HAVING A CHAT: w/ STEFANO ESPOSITO
C: Hi Stef! I'm so excited to catch up and chat about you and your activism. :) Can you first explain the autism spectrum for those who may not know?
S: "In the way I can explain, the autism spectrum is about the way our brains are developed, it's different to other humans and affects different parts of our daily life, mostly affecting our social and emotional development. For example, our senses are heightened and sometimes people on the spectrum don't get sarcasm. I'm verbal and I do understand a lot of social situations but still face heightened senses, needing time to process different situations and having many specialized interests."
C: Got it, and thank you for breaking it down for us! What's your earliest memory in regards to being diagnosed?
S: "I was 2 when I got diagnosed and I don't remember being diagnosed. However, I got told when I was 11 I think after school and I just remember crying heavily when I found out and being so confused on what this means. But once everything was explained, I then straight away wanted to tell everyone I'm autistic. An emotional jump, I know. I remember going to sessions after to learn about and again, I cried in all of them. I'm a very emotional person. But I think they helped understand how autism affects me and why I do certain things."
C: That's awesome that you attended those sessions, it sounds like they really helped you come to terms with your body and mind. Now I know this is a pretty broad question since you were diagnosed at such a young age, but how do you feel being autistic affected you and the way you go about life?
S: "Autism has affected me in so many ways, good and bad. One way is getting overwhelmed and this happens quite a bit. Especially when it comes to busy environments where my senses are pushed to the limit, which leads me to face sensory overload. And when I was younger, loud noises affected me the most, to the point where I'd cry and have to leave things. But now, I love concerts and music and they make me feel so good. I feel like because my senses are heightened, I appreciate things like sounds more and that's why music excites me. Another way is that when something happens, I sometimes have to process it and that can take a while for me to understand it and move on. That is due to me feeling stuff very deeply, which also means I can empathise with a lot of people and often will listen to people when they need help."
C: Haha, as a huge concert-goer myself I'm so glad that you're able to go experience and enjoy live music. I love watching your YouTube videos about new music and albums because you can tell you're so passionate about what you're talking about! Speaking of YouTube, I know a reoccurring topic that you cover is growing up autistic. Are there any stigmas surrounding the autistic community that you’d like to clear up?
S: "OOOOH THERE'S SO MANY!! The one that I feel needs to be addressed is the stigma of we're child-like. OOOH THIS ANNOYS ME SO MUCH. Sometimes when I tell people I'm autistic, there's this patronising tone with it and I get treated like a baby. Autistic people are not forever child-like. Just because we have autism, doesn't mean we don't enjoy stuff like drinking, dating, having sex and other things adults enjoy. Autistic adults are adults and should be treated with respect instead of treated like a baby."
C: Yeah, that's very understandable. Everybody deserves that respect as an adult. I am curious though, what made you want to step into the spotlight and start your YouTube?
S: "I wanted to see me in the media. An autistic gay man who was like me, not a stereotype. I never did see [it] at all and I felt lonely a lot of times and felt like no one could relate, so I think I've become an advocate because I want to be there for other autistics and show they're not alone. But also I want to show that autistic people are just like everyone else, so that's why I post other content as well to show that we are multifaceted and not just autistic."
C: Wow, that was such a beautiful answer. I'm so glad that you decided to start it up and I know your videos have helped others out there. Do you have any creators that you look up to in the autistic community? I’d love to highlight some others that you feel deserve it!
S: "Honestly for this question, there's 2 main creators I can think about. One of them is Chloé Hayden aka Princess Aspien, she was actually the first autistic Youtuber I saw and not only did I really enjoy her content, but the stuff she was talking about, I really related to and I felt seen for the first time. And the other creator I'd say is Tim Boykin aka blackautisticking on Tik Tok, I find this content really fun because he has a certain warmth and kindness to his content and is also really relatable again. So I'd say those 2 at the moment but there's so many creators that I could talk about."
C: Nice! :) Before we wrap everything up, I just wanted to say thank you once again! You have helped me understand so much. Is there any advice you’d give to parents or families that have children diagnosed with autism?
