On Machismo, Healing, and LQQK: A Queer Visual EP - Kickstarter Magazine


Growing up Puerto Rican, I felt a compulsion to fit into the standards of masculinity upheld by my father and his fathers. You know, the (stereo)typical suburban-male dream — living to love sports, cars, drinking, having a wife and 2.5 kids, playing video games, ignoring your feelings, and never letting anyone know exactly how you feel. If I didn’t abide by the unspoken codes of what it meant to be a “man” in my family, I was shamed verbally, physically, and otherwise.

Accepting pain as “normal” and leaving it unaddressed is part of what it meant to be masculine in my upbringing. I still find hidden ways in which I subscribe to these beliefs everyday life, and navigate unlearning them through conversations with my best friends….and duh, my therapist — because it’s 2019 and we should all have access to wonderful, culturally competent mental healthcare (we don’t and here’s one place you can change that).

I worked hard in high school in upstate New York, involved myself in every after school activity that would allow me to participate, took every advanced class that accepted me, and performed in lead roles in my high school’s drama club (shout out to Masque and Mime). I ended up snagging one of 40 full-ride scholarships to New York University Tisch School of the Arts where I majored in Drama. This was a blessing because it was and still is literally the gayest school on the planet and gifted me some of the best friends. The training was pretty good, too. 😉

I started dancing at 2011 at age 19 as a means to get to know my body. My best friend, Catie Davis, gave me the opportunity to create some really amazing choreographic work for musicals both major and unknown. Through a practice I developed (which I then called inTension…. lol), I would use movement as a tool to paint pictures. I choreographed pieces for stages of all sizes, bodies of all kinds, and found a love in finding space where all bodies moved freely however they were built, however they felt and whatever they ate that day, etc.

My movement practice became about actively addressing the pain while indulging the many pleasures of fully-realized self-expression. I continue to find the importance of creating a space all experiences and stories are welcome, shared, and exalted— I like to think I make work that does this, too. I often turn my work into clown pieces, where laughter around what’s happening in performance gives the audience a moment to let their guard down and really see what’s happening for what it is. This all transformed in 2015 when I decided to say “fuck it, I’m making music videos! Why? I have no idea — they’re fun, I like them, and I’m going to do it.”

The seedling idea of LQQK began in 2016. I had released three music videos by this time — two viral covers tracks, and a screen dance to a Missy Elliot track when she made her never-been-gone sweeping reveal. The live performance (then called yes this is about you from LQQK, the way I Look) featured 13 dancers, a live band, and music by the artist SOPHIE.

LQQK is a response to the cage masculinity has felt like to me. My body felt like a shell for an internal life that was misguided, and the rolodex of language we have now around identity did not exist. The idea was altered by the Orlando Pulse shooting, which felt incredibly personal as a gay person of color. It felt more important than ever to share my experience for the means of representation and presence — being alive as who I am was suddenly political.

The healing process is heard directly through the music, and I can’t wait to share the visual aspect of it, too. Here are lyrics to the second single on the LQQK EP called Like That. It’s wrote it in collaboration with Cesar G and Alexander Ronneburg. It’s about healing and understanding, and is currently the song I sing on repeat in my head.

Like That from LQQK EP

V1

I never really felt like that

Didn’t know someone could care like that

Didn’t know that you could hurt like that

Never meant to hurt you like that

I thought I was the best of me

I thought you could trust in me

And now I see the flaws in me

And I’m trying

C1

OHHH OHHHH

I’m trying

OHHH OHHHH

Come see me

V2

I know that I was preaching “us”

But really only doing me

Seems like it’s time to move on

Put the past behind me

I just started learning myself

And I hope you forgive me

And Im trying to forgive me

Ohhhh I’m trying

C2

OHHH OHHHH

I’m working

OHHH OHHHH

Come see me

BRIDGE

I laugh, I clown

I love being an ass

to give a smile in the wrong

to give beyond the past

And I fuck up sometimes and that’s alright

because I’m human

And I take shit (this) so seriously

but that’s human.

I’m learning & unlearning.

C3

OHHH OHHHH

I’m healing

OHHH OHHHH

Watch and see

V3+V4 Out

and I’ve just gotta be right now

gotta listen to everything now

Not think about anyone else

I just wanna be with myself

To share all the best of me

The part of me that makes you feel free

The part of you that makes it feel new

Cuz I love everything that you do

The part of me I hid so well

Is growing wilder and loud

It’s time to let it all out

It time to let it out

The part of me I hid so well

Is growing wilder and loud

It’s time to let it out

And I’m trying

Everyday is navigation. Everyday is worth living. Learning, growing, and giving are experiences that breed wisdom and compassion for experiences outside of our own. This is such a time of abundance. It is time to really live out loud.

To sharing more. To being more. To never giving up.

With admiration.



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