Worship. Singer. Gay Christian. Traveler. Activist. Gamer. Foodie. Unpaid Critic. Wannabe Professional Adventurer.
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Day 23 of the Pride Day Challenge: I love that I have the travel bug. There's few memories more exciting than when I've left my comfort zone and travelled. I've been to 49 states: walking through the vastness of Mammoth Cave, snorkeling with sharks at a cove off the coast of Maui, eating salsa that scalded my tongue in New Mexico, and camping atop a frigid mountaintop in Colorado. International travel has been the most impressionable on me. I almost drowned in the rip tides of Costa Rica. I had my first kiss on a hilltop in the Slovakian countryside. I've swam with stingless jellyfish and met a US ambassador in Palau. I've loved broadening my horizons by interacting with people's of different cultures and backgrounds. I've made friends across the globe, a network of people linked by mutual love and acceptance of those different from us. I never want to stop these adventures. Life can be so monotonous if we don't seek to change it up. And I will never settle for less than exciting. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #travel #travelbug #jellyfish #palau #gay #underwater #travelgram
Day 22 of the Pride Month Challenge: I'm proud of overcoming depression. My struggle began in middle school. In my overly-hormonal mind, the world was constantly crashing down on me like waves of weights. Getting out of bed became a chore, and making it through each day made me relate to Atlas holding up the world. I would periodically go through cycles of this slump over the next 10 years. I let homework fall by the wayside. My grades suffered. I kept people at a distance. Coming to terms with my sexuality only heightened these effects. It's a miracle I even made it through college. I lost jobs and scholarship money because I couldn't keep it together. I didn't want it to take over my life, or God forbid, take my life. I pursued counseling, official and unofficial. I asked for help from God and from friends. I gradually started to identify the signs when depression would start to affect me, and I adopted healthy lifestyle changes to counteract it. By the time I was stepping away from college and found my footing in adulthood, it no longer had a hold on me. My struggle isn't unique. LGBTQ people, especially young people and people of color, suffer from higher rates of suicide and depression. I'm proud of overcoming my struggle, but I had it easier than many. I had a community of support and mental health resources available. There are countless legal and cultural changes that need to be made to address mental health stigmas. But I'm not ashamed of my struggles. I'm stronger for it. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #mentalillness #depression #gay #lgbt #lgbtq #faithfullylgbt #selfie #gayselfie #overcomingdepression #stronger
Day 21 of the Pride Month Challenge: I love that I'm outdoorsy. While I'm not usually the first to jump into a hiking expedition, after visiting dozens of national and state parks and snorkeling around the world, I think I make the claim that I'm outdoorsy. I'm always up for an adventure, even if it pushes me out of my comfort zone. Granted, most animals scare me, and when I began reeling in a catfish today, I realized that I hadn't thought ahead far enough as to how to handle it once I caught it. There's a point whenever I've gone skiing, when I'm at the top of the mountain. I look over the edge and realize there's no going back. I take a deep breath, push off, and let my instincts take me down the mountain. That's how I've approached the outdoors, with hesitation, but with excitement. It's the same approach that I hope to take with anything that scares me. All it takes is a deep breath and tiny push. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #fishing #outdoors #outdoorsy #outdoorsman #gay #catfish #bigfish
Day 20 of the Pride Month Challenge: I'm proud to be a musician. A few weeks ago I was walking through the streets of New Orleans. Each street corner I passed resounded with the jazzy swing of a big band or the humble rhythmic tapping on a paint bucket. As I walked down Bourbon Street, I was reminded how powerful music can be. Music has the ability to reach to our souls. It's man-made, yet divine. I think that's why I've always been drawn to music. Even though I'm college-trained and work as a professional musician, I still often feel like an amateur. There's so much to learn. I only recently began venturing into songwriting and music production. And as I record songs, I can't help but think of the music that's reached to my soul: of the jazzy swing of a big band or the humble drummer playing on a paint bucket. It matters not the instrument nor the stage, just the kind of tapping that stirs the soul. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pride #pridemonth2017 #music #musicpride #singer #musician #gaymusic #records #recordingstudio #neworleans #gay #churchmusician #stirsthesoul
Day 19 of the Pride Month Challenge: I love that I'm nerdtacular. I'm not sure whether it was when I completed my National Pokedex in Pokemon Y or when I was able to recall all 151 original Pokemon from memory, that I became a Pokemon Master. I'm sure I was a Lostie through and through by the time I made my own fan page. And my super fan Survivor status was cemented in stone by the forth time I auditioned for the show. I'm not ashamed of my nerd status. Far from it. Is it odd that I willingly wrote a college paper about zombie films and their relation to war and violence in current events? Sure it is, yet I'd choose to be interesting over being ordinary any day of the week. You can keep your fantasy football. I'll play fantasy Survivor. I can school you in bar trivia, and afterwards, I'll go get the high score on Galaga. That's what being nerdtacular is all about: being unapologetically passionate about whatever you love. Well, that's enough for my Live Together, Die Alone speech. The tribe has spoken and I've already caught 'em all, so smell ya later. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pride #pridemonth2017 #nerdtacular #gaynerd #gaymer #survivor #lost #lostie #superfan #superduperfan #buff #galaga #zombie #livetogetherdiealone #thetribehasspoken #gottacatchemall #pokemon #nerd #nerdpride