S: "I'd say the best thing is to be there for your child and fight to get support for your child in school especially. Now, while support is there, like a one on one teacher next to them in class and speech therapy (which I did when I was round 3-4), it is hard and you have to do so much to get that support so be prepared and get everything ready in order to gain that support. It will benefit them, make them understand life more and allow them to develop. And being there for your child is literally listening to them when they are struggling and doing things to help them vs. making them feel worse by forcing them to do things and trying to cure them. That's not how it works. Please be there for your kids."
GUEST BLOG POST WRITTEN BY: CAMERON HADLEY
Celebrating Pride this year is going to be different, and that’s O.K.!
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic people are taking their rainbow flags from their favorite city streets to the comfort of their own webcam. While navigating your online celebrations and advocacy it’s important to recognize without Black Trans Womxn advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community, we wouldn’t be able to openly celebrate our Queerness. In our current world, it’s important to recognize how each and every single one of us has the power to make a difference.
PRIDE 2020: NOW STREAMING!
A nationwide pride celebration will still go on, virtually.
Global Pride 2020 is going to be a 24-hour Livestream broadcasted on YouTube.
According to the Global Pride Facebook page, featured performances include Pabllo Vittar, Kesha, Adam Lambert, Pussy Riot, Big Freedia, Village People, Courtney Act, Natasha Bedingfield, Betty Who, Melanie C, Max, and Calum Scott.
These performers will also be joined by activists, community leaders, and public figures by sharing their stories
and raising money for Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 relief.
HBO will also be launching their first-ever digital pride on the Human By Orientation website.
Providing a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community and allies to be together while being our most authentic selves. Daily virtual events will begin Thursday, June 18, 2020, through Sunday, June 28, 2020. Programming includes musical headliners, drag brunch, underground DJ sets, queer comedy and more. Launching the final weekend is a Friday evening celebrating Queer and Trans People of Color with art and music by Papi Juice. Then on Saturday, June 27th get into Kim Petras’ hour-long performance where she will be performing her summer smash “Malibu”. Lastly, on Sunday, June 28th HBO’s virtual pride will conclude with an intimate performance by the headliner, Ms. Janelle Monae.
Let us celebrate Pride this month and every month by furthering our knowledge and supporting Black Trans Womxn.
Our words are not enough as we must follow up with direct action.
Even though we are unable to gather physically, we are still able to be together virtually.
May you celebrate Pride safe, educated, loud, and proud.
Supporting Black Lives in the LGBTQIA+ Community
In order to show our pride, we must show our gratitude. Educating yourself on Black history provides white/non-black people an understanding of how to further respect Black people and culture. Signing petitions, donating to GoFundMe pages, supporting Black owned businesses, and individually funding Black Queer people are all ways you can get involved right now. Pride wouldn’t exist without Black Queer leadership.
GoFundMe Pages: https://twitter.com/nostalgicuItra/status/1276261157918199809
Black Owned Businesses: https://officialblackwallstreet.com/directory/
Individual Black Trans/NB/GNC Fund List:
Queer Representation in Media
When consuming any type of content it’s important to be cognizant of what’re you’re watching. When we stream music, movies, t.v. shows, YouTube videos, and other online content we are not only possibly funding dangerous people, but we are setting a standard in society in which we allow acceptable. The portrayal of LGBTQIA+ people in our media has always been selective. More often than not, white gay men are more likely to get more mainstream opportunities compared to anyone else in the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s important to recognize the range of Queer identities and to advocate for equal opportunities for everyone.
Try celebrating Pride at home digitally by consuming and boosting the content of
Black Queer people across all mediums and platforms.
Crisis Intervention/Suicide Prevention:
The Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255 (online chat available)
Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: (888) 843-4564
The GLBT National Youth Talkline (youth serving youth through age 25): (800) 246-7743
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)
The True Colors United: (212) 461-4401
Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)
AIDS in Prison Project Hotline: (718) 378-7022 (English and Spanish)
National AIDS Hotline: (800) 342-AIDS / (800) 344-7432 (Spanish) / (800) 243-7889 (TDD)
U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233 (English and Spanish) (800)
Pride Institute: (800) 547-7433 24/7
Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN): (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)
*Support Hotlines List provided by, https://pflag.org/hotlines
Head to the links above to educate yourself, sign petitions, & donate to the victims and protestors — with funds going towards legal support, bail, fines, and court fees for those protesting.
