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Ace Daniels interview, June 2019: transcript

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2019-06-15
2019-06-22
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Interviewed by Monserrath Hernández and Rodrigo Vazquez. Born (1985) and raised in Nevada, Ace is the Senior Conference Sales Manager at Wynn and Encore. His parents immigrated from Dominican Republic and are casino dealers. Ace is a UNLV graduate with degrees in Business and in Theatre Arts. Enthusiastic support of local theatre arts, he is active with the Super Summer Theatre Advisory Board. Married to Raul Daniels.

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Daniels, Ace Interview, 2019 June. OH-03685. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d1m61fh5d

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i AN INTERVIEW WITH AMILCAR “ACE” DANIELS An Oral History Conducted by Rodrigo Vazquez & Monserrath Hernández Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2018 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez, Elsa Lopez Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Monserrath Hernández, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Marcela Rodriquez-Campo, Rodrigo Vazquez iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE The story of one’s name can significantly reveal much about a person. And when you meet the effervescent Ace Daniels, you want to know immediately how he came to be called Ace. His name-story connects him to his heritage and to the person he has become. It reveals that his parents are Dominican immigrants who named him Amilcar Ramos. He discloses that his early grade school years he was tormented by others who had difficulty with the pronunciation of Amilcar. Then, in sixth grade, a teacher offered up that a nickname might be helpful; she astutely guided him to the name Ace, because he always aced his English tests. The name stuck. As for his last name, Ramos, that changed when he and Raul Daniels married. It became even more special when the couple adopted their son Alec Paris Daniels. In this oral history, Ace Daniels shares an honest look at his life: his pride of his Dominican heritage; his passion for the arts, especially musical performance; his dedication in his career in hotel sales and convention services; his love for Raul and Alec; self-respect within the LGBTQ community. v Ace is a born and raised Las Vegan and a graduate of Palo Verde High School, where he first encountered the joy of live theatre. He is a longtime and devoted employee of Wynn Las Vegas. His career began in 2007 as a member of the guest services team. He has since worked his way up to become the current Senior Conference Sales Manager. Ace is a UNLV alumnus with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (2005) and bachelor’s degree in theatre arts (2007). He is an active supporter of the Las Vegas arts scene and maintains a passionate presence with the Super Summer Theatre as a performer, director, and member of the organization’s advisory board. vi TABLE OF CONTENTS An Oral History Interview of Ace Daniels June 15 & June 22, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Rodrigo Vazquez & Monserrath Hernández Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Session 1 Talks about being born in 1982 Las Vegas; his Arville Apartments neighborhood near Alta and Rainbow streets; Rose Warren Elementary School; NALA preschool; early awareness of his sexuality that resulted in his being very shy. Shares his Dominican parents story, their courtship, relocating to New York City, the Washington Heights area, and move to Las Vegas by the early 1980s to work in a casino, their lack of formal education and language obstacles; Describes his experiences of living in Dominican Republican for a few months when grade school age; preserving his Spanish language skills………………………………………………………..1 – 8 Describes growing up in Las Vegas; family, with lots of cousins, who moved here; mother as the matriarch of the extended family; club for Dominicans; growing up Catholic; his relationship with his religion today. Talks about coming out at age 19; 2001 graduate of Palo Verde High School; attended College of Southern Nevada (CSN), then University of Nevada, Reno and UNLV. How his parents reacted to his coming out; learning about AIDS, Gay and Lesbian Center’s free testing, early college experiences; first hospitality job at Caesars Palace while going to college. Time backpacking in sixteen countries and coming of age……………………………………….;9 – 22 Talks about working at Utah Shakespeare Festival, gay bars, growing circle of LGBT friends; applied for a position at Wynn’s front desk and was hired on the spot. Travelled to Gay Prides around the country; theater studies still important to him. Meeting and marrying Raul Daniels. Hospitality career opportunities, convention hotel sales, meeting events industry; describes his position and responsibilities of his department………………………….………………….23 – 30 Shares how his passion for live theater began in his youth; his deep appreciation for classical music, plays cello and violin; Las Vegas Youth Orchestra. Became inspired with drama at Palo Verde High School’s Drama Club; his advocacy for performing art in Las Vegas and balancing that with his career in hospitality. Mentions being voted Most Likely to be Famous from his senior class, avoided bullying despite being effeminate; about being cast in local productions of Les Misérables and Tarzan; involvement with Super Summer Theatre, upcoming production of Annie………………………………………………………………………………….