By the end of 2017, I was ready to give up the whole blogging thing, once and for all. But in my last attempt to finding someone to partner up with, I met Chel Wardell – who became my “full time” photographer. This 2018 partnership fired up my creativity, allowing me to focus on the quality of the content, rather than on the quantity.
At the same time, I became a little bit better at managing my financial situation. Not having a steady income can take a toll on me very quickly. But instead of worrying about it, I was proactive about it. I put to work some of my other skills, and I found creative solutions to earn some extra cash.
There were many challenges in 2018, but also new friendships, laughs, tears – especially during the summer – and some boys… (OK! more like several boys). Altogether, looking back, 2018 was a fantastic year. Here’s why…
Most Popular Looks
There are too many to choose from, but I picked the ones that truly represent my personality these days: worldly, quirky and fearless. My wardrobe philosophy for 2018 was that as long as I looked good in it and it looked like something out of a magazine I was going to wear it.
2018 proved to be the most profitable year – regarding paid collaborations. But I still have a long way to go before my blog and Instagram can become a reliable source of income. Regardless, having the opportunity to work with SHOWTIME, CASIO, The Glentlivet, MAZDA, OLIVERS, Tomboyx, American Fighter, and Nurx App among others was indeed an honor. I also had the opportunity to become a contributor for Hornet Stories, which validated me as a legitimate LGBTQ journalist.
Surreal Travel Destinations
Concerning traveling, we were off to a rocky start. Chelsea and I were supposed to go to upstate New York for a press trip the first week in January. However, she couldn’t make it to NYC in time because of the “bomb cyclone.” Since I didn’t have any other photographer lined up, I had no choice but to cancel. She eventually made it into the city, and we had the chance to shoot incredible stuff. We also went to Houston and Mendocino County together, where we were in AWE throughout the whole trip.
I visited NYC a few more times by myself, for NYFW and during the summer, which allowed me to go to Fire Island. I also went to Los Angeles, Palm Springs (White Party) and Austin. For my birthday I went to Las Vegas for the first time. Where I also went on my first helicopter ride to the magnificent Grand Canyon.
Some Memorable Moments
The thing that I’m most proud about when considering my accomplishments in 2018 is how I channeled my influence to support my LGBTQ community. In terms of content, 2018 was the queerest year my blog has seen. From covering DIFFA, Oasis (Aly Forney Center’s summer fundraising) and The Teddy Bear Party – to mention some, to raising more than a thousand dollars for LifeWalk with a Naked Yoga Mixer during Dallas Pride. Not only did I feature LGBTQ events but also brands with Pride collections such as Rumpl, 2xist and Harry’s. After all, being gay is being fabulous!
2018 was also the year when I became serious about my fitness journey – for the right reasons! I started eating healthier (mostly because I was cooking HelloFresh almost every day). At the same time, I added high-intensity training – via Class Studios, to my yoga practice. Eventually found my gym: F45 Training. The 45-minute HIIT classes are a mix of cardio and strength moves that challenge your body beyond what you think it’s capable of. The intervals are sharp and short, so there isn’t room to get bored. It also means I don’t do any of the exercises long enough to hate them.
Additionally, I started listening to podcasts – Bulletproof Radio, The School of Greatness and How I Built This, among my favorites – every morning while having breakfast, which led me to discover some incredible reading resources. From The Power of Now I learned to live in the present and to shut down my inner voice, and from The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck I discovered how to be patient and prioritize what’s essential in my life while accepting that, sometimes, life just sucks!
Bad and Ugly
But the world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, in 2018 I experienced the most censorship from Instagram whenever I would post a naked picture. Being comfortable with my body – and sexuality, ultimately came to bite me in the ass (pun intended) when I was pulled out of a Super Bowl campaign with Michelob Ultra. After I had already shot and posted imagery I had created for the said campaign… I received an email from the influencer marketing agency stating that, and I quote: “Michelob is not comfortable with you promoting the brand alongside other, more risque content posted on your social channels, and we need you to remove your Michelob content immediately from all social channels.”
I understand that brands have specific guidelines to follow when partnering with influencers and other identities to promote them. Nonetheless, it was frustrating that I didn’t get to be part of that campaign after I had already finished creating the content. Obviously, someone didn’t do their research… It’s not like you can’t see I’m gay or naked in all my social channels, my ass is literally everywhere… Which made me wonder, is Michelob Ultra homophobic? Maybe? Honestly, I couldn’t care less. I wouldn’t want to partner up with a brand that doesn’t support my community or me either. But, in all fairness, I was paid in full for the campaign – even though I wasn’t able to post any content from it!
Personal Motto: Confidence Counts
In 2018 I decided to strip off my clothes and to show off my body. I did this because I wanted my followers to see that it isn’t perfect, nor muscular, but yet that doesn’t mean I should feel like I have to hide it. I was beyond humbled and grateful for the positive messages I received regarding my underwear Insta Stories and nude photos. I’m very comfortable in my own skin. But to be honest, when it comes to being nude, I also get self-conscious about my body. In a gay world where hyper sensualization of muscular, (often artificial) Adonis-like bodies is the norm, how could I not?
I can acknowledge that your messages gave me the courage to continue showing the real me and to be proud of it. Would I like to have a six pack? Of course. However, not having one doesn’t make me less sexy. Being confident does.
We as a community need to stop praising ripped, white, cisgender men as the standard of male beauty. Our bodies are the canvas we use to tell the world who we are, regardless of age, race, gender or body type. At the end of the day, every(body) is beautiful.
I don’t prescribe to making resolutions anymore because I never fulfill them. Instead, for 2019 I’m going to set some intentions:
To love my life no matter what, to enjoy what I do, to make a difference by being a positive impact on those whose lives cross with mine and to learn from every connection, and to always grow while providing support to those growing around me.
Since I’m always evolving and looking to improve myself, I’ve created a new “outlet” to talk about all things travel, gay and chic… Make sure to follow @travelgaystyle on Instagram that I will be launching soon. I have big plans for it, stay tuned!
And so another adventure begins…bring it on 2019!
Not just a pretty face