Together we can make a difference.
Keep going. Keep fighting.
— C 💫
We're introducing 5 photographers to the CTXYZ COMMUNITY that create breathtaking images & videos that captivate their audiences all over social media! More and more people are using these platforms as a way to express themselves and showcase their art. I talked with 5 photographers who are doing just that and have created their own image online.
READ THE INTERVIEWS BELOW! (PLUS - IMAGES FROM EACH CREATIVE!)
SERRANDON - @serrandon // @shotbyserrandon
What inspired you to start creating?
As long as I can remember, I've had a very vivid imagination and the idea of seeing it come to life would really excite me when I was a kid. I used to wake up at like 5 in the morning to watch Saturday morning cartoons and I remember being so hyped and excited to see new episodes of my favorite shows. I knew I wanted to tell stories and create images like those, and I wanted people to feel the same excitement I would (and high-key still do) feel when I watch my favorite cartoons and sci-fi shows.
What kind of gear do you use?
I have three children. For photography, I use a Canon 80D. I have two lenses that I typically use which is a basic 50mm lens and 24 mm lens. I'm making it a goal to get a couple of more this year that I've been wanting to try out. For videography, I shoot with a Sony a6500 that I just recently paid off finally (yay!). I have a 50 mm lens that I honestly rarely use. I primarily use an 18-105 mm lens because of its range of options. I also have DJI Mavic Pro (my third child) which is a drone. I use it to capture aerial shots like landscapes. Other than that, I have a MacBook Pro that I work off of and I'm pretty dedicated to the Adobe Creative Suites programs.
How do you process your images after a shoot?
I pretty much stick with Adobe. For photos, I edit on Photoshop and for video, I work between Premiere Pro and After Effects for when my video requires special effects. Adobe really makes it easy to take care of everything I need without needing to download a ton of programs.
BEA - @beacasso
What message are you trying to convey with your photography?
I want to make every women I photograph feel beautiful and confident in their own skin. Women empowerment is the message behind my photographs.
Do you always shoot digitally?
All my photographs are taken digitally and prefer shooting digitally because I like having control. I'm super nit-picky when getting the shot I need, so I will have to pass on film photography. Although I have experimented film photography and appreciate the art (so much) I enjoy taking digital images and post processing so much more.
What motivates you to keep creating?
If I’m not photographing/editing my images, I spend most of my time on social media looking at other creative’s work. Seeing my online creative friends share their work, keeps me motivated.
IG, Twitter, Youtube: @BEACASSO
Model in photo 1: @thrillamickilla Model in photo 2: @arxas_ MUA in photo 2: @gigilumakeup Model in photo 3: @jaimodelz
DARIO - @d.vision_
What/who inspired you to start creating?
I've been inspired to create for as long as I can remember. My earliest memory was making a play-doh canvas in preschool. for the most inspiration it would be music. Whenever I listen to a special track that really sticks to my head I can visualize a movie in my head and then I bring it to life. There are many people that I can name that have all inspired me but the person that sticks out is my boyfriend (partner) Christian. He's really pushed me to go to film school and helped me achieved my passion in film-making. I wouldn't be as creative as I am now without his help. I owe everything to him.
What camera and lens do you shoot with?
For the past 2 years I was shooting on the Sony a6300 paired with the Sony 35 mm f1.8 lens. That combo seriously has given me so many opportunities and literally shaped my artistic style. I have just recently upgraded to the Sony a7iii with the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens and its seriously the perfect combo for both video and photo.
What do you use to edit your photos end videos?
For photos I use Enlight app. I'm always on my phone and to have an app on the go is super helpful and the creations are limitless. For Video I use Adobe Premiere Pro.
FOLLOW DARIO ON INSTAGRAM: @d.vision_
JORDAN - @jayphoria
What motivates you to keep creating?
Despite how stressful the business aspect of photography can be, I keep shooting because I genuinely love the process. Having no inspiration to shoot some days, having models flaking on you, or even having rain ruin your perfect concept, are situations that every photographer eventually has to deal with. This is all a part of the process. I can't speak for everyone when I say this, but for me, there's nothing more satisfying than the anticipation of taking a perfect photo. That single feeling is what allows me to continue picking up the camera. I've also lived in the same city my entire life so knowing I haven't seen even one whole percent of what the world has to offer only further motivates me to keep shooting.