……..30 – 38 vii Talks about how he and Raul explored options to having a family, learning of Independent Adoption Center and open adoption, required workshop, and the process of the adoption of their son Alec (b. 2013), they were very public and received some criticism from peers in the LGBTQ community; birth mother’s decision making……………………………………………….39 – 49 Discusses his name, Amilcar and how the nickname of Ace began in grade school, mother’s feelings about that. Talks about being a minority person in his department where there no others, living “white” ; importance of maintaining cultural identity. Changing his last name from Ramos to Daniels when he married. Talks about his feelings regarding Latino representation in theater; learning about In the Heights and taking his mother to see it the Dominican culture represented on stage; his being cast in a 2017 production of the same play, personal attachment to the story; his other’s motto that “family is everything.” Talks about introducing his son the his grandparents when they arrived back in Las Vegas from Virginia..……………………………………..50 – 60 Talks about the term “Latinx”; he uses the identifiers of Latino and/or Dominican…….…61 – 62 Session 2 Talks about his current directing of Annie, preparation for this commitment, Annie Junior version, coming to understand the storyline’s timelessness in the context of 2008 and now in terms of uncertainties in 2019. Explains the Super Summer Theatre, nonprofit arts organization, locate at Spring Mountain Ranch; his introduction to musical theater, auditioning for West Side Story; In the Heights. Increased number of local community theater options that exist now, such as Public Fit Theatre Company………………………………………………………………………..63 – 72 Explains being an adjudicator for the Las Vegas Valley Theatre Awards. Signature Productions. Majestic’s production of The Legend of Georgia McBride about an Elvis impersonator and drag queens; RuPaul’s Drag Race television show……………………………………………....73 – 77 Talks about Pride in Las Vegas being held in fall months rather than heat of summer; thoughts of the fifty years since Stonewall Riots and marginalized persons, as a Latino. Mentions Vegas Arts Table which brings different arts stakeholders together to promote arts and sort out the challenges; Raul and his belief in the Vegas arts culture………………………………………………..78 – 84 Shares his thoughts about the Great Recession, during which he was living in his parents home; attended UNLV for a business degree, marketing emphasis; worked at Wynn and changed to hospitality; father quit working, mother supported the family; his mom’s goal to avoid foreclosure and keep her dream home; when everything began to crash; caliber of clientele changed in hotel. Mother the matriarch and anchor of the family; works as a dealer ever since she came to Las Vegas; hearing Caribbean accents; living with his husband’s Mexican accent; diversity within the Latinx cultures……………………………………………………………………………….……..85 – 92 viii Recalls a trip to Madrid, Spain when in his 20s and being shy to speak Spanish due to his accent; conversation about colorism; transgender persons. Talks about volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Nevada and concerns about who he might be paired up with and who ended up being closeted Latino, talking with the boy’s mother, invited him to AFAN Walk. His belief in the value of college education…………………………………………………………..………93 – 98 Personal thoughts about coming out to family; his mother’s reaction and support of him. Story of how he and Raul met at the Black and White Party, deciding to move in together, becoming engaged; trip to Paris………………………………………………………………………99 – 105 Talks about living downtown: on Las Vegas Blvd., Soho Lofts, Juhl, East Fremont, El Cortez, Fremont Street Experience, Arts District and First Fridays. Gives context to when he and Raul were legally married, a 2013 destination wedding in Laguna Beach, CA., and some closing summary thoughts…………………………………………………………………….…..106 – 115 ix 1 SESSION 1 Today is Saturday, June 15, 2019, and I am in the Oral History Research Center. My name is Rodrigo Vazquez. Here with me are… Barbara Tabach. And Monserrath Hernandez. And Ace Daniels. Ace, could you please spell out your first and last name for me? Yes, I will. A-C-E. Last name Daniels, D-A-N-I-E-L-S. And my birth first name is Amilcar; that is spelled A-M-I-L-C-A-R. Thank you. We can start with your childhood. Tell me about your childhood, like where were you born; where were you raised? I was born here in Las Vegas, November second, 1982. Raised here in Southern Nevada, in Las Vegas. Elaborate more on what childhood was like? MH: …what part of Las Vegas did you grow up in? Ah, good question. I grew up on Reggie Circle, which the closest major cross streets are Alta and Rainbow. I remember living in an apartment off of Arville and Sahara; I have some memory of that. We used to call it the Arville Apartments. I’m not sure if that’s actually what it’s still called. I’ve had a lot of family members that have lived in that apartment