We all have amazing people in our lives, and sometimes we don’t have to look any further than our own social circle to find a truly inspiring person with an opinion that should be heard. This month, coincidentally LGBT Pride Month, was huge for LGBT rights and we’ve been really eager to get someone to speak about these developments and what it means for the LGBT community, and society in general. Beutiful’s very own Lauren (you may recognize her name from all her awesome articles and facebook posts) took the time to interview her friend Roxi Ocasio, an openly gay musician.
With the recent decision made by the Supreme Court to throw out DOMA and Proposition 8, I feel so honored to bring an interview with my long time friend Roxi Ocasio. She is an incredibly talented musician, who also happens to be openly gay. Roxi and I met while attending elementary school, Holy Angels. Even though we lost touch when we went to different high schools, Roxi was always there for me and filled my life with laughter. I consider her to be one of the greatest friends I’ve had in my life.We’ve reconnected now and I’ve attended a few of her awesome gigs on Long Island. She’s an amazing guitar player and incredible songwriter, you can feel her emotions when she sings. If you’re in the NY/Long Island area you have to check her out! Below is an interview with Roxi about her personal experiences and thoughts on what it is like coming out and being openly gay.
What was “coming out” like for you?
I knew I was gay since before I could concretely understand that concept, but definitely felt threatened to not fully express that. Being raised within the confines of private Catholic schools from K-12 and a rigidly vanilla Long Island community can create that fear. I struggled with an eating disorder throughout my high school years and a few years thereafter to cope with the stress that those feelings of “unseen-ness” brought forth. When I was a kid growing up in a default-ly religious family, sexuality in general was just something you weren’t really “allowed” to talk about. I say “default-ly” religious because I don’t think my parents ever really examined whether religion was a healthy thing to shape the mind of a delicate life. It wasn’t their fault, but as a kid, you don’t have that discretion to filter. I was openly gay to my friends and sister by age 15. It took a lot of bravery and positive self-talk to create a space where I felt safe in being who I was and not being ashamed of it.
How did song writing help with expressing yourself and your sexuality?
Artistic expression and sexual expression go hand in hand for me. I’ve observed that society kind of demonizes true sexual expression by creating a host of violent stereotypes around it… It’s a fear-based system really, as any socially aware adult learns. It took me years to knock down that wall and unlearn so much harmful and self-deprecating philosophy. The song “King Too” is about that struggle with society’s expectations of what love should be. I feel love is genderless, as the song conveys. The music I create is kind of a heat seeking missile examining that fluidity and intensity of sexuality …and how important it is to not ignore that portion of yourself, regardless of your sexual orientation. I see my sexuality as my core and prime driver.
What are your thoughts on same sex marriage not being universal, do you think equality will happen within your lifetime?
As any gay activist will agree, it’s ridiculous. But I say it’s ridiculous because of the inequality it imposes on end of life situations, such as hospital rights & visitation which prohibit same-sex significant others, tax stipulations, and health benefit positions in certain states. I truthfully think marriage in general should be unnecessary to be granted those things – gay or straight. It’s a dinosaur institution that has no true validity and is simply a government implemented system to gain income from the people. The wheels of commerce keep turning. I know that’s a bold statement. I’d urge the gay youth to be aware that no piece of paper can dictate how committed you are to your lover and to not be discouraged. It’s unfortunate that this is the position we are in, but this is a time where the people are rising up and taking back their rights from laws imposed. People just have to keep talking about it and acting towards it (equality). Music definitely serves as one of those vehicles of action, and mass media visible bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs putting their name behind the cause is always an enormous awareness booster.
Does your sexuality impose any challenges upon your life? What is the biggest one?
It doesn’t, but I see so many celebrities and professionals in this world dodging the truth about their sexuality, which annoys and devastates me. I think we’re still, as a country, in this mindset that it will somehow negatively affect us. Until people stand up and stand bold consistently, declaring that being homosexual is not an affliction – in our families, in our workplaces, in our schools, in our entertainment industry…we will face discrimination. It’s how we navigate that challenge that defines us as equals in a governmental sense. We are already equal spiritually, with nothing to prove. The point is, your personal freedom is your freedom, no one can take that from you.
Roxi Ocasio and Peter Coiro will be releasing the EP “AtrioVentricular” by early August 2013, and the full length album by Fall 2013. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter (@Roxi_and_Pete), and don’t forget to check out her website!