This decade was first decade where I vividly remember from the beginning to the end. So much happened within the span of ten years. So many lessons, opportunities, and milestones.
It’s hard to believe ten years ago I auditioned and was accepted into Howard W. Blake School of the Arts in both their Musical Theatre and Acting.
I began my career at Blake, where I met Cheyenne! 2020 will mark ten years of our friendship, that’s so crazy!
This was the year where I truly went deep into my depression. I was so angry with how I thought the world was treating me, I reflected that to how I treated people.
I became anorexic because I thought it would help me gain more roles in theatre. I ended up gaining more weight and did not get the roles or shows I wanted.
My sophomore year, I was asked to leave the musical theatre department. I still never understood why that happened. There was never a full conversation with me and the teacher. I was not at point where I could stand up for myself. However, I knew it would be a rough year.
Since I felt passion taken away from me, I felt my life was over.
Over that summer, I was at a conference and I let out my anger and frustration by hitting my foot against a wall to release that feeling. Did it change anything, no.
I later decided to join the Acting department.
This was a monumental year. I uttered the words “I am gay!” While it was was a relief, I still did not feel I was loved. I felt I was still living in sin because of what my religion taught me. I felt that my family, primarily my dad, stopped loving me because I opened up about who I was. I was very close to taking my own life because I truly felt that my life did not matter.
On top of my mental health not in a good place, I was Senior Class President. Looking back, I was not prepared to be Class President, nor did I put the work into.
On May 31st, my abuelo passed away. On June 3rd my grandpa passed away. On June 6th, I graduated high school. This was the hardest week of my life. I lost both of my grandfathers three days apart and graduated high school in the same week. I emotionally was not ready to go away to college.
I attended St. Leo University for my first year of college. I thought since it was close enough to home and it was a catholic school it was the best for me. I became very socially anxious. I did not fit into really any group. Within my time at St. Leo, I gained over 50 pounds because I used food as a source for my depression. However, I went into it with a very closed minded attitude as well. I felt I had to go away to school because everyone else was.
I knew after my first year at St. Leo I did not want to return. However, I was still in the mindset I wanted to go to a catholic school.
Thus, I chose Holy Cross College in Indiana. Since it was the sister school to Notre Dame, and I knew I could not get into ND, I thought it was the next best option. I still did not feel that I truly belonged there. I was the only out gay student, and that is hard to live through at a conservative catholic college. There were students who wrote on my dorm door “Zach likes dick”. I instantly did not feel safe or comfortable. Since I felt so lonely and anxious, I chose to work on weekends, so I would not have to think about being alone.
For my 20th Birthday I wanted to take a trip Disney since I had not been in years. Since Cheyenne had her pass, we went together. The moment I walked onto main street, my life changed. I knew instantly I would love this place.
This was the year I was in full drag for the first time. I was very honored when they asked me to play a drag character in a play at Holy Cross. It was life changing and I knew I wanted to do it again. However, the student body was very uncomfortable that I was allowed to be in drag on campus.
One of my favorite opportunities I received at Holy Cross was to study abroad in Peru. I loved every moment I was there. It was very eye opening to see life in a different perspective. We lived with the poorest of the poor. While I did not make it to the top of Machu Picchu, I can say I have been to one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
After the election, the vibe at Holy Cross definitely changed. I definitely more isolated, especially since I was getting more into drag and makeup. I performed at my first club in South Bend and no one came to support me. I had many friends say they’d come, but did not. My friends who would have actually come were not 21, so that was tough.
After losing my summer job, I had reached my breaking point. I was unhappy and I knew it was time to go home. When my mom visited me in the fall, she knew something was bothering, but I did not know how to tell her.
Three days after I moved back home, I got into a major car accident. I was in the passenger seat, and my mom was picking me up from work at midnight. Since then, I still have major anxiety driving and honestly am still anxious too. For long time, I took felt it was my fault because I felt god was punishing me for losing my virginity. I had to learn that it was not my fault.
That fall I stared my career at University of Tampa. My third college. I was so anxious but I truly felt accepted and that I found my place.
I started my journey with Marriott in August. It became my longest lasting job and slowly realized I wanted to grow in the company.
I was very excited when I found out that UT has a drag show each year! I was so happy to be able to perform in drag again. I felt it was an okay performance, so I felt down on myself, so I gave up drag for a bit.
Seeing Hello, Dolly! on Broadway was what sparked my passion again for theatre, and gave me the confidence to audition for the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, and was accepted. I wanted to move to NYC so bad, but after visiting in the fall, I knew it was not time.
In December, I graduated from UT! I could not believe the day finally came. I was not sure it would after three schools. I knew this was the proudest moment in my parents life. I was so grateful to have walked across that stage with Cheyenne.
2018 was also the year I came out as non-binary and exploring what that means to me. I learned who the most important people in my life. I learned I may love some people, but I do not want them in my life. And that’s okay.
This year, I returned to the theatre in two fabulous musicals.
This year, I went after a dream and joined the Walt Disney Company. While I am no longer a cast member, I am thankful for the opportunity and relationships I made during my CP.
I fell in love with drag again. I am becoming a better makeup artist everyday and slowly making it to my goal as America’s Next Drag Superstar.
This year, I have worked on self love. While we are still not there yet, we are getting closer every day.
The word I would say to describe this decade is acceptance. Acceptance of who am, acceptance of how life happens, acceptance how people may or may not fit into your life.
So much happened these past 10 years, but it made me a stronger person.
Happy New Year/Decade everyone. Let’s slay the ’20s!