Well to get to today, I have to take you back a few years into my past.
*Please be aware that you will know my dead name, (the birth name of a transgender person who has changed their name as part of their gender transition) after this blog post. I know this may be triggering to some, so be kind to yourselves. *(ABC did a video about my transition, so if you want to skip to that, it's at the end of this post)
I started my professional career in musical theatre. Then I opened my own photography business. Under my dead name, which is watermarked on some of the photographs.
About 6 years ago, after the Pulse shooting I started a photography campaign, Pride Portraits. It started on a street corner at a mural of a rainbow wall. After the Pulse shooting, I felt like our community needed something to help heal. I posted an event on FB and said I'm photographing LGBTQIA+ folks in front of this rainbow wall, come out. Over 100 people, mostly strangers showed up. I did this pop up event again three more times.
Then I met someone who would change my life. Hugo Perez. Hugo is now the owner of an amazing online store, Love Hue. When we met we instantly became friends. After an amazing meal in Montrose, in Houston, Texas I commissioned him to paint a broad representation of a pride flag. I had never seen his art but we connected in such a great way, I knew I could trust him with something so important to me. A few weeks later I stood in his studio in complete silence. I was shocked that this man had taken what was in my brain and put it on canvas. It was perfect.
We decided to get a studio together and launch Pride Portraits as a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. With the help of Fran Watson, an amazing lawyer, we got all our paperwork in order.
The next 4 years were absolutely amazing. I photographed and interviewed seven thousand LGBTQIA+ community members and allies across the country. My work allowed me to really get to know our community and learn a lot about facets of the community I was not knowledgable of before. I also got to meet many of my heroes, some of which include, Alok, Lea DeLaria, Cleve Jones, Hillary Clinton, Tony Marrero and Nancy Pelosi.
I also had some amazing opportunities come my way that I am very honored and grateful for. A few of the highlights for me have been working with Marriage Equality Plaintiff, Jim Obergefell and having him dedicate Pride Portrait's Pride Wall at our unveiling ceremony.
Speaking at Stonewall Inn during Stonewall 50.
We made history as being the first LGBTQIA+ Pride Display in Houston's City Hall. We even got our own day, from the Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner.
We were featured in PEOPLE Magazine, and I got to honor the memory of my friend Dylan who lost his life way too young. Thank you, Nick Maslow.
I had the privilege of speaking about my work at FACEBOOK Headquarters on a panel with 3 other people who are amazing change makers as well.
I won't bore you with more of a trip down memory lane. I just wanted to give you a little history about who I am and what I've done.
So i'll leave you today with the video ABC did of me about my transition.
(The network was so proactive, they reached out to me after I came out and asked if we could do a UPDATE story, HOW AFFIRMING!!!)