Homo Riot, in his own words: “I never thought I would be as comfortable with being gay as I am now. I grew up an only child in a very conservative community in the South. I was raised Southern Baptist and attended church three days a week and could spout off bible verses like a televangelist. But like so many gay and lesbian people, I knew from a very early time that I was gay. My problem was there were no positive gay role models for me. The only men who I even had remote contact with who were gay were the church florist (a married man with three gorgeous football player sons who was ultimately murdered by a gay hustler in a hotel room), and male hairstylists who worked at the salon where my mother got her hair done. (Ironically, most of my boyfriends have been hairdressers and florists) I was embarrassed by these effeminate and flamboyant men. I was a pretty astute kid so I picked up quickly that there were certain traits and behaviors that were desirable and others that were not acceptable. As an adolescent I was always dressed sharply, smiling and shaking hands with adults and holding doors open for old ladies. I molded myself after motivational speakers and ministers. As a teenager I was rebellious, but just to a point. I was the president of the student body, prom king and dated all the right girls. It wasn’t until I was a senior in college that I realized I couldn’t put up this front for ever.
At 25 I finally came out to my family. That was when I learned that my maternal grandfather, a man I had never met due to an ugly divorce before I was born and who died a decade prior to my coming out, was a homosexual. That rocked my world for a few weeks but in the end there was something really therapeutic and healing in that knowledge. I think it gave me strength and a sense of place within my family that I had only pretended to have before because my gayness wasn’t as foreign and “unknown” to my family as I had grown up imagining it was. My TRUTH became a badge of honor for me and I gradually began to open myself up to everyone around me. It was and continues to be an amazing and rewarding journey. I really embrace it now and obviously through my art I advocate and celebrate it.
Ultimately my homosexuality has given my art focus and direction. I’ve been a compulsive artist all of my life. I’ve felt at various times that my compulsion to create was like a sickness. My creative life has been full of manic episodes, tremendous highs and deep dark lows, and like a drug addiction, my drive to make art has disrupted my personal and professional life repeatedly. However, for the better part of my life I created art in isolation. Even as a street artist twenty years ago (before anyone called it street art) I was spray painting and bedazzling street signs and overpasses and trying to communicate with my community but always anonymously. It wasn’t until I hit the streets as Homo Riot, putting a gay spin on my work that I gained any recognition and found a framework to build from. Now my art is two fold. One side is activism and propaganda, encouraging dialogue and promoting pride, courage and strength through street art. The other side is more fine art focused, moving my street imagery in to a gallery setting, merging it with my own internal struggles, comments on life and sex and society. Maybe my art and life can be the role model for some kid today that I never had.”