It took me a long time to figure out how to talk to other gay people.

It took me a long time to figure out how to talk to other gay people.

Based in D.C. at the time of the interview, this opera singer shares his experience with coming out, dating, racial issues, activism in D.C., and being gay while traveling. He shares personal details about his journey of being out and proud with grace and humor.  

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I have two great coming out stories.

The first story was in High School, I was in my AP government class working on an assignment with another guy who was also in the closet. As he and I were working on our assignment, some friends from across the classroom shouted, “Are you two together?” We started freaking out and repsonding that we were straight. Our friend said they all knew we were gay, and just wanted to know if we were together. I looked to my teacher for help and she had her history book in front of her face to hide her laughter. The whole class started giggling. After that point, I was out in High School. 

I came out to my Mom and Dad five years later when they came to my Undergrad Senior recital. My dad came up to me and said, “I know you’re gay, it says so on Facebook.” I added my parents on Facebook hoping they would see I was gay so I didn’t have to come out to them. My mom asked me if it was a phase, and if I tried to be with a girl. Now she is fine with me being gay and she loves having a gay son. 

It is really hard to date as an opera singer.

I can see guys lose interest once I share that I travel a lot for singing and am rarely in one place. I find it easier to date other singers because they understand the life, the late hours, and the constant travel. 

I feel like I have an obligation to stay active, protest, and to let my voice be heard as artist who is living in D.C. 

Eventually, the changes happening in this country are going to get to all of us. We have to stay woke. Our voices as artists are quite loud, and it is important to use our voice for equality.

An African-American woman and I sat at a very “red” table recently at an event. The comments made at that table were around how grateful we must be to be this successful in our lives, given our race. If you sense something is not right in conversation, don’t start an argument. Engage others further in conversation to see why they have a certain option, and try and share why you have a certain opinion.

One of the major themes of the opera Appomattox, from the time slaves were emancipated to 100 years later during the civil rights movement, not much had changed in terms of the rights of people.

I thought about how little has changed since the civil rights movement when I had to sing an aria form that Opera. Can we say there are no more hate crimes? Can we say that someone won’t get shot in the face because of their race? No we can’t. Two Indian men were shot in a bar recently because they weren’t from this country. The bigotry in this country is still alive and well. 

The voice of the artist has to be heard. We have to let people know there is so much to be done.

Everyone should be paying attention, despite their race. There are roles that I have not been allowed to do because I am black. There is a role that I wanted to be considered for, but was apologized to when casting directors said they will not be doing colorblind casting. I couldn’t do that role because I was black. My talent wasn’t a factor and my hard work wasn’t a factor. The color of my skin counted me out of that role immediately. 

My homosexuality is something I have to be conscious of when I travel.

I have a sway in my hips I am very proud of, but I know depending on where I go I have to calm those hips down. I have to put on my pimp walk instead.

Home was where I experienced bigotry.

I never thought I would have to teach my own family to not be bigoted. I was driving with my nephews when they started calling each other “faggot” in the backseat of the car. I asked them why they would say that and demean an entire group of people. They explained that everyone said that word, and being gay is weird. I said, "you all know I am gay, right?" They were taken off guard. As their Uncle, I had to tell them I was gay, and saw their minds blown. 

I’m not around those boys enough to make sure they understand there is nothing wrong with being homosexual. I don’t want them to carry any type of misunderstanding for the gay community.

It took me a long time to figure out how to talk to other gay people.

I shyed away from taking with other gay people when I was growing up. I love our culture so much now, and it makes me so happy and proud to be a part of this wild ass community. 

For those just coming out, figure out who your community is and get out there and meet people.

I feel like gay people are very shy when talking to other gay people. If you feel lonely, just go out and meet some other gays. It is terrifying, but just get out there and you’ll make friends. It is easy enough to make friends in the gay community.

When I was younger, I was never out and proud about being gay.

I've always been an extrovert. For some reason, gay people always seemed to be out and proud in a different way in which I could relate. Now, I realize they were out and proud completely, where I was only proud about the specific things I wanted to be out and proud about. I was never out and proud about being gay, and that is what I was afraid of...but I figured it out. I figured there was more to be proud of besides my voice and my good looks!

I first realized I was gay in the midst of the 2004 election when the President capitalized on the fear of gay people to get reelected. 

I first realized I was gay in the midst of the 2004 election when the President capitalized on the fear of gay people to get reelected.