Do you prefer film or digital? Why? Have you experimented with both?
I started out with photography by shooting and developing my own film then slowly transitioned into shooting digital. I don't necessarily have a preference for either, but I can definitely say that digital is far more convenient and inexpensive than film so that's what I majorly shoot on.
What message are you trying to convey with your photography?
If anything, I want my photos to tell my story and the stories of those around me. If by doing so, I happen to evoke a series of emotions in the people I choose to share it with then so be it, but my goal since I've started photography, was simply to express who I am as a person and to have fun doing it. Maybe at some point down the line, that will change and i'll have a greater motive in creating my art, but for now, my message is to do whatever makes you happy in life and to ignore anything else that doesn't.
FOLLOW JORDAN ON INSTAGRAM: @AYPHORIA
EZE - @ezephotography
What (or who) inspired you to start creating?
My love for photography began at a very young age through watching my father’s journey as a photographer. My house was filled with photo albums from the countless pictures of family and different events that he would attend. As a young child, I was inspired by these photos and wanted to one day do photography as well. I started photography during my first year of high school when I acquired my first point and shoot Canon Camera. I would take pictures and videos of my friends throughout our days in high school and would also film music videos for myself and my close friend Trevion Richardson. During my last year of high school, I had my first hands-on experience working with a Canon DSLR (Canon T3), which my friend Jordan Hays let me borrow at the time. I immediately fell in love with the quality of the camera that would come from the photos that I would take. Once I graduated and went on to college at CSUF, I no longer had access to Jordan's camera so I asked my oldest sister if she could get me a camera body. Luckily, it was my birthday during that month and I was able to receive my first Canon Camera body. My mom then gave me enough money to purchase an 18-50mm lens, which led me to began capturing every moment of my college experience. At the time, I didn't consider myself a professional photographer and spent a majority of my time learning Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, and Lightroom. I would take pictures and videos of my college friends and edit every single day. As I transitioned into the spring semester of my freshman year, I was able to to have my first paid photoshoot with a former student from my high school, Karay Franklin. Although it was my first real shoot, I felt very comfortable, and we were able to create some magic. Fast forward into the summer after my freshman year, I began to take photography more seriously. I worked at a local pizza shop for three months and was able to save up enough to get an improved camera body & lens, a Canon 60d and a Tokina 11-16mm lens. Once those two items were acquired, I started doing a lot more photoshoots with different models. People would reach out to me, connections were made, and through that, I was able to build a large enough portfolio to create my website, www.visualsbyeze.com. During my Sophomore year, I noticed that there was a lack of online representation of African American students at the CSUF campus and I wanted to make it my duty to change that. I was able to start working directly with the Black Student Union (BSU) and African American Resource Center to showcase all of the events and the people that were within their organizations. Through my efforts, the first BSU website (csufbsu.weebly.com) was created, that displayed the phenomenal diaspora of black students on our campus. From then on, my strong work ethic and faith in God propelled me into this journey as a full-time professional photographer/videographer.
What kind of gear do you use?
Cameras; Canon 5d Mark iii, Panasonic GH4, Sony a6300.
Lenses: 11-16mm,16mm, 27mm, 35mm, and 85mm.
How do you process your images after a shoot?
I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to process my images.
FOLLOW EZE ON INSTAGRAM: @EZEPHOTOGRAPHY
The LGBTQ+ community is home to some of the most creative artists that are constantly revolutionizing their space. Music has always been a way for people to connect with each other, which is why this article is a perfect fit for the CTXYZ Community page.
I interviewed 5 artists from across the U.S. that are creating some amazing and unique music!
READ MORE TO CHECK OUT THE FULL ARTICLE FT. KNOX, ZAUL, MIKEY COOK, + MORE!
The beauty industry is booming and has been, especially in recent years! Reports show that the global cosmetic products market was valued at around 532 billion dollars in 2017 and is expected to reach approximately 863 billion by 2024! Insane right?! Makeup has always been viewed as an art form, but creativity within the beauty community has also spiked in recent years! Social media has given people the opportunity to share their art with the world and catapulted them to success. I've always been intrigued with makeup and the work that goes into it!