complex. But majority of my childhood I remember growing up on Reggie Circle. What was your school like? Which schools did you go to here? I went to Rose Warren Elementary School. I do have memory of going to NALA preschool, which was here downtown. I don’t really have a lot of memory before the age of five for some 2 reason. I was telling my husband [Raul Daniels] just the other day—because my son is three years old and he’s got this incredible memory. I’m like, I don’t remember anything before five. I went to NALA preschool. I remember some dances that we did. I played Prince Charming in Cinderella at Rose Warren. I did really well academically. I got really good grades. I wouldn’t describe myself as a teacher’s pet, but well-behaved, well-mannered, shy kid, but did really well with academics. Was not into sports by any means. I knew that I was different growing up. I didn’t know how to describe that. I just knew as early as kindergarten, I was probably five or six years old. I remember being attracted to members of the same sex. I knew that early that I was different. I just didn’t know what that was called. I had never heard the word gay. That wouldn’t come until further down into my childhood when I would finally start to hear that word and what sort of connotations people associated with it. But I do remember that I was, I wouldn’t say sexually attracted, but you know who you’re drawn to. I liked to hang out with the girls, but I was always like, oh that boy is cute, hee-hee-hee, from a very early age. When did you realize your sexuality? There’s a time in every boy’s life where they start to become aware of their body, so I think at that point. Use your imagination and you start to experiment with certain things, like with yourself. At that time I wasn’t thinking of the opposite sex. I was thinking of… The physical pleasure. Yes. But in my mind it was peers of mine that were in my age group, so that time I knew. How did you feel about that? Were you scared? Were you confused? Was it normal for you, but then you thought different for other people? 3 It was my normal, but I knew that it was different, and it wasn’t something that was okay. I remember in junior high, so we’re talking eleven, twelve, thirteen years old now, at that time then I started to identify other boys who were also effeminate. I didn’t know what that word effeminate meant, or I had never heard it, but I was aware that I was effeminate for a boy, and it’s something that you’re not proud of, but it’s who you are and you try to hide that. I started to notice other boys that were also effeminates. Maybe they’re like me. But you don’t know because you don’t talk to each other about it. It’s something that you try to just hide. But all of us, and there was just like a handful of us, we typically hung out with girls. That was more of our comfort level. I hated PE. I hated PE with a passion because I was always with the boys. Kids can be really cruel, really cruel. I wasn’t good at sports, always picked last. I would hang out in the field and hope that the ball doesn’t come to me. I remember my mom had me play baseball growing up and I hated it with a passion. I didn’t want to get dirty. I wanted my uniform to stay pristine. I was in the outfield, just hoping that the ball wasn’t going to come to me. Yes, I knew I was different. How would you hide those differences? I think just to play down. I think that’s why I was so in my shell and so shy publicly, because I didn’t feel comfortable being who I authentically was because it wasn’t okay. BT: Because the cultural part of this is the focus of this project, let’s talk a bit about your cultural background. Your parents immigrated here? Yes, absolutely. Tell that story and then maybe these topics will kind of merge together, too. I am Dominican, a hundred percent. My parents were born and raised in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. In terms of what I understand about their story—actually 4 I’ve been to Santo Domingo to the street that they grew up on. They grew up in what would be the ghetto, a very, very poor neighborhood in Santo Domingo. I’ve seen the house that my mom actually grew up in and the house that my dad grew up in. It is just a little bit bigger than this room that we’re sitting in. They lived on the same block, which to me is so crazy that two people who grew up on the same street would end up getting married. For us today that idea sounds so crazy to me that they would end up getting married and they’re still together after forty-plus years. From what I understand my mom is probably a little shy of ten years younger than my dad, and he was kind of a playboy and she didn’t really give him the time of day. And then when he finally started courting her, she said, “Okay, no more playboy if this is going to happen. It’s just got to be us two.” Then they ended up getting married in Santo Domingo. And then they went to New York, to Washington Heights where all Dominicans end up relocating to, and they lived there for a period. Then my dad came to Las Vegas. He came first so that he could get settled here. But I believe what drew him to Las Vegas, we’re talking early eighties, late seventies, Vegas was really booming and growing in terms of the gaming industry; that’s really what was here. My dad worked in the very