Jimmy, in his own words: “Raised in rural Nebraska, I grew up dividing my time between working cattle with my father and doing craft projects with my mother. At age 4 I announced to my family that I would one day move to New York City, which I did 13 years ago at age 26. I already knew at just 4 years of age that I was different and didn’t fit in. It was hard growing up gay in Nebraska. It was devastating being effeminate and the son of an alcoholic rodeo cowboy with a heavy hand. I was bullied non-stop at school and afraid to tell my family about it when I got home. Every night I prayed to God to make me normal.
I came out as soon as I went to college. It was such a relief. I remember laughing and dancing with joy. I didn’t tell my family right away, but I came out to friends and become a part of the gay community in Lincoln, Nebraska. My younger brother caught wind of it and outed me to my family, teachers and Catholic priest. Years later my brother would also come out so I’d like to think that he did it to test the waters and not because he was trying hurt me. The priest pulled me aside one day and told me that I was an amazing human being and that God loved me just as I am. I’ll never forget his kindness. My father told my mother that he wanted me to go to a psychiatrist and get fixed. She told him to get over it. She told me that it was ok I was gay because I was so smart and talented, which led me to wonder how she would have felt if I’d been talentless and stupid.
Coming out was a relief, but it didn’t immediately end the pain and suffering of being bullied, abused and feeling so out of place. I was still broken and confused, and I had difficulty connecting with the world. I ended up making a lot of bad decisions. I stumbled through poverty, sexual misadventures, bad relationships and drug abuse. But I never gave up hope that the difficulties would pass and I would find my place in the world.
Curiosity and creativity burn brightly inside me and are far more powerful than the dark times ever were. I know it’s what kept me alive, kept me moving forward, and drove me to always learn new things, taste new food, hear new music, see new art, visit new places, and meet new people. This year I visited three new countries, started kick-boxing, learned to play the ukulele, became certified as a yoga instructor, started writing poetry, and I’ve just begun a year long personal wellness training. I’ve lived in 7 different states and had several careers. I’ve been a cowboy, a waiter, a cook, a dancer/singer/actor/musician, an art consultant, a marketing coordinator, a web designer, an illustrator, a photographer, a creative consultant for reality TV, a creative director, an editor, a photographer, and a yoga teacher. Today I work as a digital creative in magazine publishing. I’m sure I’ll have many more careers before I leave this planet.
Lately I’ve been building a community around myself of like-minded gay men. Men who live soulful, compassionate lives. Men who are grounded in their own sexuality, who love one another, love themselves, love the planet, and aren’t afraid to talk about god. Men who choose not to be victims of their past. Men who understand that the way to make the world a better place is to be of service to another human being. Fearless men who enjoy expressing themselves and understand the intimacy that comes from being vulnerable.
I have no regrets about anything I’ve done or anything that’s happened to me in this lifetime. I’m told that if you aren’t making any mistakes then you probably aren’t trying hard enough. I’m only 39 years old, but I’m happy to say that I’ve made enough mistakes for a few lifetimes. I hope to make many more.
So far, It’s been an amazing ride.”