All posts tagged: lgbt

The Importance Of Love

Yes, the store aisles are overstocked with romantic cards doused in corny messages, endless heart-shaped candy boxes tempting you as you walk by, and bouquets of roses that are triple the price, but I wouldn’t have it any other way once February 1st hits. Valentine’s Day is pegged as a “Hallmark Holiday,” but in a world that needs as much love as possible, I welcome the excuse to take a dedicated day to say I love you. In my eyes, this heart-shaped day isn’t just about celebrating couples. It’s a day to celebrate love in any way, shape or form: love for friends, family members, girlfriends, boyfriends, wives or husbands and perhaps most importantly, love for yourself.I believe one of the secrets to happiness is having a true love for yourself. Far too often people lose sight of this, burying themselves in worrying about what other people think or expect from them, so much that they start living life in ways that make others happy but not giving themselves what they truly want . And …

Reflecting on 2016

I find myself feeling a bit more sentimental than usual over the last few days. At the beginning of January, I always take some time to reflect on the prior year. But this year has been different — different because I find myself in a place in my life where I couldn’t feel more thankful. Thankful not for material things, but instead, for the people who mean the world to me and the new friends I met who opened my eyes to new experiences.I married someone I couldn’t imagine ever not meeting, someone who made me believe in the idea of soul mates. Marriage was never something that was important to me…but then I met Gio and marriage suddenly became one of the most important things to me. Our wedding was enchanting, something that looked like it was out of a fairytale. We were surrounded by our closest friends and family members, everyone radiating love and positivity. Our parents proudly walked down the aisle before we did, something that meant so much to us because …

Rise Up Against the Burn

The owner of a salon in my home state of New Jersey had a rainbow pride flag hanging from a flower box in front of her store. There was something special about this flag. On June 14th, it mysteriously appeared on the front step of her salon in Jersey City, the same day thousands of people came together and held a vigil in her neighborhood to honor the victims of the horrific massacre at Pulse Nightclub just two days earlier. One Monday morning, after a weekend away, the salon owner went back to work only to find that this special flag had been burned. I read this story earlier today and it hasn’t left my mind. The flag was created in 1978 and symbolizes hope, equality, acceptance and peace. To so many people in the LGBT community, the flag stood for something personal – having personal pride during a time when so many people were trying to take that away. Decades later, people are still trying to take that pride away. I know it’s not …

Ruth Coker Burks: The Cemetery Angel

I had the honor of talking with Ruth Coker Burks, a truly inspirational woman. During the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic, at a time when people knew very little about this deadly disease, Ruth took it upon herself to care for nearly 1,000 patients who had no one to turn to. Feeling abandoned, alone and scared was unacceptable to Ruth when she learned that so many dying patients needed help. Listen to the story of an incredible woman who didn’t give into fear, and became a mother to so many sick patients who so desperately needed one on my new YouTube here. 

#WorldNeedsMoreLove Challenge

In a world with so much heaviness and hatred, I want to encourage you to hold onto hope and do your part to spread love in whatever way you can. I decided to create a campaign initiative to do just that.​ Ready for the #WorldNeedsMoreLove challenge? 1. Write the name of anyone (friend, family, acquaintance) down on a piece of paper & say something kind about them 2. Snap a selfie holding the piece of paper 3. Post with the caption “I join the #WorldNeedsMoreLove challenge” on your social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook & tag 3 friends to challenge them to join the movement too!❤️ Watch my video message here. 

Pride 

It’s Pride Weekend in New York City. There are parties, parades and people coming together from all over the world to celebrate their personal pride. It’s a weekend about honoring and reflecting on where we were when the gay rights movement began, and how far we have come today. Pride to me is being confidant in every aspect of who you are. It wasn’t always easy for me to get here, but as a thirty-year old man, I can confidently say I am proud to be gay. But I am not just proud to be gay — I am also proud to be a brother, a son, a husband, an entertainer, a businessman and an entrepreneur. I am proud to be a listener, a trustworthy friend — an advocate for love and acceptance. Being gay is a piece of what makes up my identity, but there are many other things I also am, and to me, pride is being completely proud of the human being I have become. And while some may think of being …

Broadway Sings For Pride

Last night, I had the honor of co-hosting Broadway Sings For Pride, and it was truly an unforgettable event. I will be sharing more in the upcoming weeks, but for now I wanted to share a very personal speech I opened the show with: Good evening everyone! Thank you so much for joining us tonight to celebrate Broadway Sings For Pride’s 6th Annual Benefit Concert! We have an incredible night ahead, full of performances from the best of the best on Broadway, intimate stories to be shared by influential members of our community, surprise guests and more. Shortly after I got married about two months ago to my beautiful husband Gio Benitez (who is here tonight), I woke up on our honeymoon to an e-mail from the founder of this event, Neal, asking if I would co-host this event. When I found out one of the organizations that tonight benefits is the Tyler Clementi Foundation, I jumped at the opportunity. For those of you who know me or may follow me on social media, you …

The Fight For Acceptance and Respect

There is a serious problem in how we treat each other. Hiding behind a computer screen, people think they can torment, tease, and harass somebody for anything they decide is “newsworthy” enough to make fun of. But how can you expect others to accept and understand the gay community, when people in our very own community spew hatred? This is a community that already has to fight harder and louder to be heard and accepted, and yet so many use hateful rhetoric towards one another. I have been blown away by the support from so many people around the world — from mothers of gay and straight teenage boys expressing how our story of love and marriage has moved them, to helping men of all ages make steps towards coming out, to couples expressing how we have helped them make the decision to get married after being together for years. But I have also received messages from members of the gay community criticizing everything from our appearance to our intelligence. Some have even wished us …