusionary efforts within the Queer community, perhaps then Rivera and Johnson and others like them will finally get the notoriety and appreciation that they so richly deserve.
Thank you for reading my blog! Don’t forget to subscribe to read more about Queer life.
Four weeks ago, the Law picked me up from Orlando, Fl. Neither of us wanted to suffer through quarantine alone. We managed to set up two workplaces inside his condo.
Every day after work I chose to either write a story or draw a picture. These activities helped me cope with depression. I wanted to prove to myself that the human mind could overcome emotion by setting a goal to try something new.
Covid-19 is misplacing a lot of human energy. From the bedroom to the living room to the front side patio, I’m trying to carve out a new routine. Yoga keeps me healthy and sane. The space between moments holds fresh air.
My lung reel love in from the Universe. I am learning how to cut time in half. The difference between last week and this stares me in the face. The white porch glimmers beneath the after sun.
I’m proud of myself for washing the walls. I’m proud of myself for sweeping the floor and wiping down the furniture. Because it means that I’m learning how to accept these beautiful circumstances.
Preparing space for the things you love can feel holy. How is your adventure going? How are you learning to embrace this challenging moment in human history? That’s a hard question to digest. But I know you can do it.
Last night I discovered MattDoesFitness on Youtube. His fitness journey reminded me of how this blog started. Although the“Counting Calories” post spiked viewership I decided to write about Queer life.
Since then, I’ve gained weight and wrestled with the idea of bulking. The anxiety of gaining fat stemmed from a superficial desire to remain “too skinny.” An unspoken yet visible part of the Gay community taught me the logistics of Body Image. “Too skinny” symbolized desire, especially for Bottoms who wanted a Muscle Top.
I say unspoken because these members were usually on television or porn videos. The culture of desire didn’t echo human nature. I didn’t know what to want or expect from sex as a young adult. Yet, I mirrored others with the hope of attracting mates.
So when my body started gaining fat, especially during the Holidays, it reflected something new. I continued counting calories but with less dedication. My body didn’t need to have six-pack abs. The circumstances of body comfort followed the criteria of what I call Talent.
MattDoesFitness spoke about his fitness journey in the video. He adjusted body image goals according to athletic ones. Long Jumping conditioned his mind to sculpt muscle according to need. Wider strides made him a track star.
I consider this need a Talent. My body conformed to a lifestyle of Yoga, Running, and Dancing. Therefore it burned calories faster than it did two years ago. So I didn’t need to worry about gaining weight because of my talents.
But life changed again. I earned the job title of a Barista, Server, Go-Go Dancer, and Development Assistant. One of those responsibilities relied on body image. So my thought process conformed to the idea of losing fat again. I could earn more tips with a six-pack than without one.
This logic, although not completely flawed, conflicted with the desire to keep eating a surplus of food. More food meant a happier Benji than in the Summer of 2019. Back then, I achieved 10% Body Fat and felt ridiculous for two reasons: lack of enjoyment of the present moment and of internal pleasure.
I only paid attention to my diet. Water quenched the yearning to consume alcohol and chocolate. I filled myself with a cool emptiness to fulfill another person’s fantasy. Yet, no man brought me pleasure during this period.
Last night I started to piece together the puzzle of the human condition. My body reflected the lack of direction because of an old desire. But I no longer desired the same things in life.
I wanted more adventure. And the Universe gave me that in the form of friendship. I wanted more pleasure and it gave me that in the form of food. I wanted a job making coffee and it gave me the title of Barista.
“Will you help me harness my talents,” I said to the Universe. And then I waited, not for an answer or bright neon sign. I waited for the opportunity to embrace my body on the dancefloor and in the gym practicing yoga. My body conditioned itself to a new life chosen by this version of self.
Thank you, friends, for all of your support. Leave a heartfelt thoughtful comment below. We are discovering life in new and familiar ways. Cheers.
I identified as a Gay man for the past 18 years. I was a male seeking romantic attention from another male. Fantastical men drew themselves in notebooks and stories kept in the bedroom closet. Their souls marinated in the darkness.
I forgot about trying to find a “special” someone. The years passed by me in the streets of Orlando, Florida. Like a caterpillar, time crawled and chewed the remaining stalks in the garden.
“When will I finally be enough for myself?” I said. The question sparked an old idea. I pulled the souls out of the closet.
The pieces glimmered in the sunshine. In time the puzzle became a blueprint of self-confidence. All the men who sought my attention were versions of myself not yet realized.
So why did I become a Go-Go dancer? I wanted to be the object of attraction. People noticed my dancing skills despite the appearance of a depressed individual. It was my garden to escape to, a fantasy no longer impossible to achieve.
Yes, I believed in myself but also the Universe. That energy pushed me to get up on stage in underwear. That presence made a difference in my confidence, not as a sexually-active-man, but as the author of my own story and my own Fantastical Man.