It was December, cold, and the worse week of the semester: finals week.
But there I sat in my residential lounge writing the essays for the Voice & Action Award application. A national student leadership award developed by Campus Pride, the nation’s leading LGBT college students centered non-profit.
I almost did not submit the application, the year before a lot of folks told me I should apply but I did not think I warranted such recognition. I submitted the application the second time around and what would come from it would change my life in a way I could not have imagined.
If you told me that I would win a national award for my work as an activist and artist, I probably would not have believed you. Then I won the award, which propelled me into a year of unimaginable opportunities.
There I stood in front of hundreds of people from all over the northeast region receiving an award and at the time, the standing ovation nearly left me speechless. It was probably one of the most surrealist moments of my life. Little did I know that it would lead me to experiencing even more opportunities that I could not even dream of.
The award had given me a bit of national exposure, which led me to start brainstorming how I would maximize on the exposure and use it as a launching pad for my career as a public speaker, activist, and writer. It was a chance for me to take what I was doing at a communal level and take it to the next level. I knew I had a voice, I knew it was my gift, and I knew I needed to find ways to share my voice with as many people as possible.
Of course the first thing that popped into my mind was that I was going to need a website, I was going to need to develop a place where I can share parts of my story. I would start off by developing a handful of workshops and see where it took me.
When I posted on my Facebook that I was looking to develop my own website, I had no idea where to begin. Luckily for me, my friend Sara was a web designer and agreed to help me. She and I put together a site that I thought was good for my first one, but soon I discovered that as my work grew, the need for a more comprehensive website became evident.
I spent the past year speaking to audiences at Harvard, New York University, Rutgers University, San Francisco State University, MassArt, and other New Jersey colleges and universities. As well as giving a TEDx Talk at Bergen Community College, which had been a bucket list item of mine. It has been a whirlwind of a year and I owe it all to the people who believed in me and continue to believe in me today. I could not have imagined any of this happening to me–a Latino who grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, gay, femme, disabled, and unafraid of living in my truth.
So after such a fantastic year filled with ups and downs, I decided it was time to relaunch a brand new site that reflects where I am today. A few months ago Sara and I met again to discuss how we could relaunch my website with my new vision in mind. I wanted something simple, polished, and organized—it was important for me that it represented every aspect of who I am and the work I do.
I’m proud of what Sara and I were able to put together and now you can read my writings directly on my website—where I will post reactions to social issues, current events, and so much more via the blog section.