This year is the celebration of Stonewall. 45 years ago, a group of those in the GLBTQ community were tired of the continuous raids conducted by police night after night and fought back. I remember when MILK came out in theaters. I was aware of the history behind this film before it was released. When I spoke with some in the GLBTQ community, I was surprised to find that a lot of people had no idea what I was talking about. I fear that the same applies to this bit of history. For those planning to attend this year’s Pridefest, which is honoring the 45 anniversary of Stonewall, really stop and reflect. This night was just one of many moments in history that made a difference for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders in this country. The people who cried “no more” on the night of June 28, 1969 lead to you being able to express who you really are. So take a moment to say thank you and celebrate their strength and your life. Many have come before you to make a difference. These are the days to show praise, so give that praise this month! Happy Pride!
Teresa Robinson-Ewers, Editor-in-Chief
PRIDE & Equality magazine
COVER STORY: COLTON FORD
We remember when we first heard the name Colton Ford. PRIDE & Equality was just a baby back in 2004 and we were told that we had to have him for our launch party. I didn’t know what to expect. Were we going to get a diva that would make the night unbearable? Far from it. Ford is one of the most kind, well-mannered, down-to-earth men you could ever meet. Oh, and he can sing, too! Colton also appeared in our first issue, so it just seems fitted that he is back in Albuquerque for Pridefest and on the cover of our annual issue. Ford has been keeping busy, showing the world that he has something to offer in the music industry. Currently working on his next video for his single, Look My Way, Ford sits down with us to talk shop, look back and look forward.
I feel like we're coming home with you. You were in our launch issue of this magazine, did the launch party and ten years later you are still going strong. What is your secret for longevity in this business?
Damn time flies! I just continue to do what I love to do and what I’ve done professionally now for over 30 years. If you’re going to pursue a career in entertainment, you have to be down for the long haul. It may morph and change through the years, but the creative juices are always flowing.
You had the opportunity to work with Marco Ovando, an amazing photographer and videographer. What was the experience like?
It was great. Marco and I met and discussed different ideas he had. His inspirations where some of the 80’s videos we all know and love, and the Tom of Finland aesthetic. Everyone brought their talents to the table at the shoot, and we just rocked it out!
The Way That I Am. Once again you are bringing some great music to the industry. Your previous albums have had a strong soul, R&B feel. The Way is more of a strong dance album. Tell us a little about the concept of this album.
Thank you! I worked with several collaborators on The Way I Am, which organically brought a lot of creative variety to the project. We wanted the record to encapsulate all of the musical genres I love: Soul, Funk, R&B, Electronica, Pop and Jazz. It even includes two ballads! I think this record is my most commercial effort, and speaks to a diverse audience with its variety of material.
One song that stands out is Alone. Where did the idea of this track come from?
This is actually the only cover song on the record. It was written by Swedish recording artist Stephen Simmonds, who released it in 1997 on his album of the same name. My manager, Bill Coleman, asked if I would record it as he thought it would be a good addition to the record, and he was right. I loved it when I first heard it, and really love how it turned out!
You have a strong fan base, Colton. What do they mean to you?
The people who have been with me on this journey of mine inspire me and keep me motivated through all of the challenges that artists face pursuing a career in music. Their support is something that I value and appreciate very deeply, and something that I don’t take for granted. It’s pretty amazing!
What upcoming projects do we have to look forward to?
We are getting my next single, Look My Way (off of The Way I Am), ready for release. I wrote it with Chris Willis and Count De Money, and we have some amazing remixers who have worked their magic on it. I am shooting the video for the single at the end of May. I also have a new EP titled Take Me that I did with UK Producer/Songwriter, David Barratt, that will be coming out soon. It’s a more acoustic soul record that reflects my R&B roots. I’ve been writing songs for other artists, and I also have a couple of other projects in the works, including a TV show and a possible film. Keeping my creative juices flowing!
Check out Colton’s Kickstarter campaign to help fund his new video Look My Way. To learn more visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/546628135/colton-ford-look-my-way. You can also keep track of Colton at https://www.facebook.com/ColtonFordMusic.
FEATURED STORIES: ALEX NEWELL
We are excited to have our 2013 Models of Hope honoree, and star of GLEE, Alex Newell visit the Land of Enchantment for this year's Pridefest. We had the opportunity to interview him back in January 2013, during his first few seasons as Unique on GLEE, and was blessed for all of his opportunities and giving GLBTQ youth some great advice, "Be true to who you are, despite the negativity that may be thrown your way. Despite those people who might say or do horrible things to you, there is always going to be someone who loves and accepts you. I love and accept you, too!". Newell, who is currently promoting his new single, a remake of Sigma’s hit Nobody to Love, took a moment to speak with PRIDE & Equality about his latest projects and Pride month.