Day 18 of the Pride Month Challenge: I'm proud to be my father's son. This might be one of my most vulnerable, emotional posts. It shouldn't be. My relationship with my father isn't something that has been at the forefront of my identity. In fact, it's been strained most of the time, but I've grown thankful for the guidance and presence he has had I my life. Ever since I came out, I knew the adjustment would be difficult for him. He had dreams of me having a successful science career, marrying a woman, and having 2.5 children. When I came out, all off those went down the toilet, yet my dad stood by me. He didn't know how to support me, but he tried. I'm forever thankful for his willingness to open his mind and love me unconditionally. I recognize that my journey isn't what my dad expected for me, yet his love transcends those rudimentary boundaries, and I'm so thankful to be loved in spite of this. I look forward to a hike, a bike ride, and a trip where I can continue to grow closer, to continue to be a part of his life and develop new dreams and expectations for my life. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #fathersday #father #thankful #gay #gaydreams
Day 17 of the Pride Month Challenge: I'm proud to have an apartment. It took until I was 24 to fly completely away from the nest. No more parental assistance; no more roommates helping to keep afloat. I'm on my own. The most fun part of this, the interior decorating and shopping, has been counterbalanced by the reality of bills and expenses. Supporting myself isn't easy. Sometimes I work unconventional hours. Sometimes I work too many hours. Yet, I do it to earn a sense of comfort for my own standard of living. It's not perfect, but it gives me peace of mind. Still, I keep on working. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #apartment #home #homeiswheretheheartis
Day 16 of the Pride Month Challenge: I love that I'm hospitable. Unbeknownst to my parents, for most of my time in college, my door was unlocked. My room was the regular spot for video games and free sodas. I frequently came home from class to find friends deep into a Super Smash Bros marathon. And I loved it. Even today, I love having friends over for dinner, game nights, or parties. Call me a regular domestic, if you will. Just know that if you want an amazing home cooked meal and perfectly balanced mixed drink, all you have to do is knock on my door. I'm happy to have you over. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #gamenight #hospitable #homeforall #gay #instagay #selfie #fridayfun
Day 15 of the Pride Month Challenge: I love that I'm competitive. I come from a family where a friendly mini-golf outing means all-out-war, Monopoly means bragging rights for weeks, and Dominos could lead to an explosion of egos. Winning isn't everything, but it sure is awesome. It doesn't matter what the game is. I can hardly play a game of kickball without earning cuts, scrapes, and bruises as my battle scars. For me, games are a way to prove my abilities to myself, a way to test my mental, emotional, and physical fortitude. The only thing I enjoy more is the trash talking that goes with them. (Not that I need to call it trash talking when I can back it up.) And yes, I accept your challenge. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #competition #games #tough #gay #winner #winnerwinnerchickendinner #iwin #winwinwinnomatterwhat
Day 14 of the Pride Month Challenge: I'm proud to be a Maroon. When I was choosing which college to attend, I was split between two schools. One was in Illinois, a familiar place, and would have been filled with familiar faces. The second, Roanoke College, was in Virginia, a completely new place where I had never lived. I took a leap. I wanted to try out the South, surround myself with new people, and open myself to new experiences. Everyone I met came from different backgrounds, beliefs, and career prospects. I don't know why the school mascot is a Maroon. Is it a color or a bird? I dunno. I like the ambiguity though. I was never huge on school spirit. Still, RoCo became my home in those few years. The friends I made became my family. A big ambiguous, Maroon, diverse, talented, driven, compassionate family. I didn't go in with a clear life direction (heck, I didn't even go into college as an out gay man), but I left with a degree and newfound mission in life. And I'm forever thankful. I'm forever a Maroon. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #maroonpride #maroon #roanokecollege #roco #selfie #gayselfie #gay #college #colororbird
Day 13 of the Pride Month Challenge: I love that I'm silly. What type of person do you enjoy being around? I most like to spend time with someone who is upbeat, positive, and can make me laugh. Naturally, the person I'm around the most is myself. So why shouldn't I channel those qualities? Life is too short to take it seriously all the time, so I'm going to laugh at myself, booty bump my friends, and be the life of my own party. I don't know any other way to live. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pride #pridemonth2017 #bootybump #bootybootybooty #silly #gay
Day 12 of the Pride Month Challenge: I'm proud to be a part of the LGBTQ community. It's been one year since the Pulse shooting. I woke up to the headlines. I didn't understand the magnitude of it until later, yet in that instant, it struck me that I could easily have been in the same spot as the shooting victims. I'm young, gay, and go to bars in an anytown, USA. I struggled to communicate this to the people in my life who are unfamiliar with the gay community. The Pulse shooting was more than the largest terrorist attack since 9/11. It was an attack on the LGBTQ community. It was meant to inspire fear. Instead it united. It was driven by hate, yet all that followed was love, an outpouring of support for the victims, survivors, friends, families, first responders, and heroes involved. The LGBTQ community was united through this compassion, and remains emboldened to stand taller, be prouder, and dance through the night. #weareonepulse #onepulse #pulse #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #lgbt #lgbtq #gay #lgbtcommunity #lgbtqcommunity #gaycommunity #49 #love #lovenothate
