This Inspirational, Out and Proud Spotlight brought to you by, Brendan Simon.
Gender Identity and Pronouns
When did you know?
I have known I was gay since I was five, but I didn’t have the language for it until I was a preteen.
When did you come out?
I was outed by an ex-boyfriend. It was one of the most spiteful and liberating things anyone has ever done to/for me. Ultimately, I’m grateful. I would have probably stayed closeted for many more years.
To whom did you come out first?
The first person I came out to was with my sister.
How did your closest friends and family react?
My family was surprisingly supportive and unsurprisingly concerned. There was an adjustment period, and now their support is really great.
How has your life been enriched by the LGBTQ Community?
The LGBTQ community is a home for me. The comradery, love, acceptance and mutual understanding are really lovely.
What are the common misconceptions about being LGBTQ?
One common misconception still faced by the community is that our trans brothers and sisters are confused about their gender. They’re not. And everyone has the right to express their gender identity however they wish.
Describe the first time someone else read you (for better or worse) as LGBTQ.
I wore a New Kids On The Block t-shirt to football practice in 7th grade. I think the whole team read me in that moment, and I was ridiculed by my teammates. Fortunately, the one adult in the scenario (our coach) made them run laps and apologize for making fun of me. The experience might have been really dangerous without that one supportive adult.
Who was your first LGBTQ role model or elder, and how did they impact you?
Doctor Miller was my music teacher in college. He lived with his husband in California’s Central Valley, which is quite conservative. They lived out loud and paved the way for me to feel comfortable in my skin.
What is the biggest external issue or challenge facing the LGBTQ community today?
If I’m being honest, I think it’s our president and the current administration. We must resist their hate and nastiness, and spread love and light.
The biggest internal issue or challenge?
Making space in the community for queer people of color, especially our trans family.
Are there any LGBTQ nonprofits whose work you especially admire?
I adore the Trevor Project. They do such valuable work and help young LGBTQ people know they are not alone.
Who is your personal Queer Hero?
Ricky Martin. He came out because he didn’t want to live in secret or lie to his kids about who their father is. He’s also dreamy. LOL
Do you have any advice for young queer folks who may still be defining their identity, coming out, or learning how to be their authentic selves in the world?
You are loved, just as you are. You belong to a very big, diverse, beautiful, strong community. We will support you. We will fight for your right to live out loud. You are not alone.
How are you involved in or how do you give back to the LGBTQ community?
I am a member the Human Rights Campaign. I am a theater practitioner, and I support the arts and artists. I work for Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre, where I teach young people across Northern California about self-care, health, and the importance of community through theater. Those are messages that transcend sexual identity.