Bio: Everything is connected. I have to lift weights to climb better. I do yoga to keep from cramping while cycling or running. I run to keep my stamina up while dancing. I incorporate dancing into rollerskating. Most importantly, getting my daily dose of physical activity has been a great way for me to keep my mental health in check. There is a mental health stigma in the black community. Everyone has so much to say about it, without ever truly acknowledging it. I grew up playing sports and going to a dance school starting at age 4 until I was 16 years old. And anytime there was an off season, I felt “off” if I didn’t keep active. Fast forward to college, when my stress levels were at an all time high from living with a homophobic mother who had just found out I was gay, while also majoring in Biology. I didn’t trust therapists at the time, so I turned to the only “therapist” I’d ever really known: exercising. Whether it was hitting the gym, rollerskating, yoga, dancing, hiking, rock climbing, or long distance running, breaking a sweat has helped me work through most of my problems. These sports and hobbies have provided me with safe spaces and a sense of belonging through the subcommunities within the communities. This includes roller skating peaceful protests for the BLM organization, LGBT+ skate nights and “roll outs”, learning more about “melanin base camp” and getting more black and brown bodies hiking and camping, yoga for healing black trauma, and so much more. My activism and extracurricular activities are also apparent through the types of jobs I’ve booked, from American Apparel’s LGBT campaign, American Apparel’s “How We Play” campaign which highlights active people and what staying active means to them, to booking my first commercial as a roller skater. I became a yoga instructor four years ago because my regular yoga practice helped equipped me with the tools I needed to pull myself out of dark holes. Through yoga, I was also able to surround myself with an amazing, supportive community that has always been there for me. I wanted to provide similar safe spaces for people who looked like me or were also apart of the LGBT+ community. When I first started most of these sports/hobbies(and even still today), I didn’t often see individuals who looked like me. My hope is to increase that representation and visibility by inspiring other LGBT and black and black brown people to get outside more, for the sake of their mental and physical health. Through sharing my passions like roller skating and yoga on Instagram or verbally, I have already inspired both friends and family to get outside more and try new things. I continue to use yoga and other forms of physical activity as conversation starters, to open up the floor about mental and physical health and barriers within the black, brown, and LGBT+ communities.
Other activism: My friends and I created @plummerparkprotest during the BLM protests where we planned the safest and most effective ways to protest during an extremely unpredictable and terrifying time. Behind the scenes, allies have taken it upon themselves to educate themselves and start difficult conversations and address topics that may not have occurred if it wasn’t for this group of friends.