Updated: Jul 1, 2019
In 1990, I was a student at the Art Institute of Dallas, lived in a cute studio apartment on Park Ln., and in my first years as an openly gay man, which wasn’t received well by everyone, but well enough by the ones who count. Mother, brothers, sisters, close friends ,and friends at work. I was eager to just live openly as myself , while enrolled in the video and music business program at the Art Institute. This was a wonderful creative outlet and community of cr eative kids, and we supported each other’s projects. Once I had a coworker learn a scene from a one act play, a group of boys move all my furniture from my studio apartment to the school’s studio, to video a project with the entire class acting as the crew. Some thought it was a fabulous display of initiative and logistical planning. The instructor said he never saw a student get so involved in a video project like me. In those days, I was chilled, and happy.
Rediscovering Creativity through Photography
Of course all things were not perfect then, the HIV epidemic took the lives of many of my peers, and further stigmatized the lives of the LGBT community. Discrimination came from different directions— I am black, and I am gay, so I coped. Although I experienced workplace harassment, I didn’t have the tools to really recognize it and call it out, so I changed jobs and kept working, but eventually could not afford to continue school.
However, the resilience of youth and queer resourcefulness, is nothing to scoff at. I asked God to allow me to find employment where I could earn a living, be openly gay without an issue, and I needed it to be fairly close since I didn’t drive (I didn’t get my first driver’s license until I was 24). Within 24 hours of that prayer I had a job working in a gay establishment within w alking distance of my home, by this time I lived near Gaston Ave near downtown. I was promoted to manager within 6 months, and that job really led to a career which has maintained that first prayer. I have worked in HIV and STD prevention since the mid 90’s and now live in San Francisco.
While this has been very rewarding work, I was determined to get back to the creative and academic things I stepped away from in order to gain steady employment while remaining truthful to myself navigating life’s challenges. Currently, I am a graduate student at San Francisco State University in Political Science, a Graduate Equity Fellow, Merritt Community Capital scholar, and recipient of the Barbara Jordan award for contributions in academia and Urban Studies. My undergrad in Urban Studies and Planning started my habit of taking street photos, to study public space.
Creatively, I have always loved images and stories. I was a theatre geek all through high school, studied video and acting as a young adult, continued creatively in poetry and short story throughout my adult learning experience, but photography has sparked something in me akin to those early days when I had a group of classmates moving my furniture to a school studio, with coworker in tow , and a head filled with lines from a play. I look forward to sharing one of my first photo shoots with you next week. It was a provocative shoot with a wonderful model, Derron, and the imagery was inspired by a concept of political science by Albert O. Hirschman (1970) from Exit, Voice, Loyalty. The photographs of this collection are titled No Exit, referring to our collective inability to “exit” the interdependent economic and social systems of our times. I love shooting human subjects with creative concepts, street photography, and I am trying my hand at landscape this Memorial Day weekend,
so please follow me on Instagram @PR3Creativity to see select pics from the No Exit shoot or try the PR3Creativity.com website, or Facebook, to view some of the products printed with digital art from my photographs. Let’s keep a conversation going, I know there are adult learners in schools, full time workers, single parents, and others out there, struggling to find time for creativity, I will post weekly and share some of my methods to stay connected to my creativity, as well as share my times of frustration and doubt. So watch out on your social
media feeds because I will upload my landscape pics next week!
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