small gaming industry in Santo Domingo. I wouldn’t really describe them as having a gaming industry, but there was a casino that he worked at. My parents don’t have any higher than a high school education, so at the time that’s the skills that you; that’s the experience that you have. So he came here to Las Vegas, got settled in, and then my mom came after. I learned that my mom, freshman year of community college she actually stopped going to school because she hadn’t learned how to speak English yet and she was really intimidated 5 because of the…she just wasn’t bilingual yet, and so that fear kept her from going to school and finishing school. They don’t have much higher than a high school education. Anyway, my mom came here, and that’s where I was born, the first of three, and we’ve been here ever since. I’ve got a young brother by three years and a younger sister by nine years. Same set of parents. MH: Growing up, what were your parents like in the household? I grew up in a very, very Latino household. Did you speak Spanish? Spanish was my very first language. I’ve mentioned that I don’t have any memory earlier than five years old, but Spanish was my first and primary language, and my understanding is that as I entered the public school system, right before that my dad started speaking to me in English so that I could learn the language. Naturally, when you’re in a predominantly English-speaking environment and you’re speaking less and less of Spanish…At home I would speak to my mother in Spanish because she required that; she didn’t want us to lose our Spanish. But once my dad started speaking to us in English that became a habit between us and my siblings and we’ve never broken that habit. So I speak to my father in English and to my mother in Spanish. But she was very adamant about “speaking Spanish in this household because outside of this, I don’t want you to lose your heritage.” Your roots. Your roots, yes. Growing up I remember that my dad was an inspiring entrepreneur and there were periods where he would live with an uncle of mine, like to New York. At that time, I didn’t understand what they were doing. I just knew that they were trying to become businessmen; they put it to me in those terms. Now looking back, I’m like, okay, he had entrepreneur aspirations; he 6 was doing something that was marketing related. They would be gone for periods at a time, and it was must myself, my mom, and my brother who is three years younger. I have a lot of that memory. My mom had to really be the breadwinner for a lot of that. My mom supported him through his dreams and just stayed working in casinos. She got a job as a dealer and she still to this day is a dealer. She would take care of my brother and I while being the breadwinner so that my dad can go and chase his dreams. Before my sister came along, I remember my dad coming back when that wasn’t working and he was Mr. Mom for a while. My mom was still working, and my dad would stay home with my brother and I. Then my sister came along and they knew that they couldn’t survive under one income, so my dad went back into gaming. He worked until he just got tired of the…he hated casino with a passion, but he had to do what he had to do to provide for his family. I believe it was in ’08 because everything was kind of falling apart, or prior to that he left his job and said, “I’m retiring.” BT: You said he was a dealer? He was a dealer, yes. What game? I don’t know what they deal. I want to say my mom deals blackjack. I don’t know the games myself. Growing up here, you would think, but casino doesn’t do anything for me. MH: What casinos did they work in? My dad, I remember, worked at Palace Station when I was a young kid. When he went back to work after his entrepreneurial dreams just did not work out, he worked at the Santa Fe, which is part of Station Casinos, and then he worked at the Rio, and I remember him working at the Rio up until that moment when he finally decided that he wasn’t going to do gaming anymore. 7 My mom, I have memory of her working at the California. I believe that was her first casino job. Then she started working at Caesars and she’s been there for twenty-plus years; she’s still there. My mom doesn’t have any intention of quitting her job. A, she provides for both of them and she just needs to keep working. As she says, she’ll die on her feet, working. Would you guys visit the Dominican Republic growing up, or when did you first go to Santo Domingo? I know that we visited while I was a child. I have vague memory of someone giving me a bath and it was outside in literally like a tub, like a big tin tub where they just pour the water and pour the water over your head. Cubetazos? Yes, yes. I have vague memory of that for some reason. That’s the only memory I have as a little kid. Then I do remember when I was between fifth grade and sixth grade, my mother sent my brother and I to the Dominican Republic for three months; her intention behind that was so that we can improve upon our Spanish because at that point, now we’re starting to lose our Spanish because we’re living in a Spanish-speaking home, but we’re spending a lot of time outside, which is just a very American community, watching American television. She sent us away so that we could work on our Spanish. We were in Santiago, which is the