Dance has taught me a lot about myself. It’s made me break down personal walls that I built up. Growing up as a boy who danced, typical things happened in school–you get bullied and made fun of–so you put up personal walls. With dance, the more that you can connect with it, the less walls you’re going to put up for yourself and the more you can tear them down and really be yourself.
I think that [dance] has challenged a lot of what I think about masculinity. I started training particularly in ballet as a kid, and there’s a lot of gender roles that are typically played in a ballet. What drew me away from ballet was modern dance and being able to do things that were less about fairytales and more about things that were happening right now in this moment.
And so that challenged me to not have a one-sided thought on how I had to look on stage and how I had to dance on stage. It let me experiment with being more fluid and being more grounded, instead of being so up and airy.
Having a chance to speak up and speak out about how art has changed me and being able to work with so many intelligent and creative men in this campaign is crucial. The #WhenMenDance campaign is really looking at the vulnerability aspect and the sensitive side of how men can relate to each other. It is important to do that because otherwise there’s a lot of testosterone in the room that wants to go at each other, proving that you’re better than each other–the alpha male, head of the pack mentality, instead of how can we grow, be, and feel together.
I think of myself as someone who is constantly learning, listening, and trying to take corrections. But I’m also someone who pushes and is always looking for the next thing, my next step. I’m comfortable in the questions and the direction, but I’m humbled by knowing I will never be perfect. So I strive to figure out the idea of what that means to me: perfection being imperfection, the journey to becoming and constantly working to arrive and climb. Always allowing yourself to slip but never letting go.
I hope that people will learn that it is okay to love yourself. It is okay to accept yourself. I struggled a lot as a dancer with my body image, how I look in the mirror compared to the next person. Even more so as a gay male, which makes you even more concerned. It can be very stressful.
One of the hardest things for me was always being told “you’re gay, since you’re a dancer.” I had to come to terms with my sexuality because a part of me always wanted to deny that I was gay. I just wanted to be a male dancer and straight to prove everyone wrong. Not necessarily to run from my sexuality but I was sick of people telling me who I had to be and was going to be. I didn’t want that.
Even though I knew inside I was gay, I didn’t want that. I just wanted to be me. I always loved dancing but I really struggled with that. Realizing that I am a gay male that dances. But because I want to be. It is who I am.