Big changes on GLEE! How do you feel about the ending of Glee Club?
Everything has it’s place and time. Closing this chapter of Glee is special and sad, but it’s needed for the evolution of the show. Although nothing actually ever ends on Glee...
You had the opportunity to do a film called Geography Club. How was the movie making experience?
It was fun! A lot different than working a 15 hour day on Glee! There was more time to focus on one specific scene and make it the best that we could.
Congratulations on signing with Atlantic! What can we expect with your first album?
Thanks so much! We're creating something new, exciting, fresh, and fun! I'm working with some of the most talented people in that world and having a blast doing it!
This Pride season you're celebrating with us in Albuquerque, reflecting on Stonewall. What are your thoughts and feeling during this Pride season?
Every performance at a Pride Festival is an honor and I'm thankful for those who have paved the way for us. To me, Pride is about being who you are and it's such an incredible experience to celebrate that with so many people!
Follow Alex on Twitter at @ANew92 or on Facebook at http://www.TheAlexNewell.com.
EXTRAS: IS YOUR INNER CHILD KEEPING YOU TRAPPED IN A BAD RELATIONSHIP By Steven Jay Fogel
5 Questions to Ask Yourself: The Answers May Help Set You Free
It happens when we see politicians repeatedly make the same self-destructive mistakes - think former legislator Anthony Weiner’s repeated sexting scandals.
Or we hear friends complain repeatedly about the horrible job they’re “stuck” in.
Or, in a rare glimmer of insight, we wonder why we’re still hanging on to a “romance” that makes us miserable.
“When people seem mentally healthy and it looks like they could easily make a change that would make them happier, we’re absolutely baffled by why they don’t,” says Steven Jay Fogel (www.StevenJayFogel.com), author of the new book Your Mind Is What Your Brain Does for a Living (March 2014).
When you’re the “stuck” person, the why may seem more evident: You’re scared, or you think, “If I just keep doing the right things, it will all work out.”
Either way, it’s likely they—and you—aren’t making a conscious choice at all, Fogel says.
“We think we’re making decisions based on the present, but we’re usually not. We tend to operate on automatic pilot, responding to situations based on the coping strategies and thinking patterns we developed in childhood,” he says.
“When those strategies are dysfunctional, we just keep repeating the same behaviors over and over again.”
The good news is that we can learn to recognize that “default” thinking and rewire the brain to change it, says Fogel.
The cofounder of Westwood Financial Corp., one of the nation’s leading private commercial real estate owners, Fogel draws from decades of neuroscience and mindfulness research to offer solutions.
What can you do to get yourself unstuck? Get started, he suggests, by answering these questions—in writing!
• What is causing your pain? Think about whether you’re in a relationship or job that’s become less and less satisfying and increasingly painful over a long period. Describe in writing the elements of the relationship or situation that are persistently causing you pain and how long you’ve been experiencing these problems. Knowing that there are three ways to end your suffering - accept the situation, change it, or remove yourself from it - write down the reasons you’re staying even though you’re suffering and what is preventing you from choosing Door 1, 2 or 3.
• How are you interpreting your partner’s behavior? If you repeatedly fight about the same issues, describe the issues. Think about whether you’re unconsciously investing the issue with a meaning based on your “autopilot” thinking. For instance, if you’re arguing because your partner’s messy and ignores your requests to be neat, are you interpreting that as disrespect toward you? Do you further interpret that disrespect as a lack of love for you? Is it possible that yourpartner is just not a neat person and that has nothing to do with his feelings for you?
• Do you have impulsive autopilot behaviors that are causing problems? We can often check the impulses that stem from our autopilot brain just by stopping to think before we act. Bursts of anger are one example; suppressed anger that turns into passive-aggressive behavior is another.
• Do you feel shamed or blamed by your partner’s critical comments? Write down the comments accurately—as they were spoken. Then think mindfully about whether your partner was really shaming you or if you interpreted the comments in that way because ofyour own inner critic. If it was the former, have a conversation with the person about how you feel when this happens, and state that you’ll be more open to the feedback if the criticism can be expressed objectively.