middle of the country, because she has an aunt there. We spent our entire summer there. I remember feeling miserable. Looking back, I felt like a spoiled kid, looking back, because maturity-wise I wasn’t in a place where I could look at my surroundings and just be appreciative of what I had back home. Instead, I was like, why am I here? Why am I here? I didn’t understand why I was there. Almost like, I can’t believe that people really live like this. You take for granted the comfort that you grow up in. 8 BT: We’re privileged here. Exactly. At that age I just wasn’t mature enough to step back and really have an appreciation. I was just a spoiled kid at that moment. MH: Did you feel like your family in Dominican Republic didn’t accept you because of the language? How did your language develop in those three months that you were there? I think mine certainly improved. It improved, but then you come back and you go back to your norm and you start to lose it again. It was helpful. But at that point I didn’t appreciate being there. Now, looking back, I’m glad that I had that experience. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I just wish I would have accepted it a different way at that time. Was that only time you’ve been back? No. I’ve gone back for vacation, but that was the longest stretch I ever had there. My mom eventually then came and got my brother and I and took us to the capital, Santo Domingo, and that’s when she took us around and we met lots of family members who I had never met or don’t have memory of. She took us to her neighborhood where she grew up and that’s where I got to see that. I remember walking into the home that my father grew up in and I met my grandpa for the first time on my dad’s side. I don’t have memory of my grandparents on my mom’s side, but there is pictures of myself as a baby and them two. From what I understand they definitely adored me. I just don’t have any memory of them. I remember growing up with my grandmother on my dad’s side who lived in New York and would spend some time here in Las Vegas. But my father’s father, I don’t have any memory of him ever talking about his own father, and then I walked into the house that he grew up in and there was this man in the back room. My mother started talking to him. She obviously knew who 9 this was. Then she said, “Oh, this is your grandpa.” And it was so strange because I was being introduced, to me, what felt like a stranger and this is someone that I really have no relationship with. He was blind. It was just really interesting to receive that at that age. It was like, oh wow, this is my grandpa, but it feels like a stranger to me and he can’t even see me. I remember the home feeling like a shack, really small and rundown. MH: What was that neighborhood like when you were growing up on Alta and Rainbow? Was it Latino based? Has it changed since the time you were there? At the time culturally I believe we were the only Hispanic family on that street. It wasn’t the type of neighborhood where you really get to know your neighbors, but I feel like that’s Vegas in general; you don’t really get to know who you live next to. There were a few houses where there were kids and we developed friendships with them and we’d play out in the street a lot. We played in the street a lot. It’s not like today where kids are constantly inside and attached to iPads and TV and YouTube. My brother and I played outside a lot, until the sun went down and it was time to come in. We had a very active childhood and we had a friendships with a bunch of the kids in the neighborhood. There was a family that lived across the street from us and a few houses over and we got to know them pretty well. We would carpool to school together or walk to school together. I don’t believe they were Latino. They might have been half-Latino and something else, but they weren’t as entrenched into their cultural roots like we were. You step into my house and it feels very different than the outside environment; it is Dominican; it is loud; it is very Latino. Can you describe it? Cultural attitudes. I grew up with lots of cousins. When my dad came out here and got settled and my mom came, a lot of aunts and uncles relocated as well and came shortly thereafter. 10 Growing up I was surrounded by a lot of cousins. Family was always coming over. I’ve always described my mom as the matriarch of the entire extended family. She is like the glue that holds everyone together. People were always coming to our house for parties whether they were holiday parties. It felt like once a week, on Sundays, Sundays is family day in my family because most of my relatives have Sunday and Monday off. They all work in the gaming industry, by the way. Everyone works in gaming. They all do the same thing. But everyone has always kept those two days off, so Sunday was always a family day, Sunday nights. Growing up I just remember always being surrounded by cousins, and those were really my true closest friends who I could be my most authentic self with. I don’t look back on my childhood and remember being super close with kids at school, per se. It was my cousins who were my best friends. We all differed by age, but we just saw each other on a consistent basis. That’s what made it feel very Latino. Here in Vegas, you don’t see that as much with