I was raised in a conservative, Catholic home with my younger sister who was as eager to pass off her Barbie dolls to me as I was to unload my dump trucks on her. Moving beyond Barbie, my true career aspiration was to grow up and be either Snow White or Dolly Parton. My parents were hoping for law school or possibly medicine. We met in the middle and I ended up in art school.
I remained closeted until after I graduated college. One day as I worked with my mural painting partner and best friend Melissa, I revealed to her the unsurprising news that I was gay. By this point, I had attended several Cher farewell concerts and had a massive mural of her face painted on my apartment wall. Still, with a small town background and a strong connection to family, I struggled to veer from my path of denial. Fortunately, the road signs became all too clear, and I began to slowly embrace my true self.
Coming out also greatly impacted my artwork. When I began exploring my sexuality, I found many healing benefits to examining and detailing this process through painting. I had no intention of ever sharing these paintings with anyone. They were for me. And once they were finished, they were un-stretched and stored beneath my bed.
That all changed when Melissa stumbled upon them and convinced me to enter them in a local juried art exhibition. They were accepted into the show and I discovered how wonderful it is to share work that is personal and honest, especially with those who can relate. It’s also fun to buy new clothes for art openings, so I painted more.
I continue to explore and express my own personal narrative as it evolves and leads me in unpredictable directions. I find myself at a point in my life where few things seem impossible. I want to be a genuine painter, a prolific and honest artist, a great friend and husband, and remain open to whatever opportunities come my way. None of that would be possible if I hadn’t been honest with myself.