I've been wanting to share Anthony with you for a long time. I am so proud of this man, of the things he's accomplished, of the spiritual growth he's created for himself, and for the hard things he's survived. Anthony is one of my best friends and we have talked about an interview like this for quite some time. Ready to meet him?
Thank you for sharing yourself with us, Anthony. Will you tell us about where you've come from and what sparked your own personal awakening or deconstruction?
Well for starters, I grew up in a really difficult home. My dad moved us away from my mom when I was younger. I grew up with my dad and his abusive ex-girlfriend. There was so much abuse in my home. The abuse I faced early in my childhood consisted of sexual, verbal, emotional, and mental. Amidst some of the good times I had as a child, I also remember growing up and not knowing where to run to anymore. I remember going to church. It felt safe for awhile. For a while, it all felt right. I had one big secret that no one knew. I was fifteen and walked into church knowing that I was gay. I remember hearing the guys in the youth group saying things and making fun of gay boys. I remember on one occasion, someone even made fun of me because I wasn't "manly".
I was a part of the christian church for a long time, I even worked for a church too. Not all things were negative, but I started to feel abused again. This time I felt abused differently. It was more of a spiritual abuse, because I was told I was loved by a god who also hated parts of me. I always felt unworthy and ashamed. Leaders within the church bullied me and spread lies behind my back. I wasn't nice either and I take responsibility for that. At some point, I couldn't do it anymore. I left the abuse in my home on Wednesdays and Sundays to get spiritually abused at church. I want to make it clear that they hurt me in a deep deep way, but in the beginning it was beautiful. I felt so welcomed. It was a sign of hope. I'm glad I was introduced to God, but I later realized that my God(dess) is not like theirs, and that's okay and enough for me.
I'm so sorry for the pain you've experienced at the hands of religion, friend. What kind of obstacles did you face that brought deeper awareness?
I left one church to go to another where I faced oppression in a whole new way. I was the only Latino. They made jokes they thought were okay. I was still in the closet and I died everyday. I remember waking up one day and saying, "I can't hate myself anymore, I can't keep trying to be loved by others if I don't love myself". I had to choose myself. I knew that who I surrounded myself with was like drinking poison. I left church completely. I left to be my true self. In March 2017, I met up with my friend. He and I sat together and I told him that I needed to tell him something. He said, "Whats up?" I said, "I like guys." and he said, "I have something to tell you too...I'm gay". That night changed my life. Since then I have lost friendships, family support, my best friend, and more. Has it been worth it? Is it still worth it? Absolutely. Yes. Yes. Yes. I would do it again. I am so thankful for my counselor Fatima. Wherever she may be in the world, I'm sure she is killing it.
Your evolution is so powerful How has your self view and world view changed?
I have truly begun to love myself. I realized that if I had to lose everyone to love myself, I would, and I did. I also have come to the conclusion that I still Love Jesus and God(dess). I believe that Jesus has transformed my life in the most spiritual, and physically profound ways. I believe that because he did die on the cross I am free to live as my true, authentic self. I also believe that Jesus was there in the hardest times of abuse for me and not in the form of church or his people, but in a way where He (Jesus) demolished all of the toxicity that was my home life as a kid. I also now believe God(dess) is neither female nor male. I love that new belief of mine. It rings a new bell to "We are made in God's Image" because my gender expression is fluid. I wear makeup, paint my nails, and live freely. I also believe that Love Wins. One of my favorite new things about my world view is the idea that in our healing from trauma or hurt, we get to take credit for it too. We owe it to ourselves.
I love that. We owe it to ourselves. What do you believe everyone in the world deserves to have and how does that shape the way you live your life?
I believe everyone in the world deserves to have Love. I also believe that everyone deserves to have worth and to live life without shame. Because of those two statements, I am living free. I have lots of haters, but that isn't stopping me. I wear makeup. I break the "norms". I am a lover of humans.
So many other people are going through this same awakening. What advice or encouragement would you give to someone else who is going through their own deconstruction?
Remember that you deserve to be yourself. Give yourself permission to live free and radically. Don't hold back. You will find true fulfillment in that.
Now for the Oprah question: what is one thing you know for certain?
I know that I am loved, enough and worthy. I also know that I love a good highlighter.
How can people find you and/or your work?
I'm supposed to keep all of my stuff anonymous because of my profession, but people are free to follow me on Instagram at @anthonythebrownie where I will accept their requests.