As many of you may know, I was born in New Orleans and was reared in the college town and capital city of Baton Rouge. I was an adopted child -- a “chosen one” as my mom would often say. There I lived an idyllic childhood: I walked to my local elementary school, attended Sunday school & summer camps and went from being a Cub Scout to an Eagle Scout. It was by all accounts a perfect normal life. I wanted for nothing. Until the day I realized I was different than everyone around me. I was Gay. Not long after, my feelings, my desires and the things I liked more than others were not conforming with my surroundings, my family, or the life (as I was taught and believed) was so perfect. It was then at that point I realized that who I was, what I was, and my desires had to be a secret only I knew.
For years, I connected my gayness to something that was wrong and bad -- sinful and shameful. And as a gay child growing up in a conservative and religious household, I believed that to live I must lie. Sadly, so many of us learned to be liars at such an early age. We taught ourselves that to lie is to survive. And as I grew into a young adult, it was more and more necessary to hide and lie as much as I could from my family and friends — always afraid of what would become of me if they ever knew. More and more, I did not believe I was a “Chosen One” but rather, I was a Broken One.
This all began to change when I went off to college, back to the place of my birth. The place I always felt more at home: New Orleans.
They call New Orleans “the city that care forgot,” but it’s really a place where you can go to forget your cares. To me it was an oasis in the desert landscape of South Louisiana, haunted by the ghost of all my creative muses: Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Faulkner, John Kennedy Tool and more recently Anne Rice. The city was a place that one could come to misbehave and be quickly forgiven in the morning. Here, religion was more of a suggestion rather than the rule. Here, in New Orleans, I was home.
However, old habits die hard and during my freshman year I continued to play the game of what was expected — I began dating a high school crush; she attended Tulane and I Loyola. We both rushed during Greek Week, each of us pledging and being accepted to our first choice. My fraternity was a very selective and cherished one called The Beggars — the first social order at a Jesuit University that was specially ordained by the Pope. I had arrived. I was thrilled to belong and be welcomed into what promised to be a gilded entry into New Orleans storied high society.
However, I soon realized I had just escaped the pot and into the fire. As I became aware of the daunting reality of what my life would soon become — a never ending LIE surrounded by hate, fear, homophobia, and prejudice. And soon enough, every week became HELL WEEK.
That would soon change however. The Beggars’ annual Halloween Party was one of the most notorious parties of the year — one that brought all the fraternities together. It was a hedonistic delight and all the more enjoyable because there was no class the next day, All Saints Day, a traditional Catholic holiday. It was on this night that in a drunken haze -- with my girlfriend not far off -- that I dropped my guard, gave into impulse and kissed one of my fellow pledges, one who I had been attracted to from the start. We were good friends and the kiss could have easily been written off as the bond between brothers. But this kiss lasted long on my lips. It triggered an unrelenting urge mixed with gripping fear. This was my “First Kiss” -- and it was perfect. In fact, to this day, my first sip of beer reminds me of him and our kiss.
After our moment, he looked at me with a smirk and like the jolly drunk that he was stared earnestly into my eyes and said, “I love you, man!” And that’s when I knew he would never, ever remember what just happened. But it was something I would never forget, and it changed my life forever.
The following day, All Saints Day, I decided to end the life I had lived and I choose a new beginning. And so, I look forward to sharing with you that journey both here, in these introductions and through the following mythological series, ALL SAiNTS. A project that has been created, devised and executed by one of the most beautiful and talented group of men and women I have had the joy and pleasure to work with. I will forever be grateful for their talents and efforts.
I hope you enjoy!