Day 11 of the Pride Month Challenge: I'm proud to be charitable. I give money to over a half-dozen charities regularly. Each one has a cause that I believe in. Sometimes it's simply a friend's GoFundMe page. I don't do it for a tax write-off. (I don't think I make enough for it to count anyway.) One such charity is the Human Rights Campaign, who fights for basic human decencies both legally in the United States and beyond. They are one of the largest advocates for LGBTQ rights in the country. I might not be made of money. Sometimes I'm surprised I managed to cover all my bills. I would never stop giving though, for the difference I can make in this world monetarily is larger than I can even imagine. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #humanrightscampaign #hrc #charity #charities #equality #lgbt #lgbtq #gay #goodtogive
Day 10 of the Pride Month Challenge: I'm proud of my culinary skills. Having grown up on Eggo waffles, Lunchables, and Kid Cuisines, I was ill-equipped to cook for myself upon leaving for college. I was intrigued by shows like Masterchef and desired to have a healthier diet, so I began cooking. It started with disasters: burnt veggies, overseasoned pasta, and setting off a dorm fire alarm from trying to fry banana chips (Oops). By repeatedly trying and fine tuning, I've developed a passion for cooking. Now, I make a mean fish taco, meatballs from scratch, BBQ sauce, fondue, cakes, etc. The kitchen used to be merely a source for food, and now it's a place where I draw a newfound confidence. Look out dinner parties, I'm gonna cook up a storm! (Btw, the picture is a simple panfried tilapia on a bed of creamed spinach.) #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #food #foodporn #cooking #tilapia #kitchen
Day 9 of the Pride Month Challenge: I love my laugh. Comedy is probably my least favorite movie genre. So often the plots are conventional and the jokes cheesy. It seems to take a lot for me to actually laugh out loud, so when I do, it's like a Sasquatch sighting. Yet, unlike Bigfoot, my laugh can be caught on film. Sure, I could get self-conscious about my squinting eyes and how my laugh occasionally devolves into a wheezing cough, but that's just the unapologetic, happy me. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #laugh #laughter #gay #bowtie
Day 8 of the Pride Month Challenge: I'm proud of my drive. I used to think I was a failure. I've failed a lot more than I've succeeded. I've choked in auditions, bombed in classes, left workout plans incomplete, and damaged interpersonal relationships. I'll be the first to admit that I don't live up to my own potential. Then again, everyone has the ability to strive to be better than they are. I've always loved a challenge, and nothing motivates me more than people saying that I can't. I've been told that I can't pursue music or that a career in ministry would never work. I chose not to listen to this, and instead I pursued my passions and decided to worry about the consequences later. Looking at my life now, I have a career in ministry, I get to make music every day, and I am all-around secure and happy with where I am in life. I'll continue to grow still too, which means I'll have more failures to contend with, but I'll never consider myself one again. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #failure #success #faithfullylgbt #gay #gaychristian
Day 7 of the Pride Month Challenge: I love that I see the best in others. I got this shirt through my high school church youth group. I hadn't ever heard the word Agape before. Agape is love that God has for mankind. It's love in spite of imperfection, brokenness, and shame. Out of the Greek forms of love, Storge, Eros, Philios, I believe Agape is the most important to have in your life. I choose to see people through this lens. It lets me see them for their best. I don't hate anyone, and I don't hold grudges (for long anyway), because at the end of the day, we are all imperfect and broken, and how can I not love someone who's in the same boat as me? #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pride #pridemonth2017 #agape #agapelove #gaychristian #faithfullylgbt #gay
Day 6 of the Pride Month Challenge: I proud to be a choir alum. I was in fourth grade, and it was 7:30 in the morning, when my mom thought it'd be a great idea to drag me to my first choir rehearsal. She had made my brother sing in the school choir, and so she used that as justification for making me do the same. I wanted nothing to do with it. Choir was for nerds, and I was way too cool for that despite constantly playing Pokémon and reading entomology books. Flash forward ten years, and I had been singing in choirs every year since. Choir introduced me to Sinatra and the Great American Songbook. Choir introduced me to Eric Whitacre and Handel's Messiah. Perhaps most importantly, choir introduced me to worship music. Tonight, I had the blessing to welcome my high school church choir, Eagle's Wings, to perform at my current church. It was a blast from the past as I saw siblings of old friends I had sang with, as well as grown-up versions of children I had taught in Sunday school. The best part was giving back to my choir director, Lynn Panosh (pictured above), who was an integral part of me continuing in the church and developing my faith. I don't get to work with choral music all that much anymore, yet the music I learned and the relationships I developed through being in choirs will always remain dear to me. #pridemonthchallenge #pridemonth #pridemonth2017 #pride #choir #eagleswings #churchchoir #music #churchmusic #youthchoir #choirdirector #worship at Christ the King Lutheran Church
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