white families. But for us it was constantly being surrounded by such a large, huge family, a very loud family. They were conservative in how they saw life. I think by the time I started to come out, which was at nineteen years of age, by the way, they were—my parents are very conservative, but they are forward thinking. They’re old school. They just realize that times change, and they have to be open to that change. I remember at one point my relatives started a club for Dominicans that lived in Las Vegas. What was it called? I don’t remember. I just remember that they all got T-shirts that had the Dominican flag on it and they would host parties, like picnics, barbeques at certain parks. It was literally they were trying 11 to kick this off and just get all of the Dominicans that they could find within Vegas together, and that probably lasted about a year before it kind of fizzled off, but I do have memory of that. It kind of sounded like your mom wanted to preserve that Dominican culture, right? Yes. What kind of traditions or even food did you guys consume or participate in? I grew up on…I love tostones. plátano maduro…we’d eat that a lot. It felt like everything that we would eat was very Dominican. Then once I was in high school—Mom always made an effort to make sure that meal time was a family time, aside from schedules and everything, we always sat down as a family; she was very, very adamant about that. Culturally I feel like I grew up eating a lot of Dominican things. Once I was in high school, I think they started to shift and eat more cleaner, not healthier. If my mom wasn’t cooking, my dad doesn’t cook at all, so fast food was a quick, easy… Were your parents religious? Was there anything like that in the house? Good question. No. My mom, I’m very thankful to her that she gave us at least a foundation by requiring that we go to church, so I did do First Communion, (and) my Confirmation; that was at the Catholic church on Sahara and Maryland… I want to say Saint Anne; Bishop Gorman used to be there. Yes, Saint Anne’s. I have memory of doing my confirmation classes there and that church is where I did confirmation. I remember going to that church for a lot of First Communions. But I did my confirmation when I was in high school at the Catholic church that’s in the Summerlin area, close to Cimarron High School. I did confirmation classes there. When I turned eighteen, not immediately when I turned eighteen, but there was a point when I had hit that mark and I told my 12 mom, “I’m not going to church anymore.” And she respected that. I’m glad that I had that. It gave me a foundation. My mom was—well, she would drag us to church, but I would notice that she would never get up and take communion. I never asked her about that. She finally did once say she didn’t take communion because she didn’t get married in the church, so that’s why she chose not to take communion. But I could kind of tell that she was going through the motions just to make sure that we were there and we were getting that foundation, and then I finally reached that age where I was like, “I don’t want to go anymore,” and she didn’t force me to go anymore. MH: What made you not want to go anymore? I consider myself spiritual. There is a lot about the Catholic Church that I don’t agree with. I remember there was a period where—there’s always been problems with priests; there’s always been those problems. When I was doing confirmation, I remember taking confirmation classes in the Henderson area from a particular priest. I remember that particular priest. Then I finished confirmation class. Again, all this stuff hit the media with priests, priests. And then there was stuff locally about a priest in the Henderson area and it was actually that priest who was doing some really terrible things. At that moment it’s like all of a sudden it hits closer to home because it’s someone that you know that was involved in that. There was a lot that I was questioning about the Catholic Church and at that moment I lost trust in the Catholic Church because for me it hit home. It’s one thing to hear about these priests; these are not people that you actually know. And then someone who you interacted with who seemed so harmless, but then you would come to learn that this was their truth behind closed doors. At that moment I knew I needed to step away from the Catholic Church. From the institution itself? 13 Yes, yes. For me as an adult, there are things I can appreciate about it, but it disagrees with my life choices, with my lifestyle. I believe that I can continue to have a relationship with a higher power and I don’t need… The middleman. Yes. Nor did I ever agree to having to confess my sins to another person in order to be forgiven by a higher power. I never understood that. You mentioned coming out at nineteen. What was that process like? What made you want to come out? I was closeted in high school. I graduated in 2001 and that time you just did not come out in high school; you did not. What school did you go to? I graduated from Palo Verde and I went there all four years. At the time it was a newer high school. I was the second graduating class from that high school. This is up in Summerlin. In high school I noticed that I began to…I never lied about who I was, but I just omitted information. I never