WHO IS JULIAN RODRIGUEZ
My Story, My Passion, My Purpose
“The greatest decision you could EVER make is deciding to be happy”
– Julian Rodriguez
During my adolescent years, I was raised in Belleville, New Jersey, the most cliche town where no one was a stranger to one another. We all engaged in the same activities. If it wasn’t an intense game of Beer Pong at the neighborhood house party, then we were endlessly playing basketball at the schoolyard courts. If we weren’t playing basketball then we were on our way to Seaside Heights for Memorial Day Weekend getting drunk, having sex, and not worrying about any responsibilities ( as if we really had any). This was the expected lifestyle as the average teenanger growing up in New Jersey.
However, where do I fit into all of this? Growing up in Belleville there were a few things that quickly became conscious in my mind. What if I didn’t like girls? What If I was following my peers just to be one step closer on the “cool radar”? And most importantly, what the heck is a vagina!? Throughout middle and high school I began to struggle with the uncomfortable thoughts that included my identity ( Who am I and why am I here in this particular moment in time?) and my sexuality ( Is it valid to feel that tingly sensation in my stomach whenever a guy walked passed me?) Wait…… am I gay? Being unsure of myself I persistently suppressed my feelings until the next stage of my gay life. I already made up in my mind that being gay was wrong. It was all over my television and I’ve already seen how gay people in my community were treated around cisgendered heterosexual men. I couldn’t be gay, there’s just no way.
A few years pass away and I confirmed that what I felt on the inside couldn’t be any truer. However, instead of facing the internal conflict on my “gay identity” I found myself coming to terms of who I am. Rather than battling with my sexual orientation, I see myself approaching a new challenge. How do I find my place in society as a young black gay man? For now, let’s just get what I know out of the way- I am a black gay man who’s story of seeking one’s self-identity and sexuality is, in fact, similar to a lot of gay men. What you’re feeling on the inside as that unsure little boy is perfectly fine. Trust that tingly feeling, its the biological method of your body letting you know to trust it. Some may call it intuition, but I call it gay puberty!
As an undergrad, I studied Communications that focused on Media and Film. When I tell people this they usually assume that I want to be a TV personality or the next Spike Lee. While all of these are great my passion currently lies in video production because I am able to not only produce visually appealing work, but I am able to tell a story while adding value to my audience. Storytelling is a form of art that allows me to influence, inform, and entertain an audience through my realism. If you’re going to tell a story why not tell a story that influences those around you right?
My mission is to combine my passion for LGBTQ+ advocacy with the passion I have for creating written and video content. Using the element of story-telling I plan to express my lived experience and exploit the unspoken narratives that are often silenced amongst the QUEER community. No more will I go unspoken about being who I am. I have a story, no matter the good or bad, I will tell it.