• Did you bring a myth with you into the relationship? If so, describe the myth. For example, you might have believed that you will cure everything that’s wrong with the other person. Or that she will fix all of your problems. Describe how you came to believe that myth and what it would take for you to release it.
About Steven Jay Fogel: Steve Fogel is a principal and cofounder of Westwood Financial Corp., one of the largest owner-operators of retail properties in the United States. He is a licensed real estate broker and past chairman of the California Arts Council. Your Mind Is What Your Brain Does for a Living, publishing March 11, 2014, is his third book. He is also the author ofMy Mind Is Not Always My Friend: A Guide for How to Not Get in Your Own Way (Fresh River Press, 2010) and The Yes-I-Can Guide to Mastering Real Estate (Times Books-Random House).
EXTRAS: FALLING HARD By Bob Cooper
Angel Albedrop literally hit bottom the night he leapt from his fifth-floor balcony on the weekend before Thanksgiving 2012—but a miraculous soft landing and a fresh perspective set his life back on course.
Angel decided that night he could no longer stand the pain. “A crushing sadness, ten times worse than any physical pain, overtook me,” he recalls. “I felt so afraid, angry, hopeless and alone that death seemed better. I had my reasons for feeling that way, but I didn’t know it was clinical depression that drove me to that point.”
He aimed for the cement but missed by inches, instead landing on a patch of grass. Still, doctors considered his survival a miracle as he escaped with only injuries to his neck and right wrist. Following neck surgery and a one-week hospitalization he fully recovered, but his recovery from addictive behavior and depression is what changed his life.
Born and raised in Mexicali, Mexico, Angel earned an accounting degree from an elite university (the Monterrey Institute of Technology) and landed a job at a major Wall Street firm in 2008. “I loved my job, my colleagues and the Manhattan lifestyle, but somehow I started feeling stressed and sad,” he says. The stress could be explained by 70-hour work weeks, but not the sadness—a classic sign of depression. He tried to overcome it by working and playing nonstop.
“I did nothing but work, go to the gym and hit the bars,” he says. “Then I met Shawn and he introduced me to the gay party scene, which meant steroids, drinking, cocaine, ecstasy and sex. Nothing helped. I still felt sad and lonely. Shawn was no different and later he committed suicide after several attempts. I believe now that he also suffered from depression.” (One in eight urban gay and bisexual men attempt suicide at some point, a rate three times higher than for U.S. men overall.)
Angel thought that a new job, apartment and boyfriend in San Francisco would turn things around. At first it did, but after a few months, his new boyfriend Jason began cheating on him and demanding that he move out. It was Angel’s 38th birthday, Jason had left town and Angel began drinking. Three bottles of wine later, he swallowed dozens of Vicodins and Ativans, expecting to die. Jason found him unconscious and called an ambulance. Angel was okay, but as soon as he got back home, he stepped over the balcony railing to jump. Jason grabbed his arms, just enough to alter the flight of his body as it plummeted five stories to the life-saving patch of lawn. He remembers realizing that it was a mistake the moment Jason tried to stop him.
“I was sick and I didn’t know it,” Angel says now. “I thought I was worthless and everything was my fault.” Unsure of his next move—but promising himself he would make something of his second chance at life—he returned home to Mexico to visit family. “I cried for many days and nights in my room, but then I started enjoying the little things, like my mother’s voice, the smell of her tortillas, and the sound of my father’s breathing as he fell asleep each night in front of the TV. I reconnected with my sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts, who were all there for me. I met with a spiritual teacher, a meditation expert and a therapist. I read books that gave me a new, positive outlook, which I practice every day.”
Even after that break, the same feelings of hopelessness and sadness Angel felt for three years returned. He saw a San Francisco therapist, who immediately put him on medication for depression. “In combination with therapy sessions, the meditation I learned in Mexico and a new attitude, it worked!” he rejoices. “I started to be motivated again at work, resumed exercising, reconnected with friends and stayed sober. I have new ambitions, not all of them material, and I want to tell other people that you can get past disappointments with love, friendship, therapy and treatment. You don’t have to stay unhappy.”
Angel has since returned to Boston, where he first arrived in America as a Harvard student, to take a job with one of the world’s largest banks. “San Francisco was a dark chapter in my life and everything around me reminded of what went wrong, so I needed a change,” he explains. “I’m feeling stronger and more stable here and I’m planning to start a blog to help people with suicidal thoughts. I’d love to be able to help someone who needs it in the same way that I once did.”