I follow a TON of awesome makeup artists/enthusiast but these kings are killing it! Read below as I interviewed some of my favorites and got some insight on what their experience has been like and their favorite products!
Daniel Hermosillo and Samüel Cortez are two artists based in California that create some of the most amazing and thought-provoking artwork I've ever seen. Whenever I come across an illustration I'm blown away by the overall personal aesthetic they each have.
Both artists are uniquely talented and I've been obsessed with their art for a while.
Read below as they each share their stories, including sources of inspiration and what's planned for the future!
PLUS - See photos of their artwork & check them out on social media!
Daniel Hermosillo — Long Beach, CA — 24
What inspired you to start creating?
"When I was in preschool, my teacher was huge on arts and crafts. It really awakened my creativity and as time went by, I would spend hours drawing in notebooks and hang my best drawings on my fridge. A few years later, my family went through a rough patch and the only way I could express myself and my emotions was through art. When I was in transitioning into high school, I was able to get accepted into a great art program that helped me develop this passion. I was able to focus on bettering my skill while telling stories and expressing ongoing emotions through art."
Is there a piece of artwork you’re most proud of?
"My senior year of Art School, I created and illustrated a gender fluid + body positive Fall lookbook/survival guide. I spent an entire semester working on that, creating characters, and fun outfits to show how fun it is to express ourselves through fashion, even if it means wearing sweats and a tee. I received great feedback from classmates and professors I respected. I learned so much about myself, others, and gender identity in the process (as well as trends and fashion of course.)" [PHOTOS ABOVE]
What do you have planned for the future?
"I really want to get back into character design or fashion illustration. I’m still trying to figure things out, but I’m freelancing and doing commissions on my free time to stay busy. I also want to post work that I never posted, for whatever reason, and share some cool illustrations I cherish with others and hopefully inspire at least one person."
Daniel is an ongoing inspiration in my life, both with their creativity and personal integrity. With the use of beautiful color palletes, they have a way of telling stories and bringing them to life through their artwork. My favorites are the self-portraits & fashion illustrations! Not only an amazing artist, but an amazing friend as well.
Follow Daniel's artistic journey on Instagram: @dvnnyarts // @dvnielhermosillo
Samüel Cortez — San Jose, CA — 23
What is your go-to medium to express your creativity?
"Originally it was always a classic paper and pencil. Never really went too far from it. Although at the moment its been a while since I’ve touched either of those. Now you’ll always find me with my iPad. I use the program Procreate and I can safely say it changed my whole world."
Who is a creative that you admire?
"This is such hard question. I admire so many people! I will say that two major influences in my work at the moment are Francisco Goya and Norman Rockwell. I’ve been working on some stuff that is heavily influenced by them both. I love the style of Rockwell and the profound depth of Goya’s work. If I were to describe my current self right now in my work I would have to say that I am located in a purgatory between these two."
Is there a piece of artwork you’re most proud of?
"I would definitely say there’s a specific group of illustrations that have a lot of meaning to me. Back in August I drew a set of 3 illustrations. To me these were made in a very dark time. Although to me they are the 3 that stick out from what I have done before. They all have this energy to them. Most of that energy is anguish, yet to me it’s a symbol of progress. Palm trees are my favorites, I have them tattooed on me. I absolutely have this attachment to them, I don’t know why or how but it’s been like that since I was a child. 2 of these 3 works show palm trees up flames. I poured a lot out of myself on to these and I feel that to me they’re some of my best work. It’s my grief but I’ll hold it up proud knowing that I’ve survived that time." [PHOTOS ABOVE]
I came across Samüel's page about 11 months ago and instantly fell in love with his artistry. Definitely one of my favorite portrait artists, with an IG feed FULL of them! (I LIVE for his Gaga drawings.) Each illustration conveys it's own message, all while sticking to Samüel's brand. He constantly amazes me with his work and I'm so glad I'm able to witness it.
Follow Samüel's creative journey on Instagram: @samuhwell
CTXYZ COMMUNITY was created to highlight self expression in all forms by giving creatives a platform to speak & be heard.