Stand for Love
“I stand for being myself, fully.”
Tomás came out during his freshman year of high school and was comfortable being his vibrant self from a young age—to everyone but his mom. “I went to a very accepting performing arts school, but I was still not fully comfortable with myself outside of school. Before heading home, I’d change out of my crop-top into a sweater,” says Tomás, who commuted to school in Manhattan from Staten Island. “I was tired of it, and I wanted to be myself, fully.” When he eventually came out to his mom, he found himself without a place to call home.
This unimaginable hardship was a veiled opportunity to heal, and his difficult experience coming out to his mother became an impetus for self-discovery. Today, Tomás lives nothing but his fullest, colorful truth while delivering homemade empanadas around New York City with his grandmother.
“I stand for rebellion—for being fearless.”
As one of the first trans women to receive New York state-funded sex reassignment surgery at 21, Morgin learned to be comfortable with who she was growing up at various housing programs with other LGBTQIA+ youth. “They gave me the opportunity to be myself,” says the Bronx-born musician and writer. Reclaiming her identity at the housing programs around the city made her the woman she is today. “I’m a fearless girl. I’m a fearless artist. I’m a fearless human being.”
The community has been a tremendous support during her journey. “It’s a community that stands for resilience and freedom and power,” she says. “There’s so much power in who we are, living our truths every day because there are so many people who are against what it means being who we are.”
“I stand for being completely who you are apart from who you are told to be.”
Oskar and Alexa’s shared path of self-discovery has been the defining characteristic of their relationship. Oskar grew up in Ghana and moved to the U.S., unsure of how to navigate a gender that didn’t align with their identity. Alexa, too, spent much of their life grappling with labels and constructs. The past three years together have helped Alexa and Oskar rediscover who they are, transcending who society tells them to be.
“Coming out as nonbinary has been really liberating,” says Alexa. “It helps me feel like I’m being fully myself because I understand that gender is a social construct and I can, purely by my existence, deconstruct that construct. I’m in the process of doing that, for myself and hopefully in the ways in which I navigate with others as well."
“I stand for how much we have in common.”
Gay actor and dancer Julian was forced out of the closet at the age of 13 after two of his friends outed him in middle school. “It took me a very long time to learn how to love myself,” says Julian.
When Julian was 19, the Philadelphia native moved to New York to pursue a career in dance, and two years later, he discovered The Center, a home and resource space for the LGBTQIA+ community in Manhattan.“The Center opened up my eyes and my heart to a community that I could belong to. It allowed me to not only learn about myself, but about other people and their stories. It showed me how much we have in common within the queer community. It’s just such a beautiful thing,” says Julian.
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