Alexx Mayo is a proud New Mexican. The 37-year-old Los Lunas native dreamed of the day he could take his talent to a higher level. Today, Mayo is a make-up artist to the stars, including Lizzo and Mariah Carey, but, most importantly, he is living life on his terms and being a role model in the LGBTQ community.
Being a part of the LGBTQ community, how does it feel to be a role model?
It feels amazing! As a troubled youth in the early 2000s, I didn't necessarily have a safe space to talk to anybody or have the connections we do nowadays. I think being able to do what I do inspires people. The "It Gets Better" campaign stuck with me. I went through stages and experimentations that many people didn't understand, but it made sense to me, and being true to yourself is the best thing you can do. Whatever your destiny is, as long as you stay true to yourself, you will get there.
In New Mexico, we're working on creating that safe spaces for youth. How did you get from that troubled youth to where you are now? Which mentors helped you rise to get to where you are now?
I struggled growing up in Los Lunas, which was even smaller then! There wasn't anybody that was out and proud. You had to hide who you were. It was about reaching out to find other people like me. There was a youth gay group I could connect with and go to on Friday nights - to have a space to create. We'd created collages and dream boards. It made me feel like I wasn't alone. It made a big difference.
I also attended M'Power. It was a big thing for me when I was 18, meeting other people my age and having fun. I think being able to reach out if you have these feelings of being alone or nobody understands you. I guarantee you there are a lot of other people just like you. So, you have to reach out. It was the most important thing for me in building my self-confidence. That power gave me the ability to say, 'You know what? I am a boy who loves makeup and beauty - and that it's okay.
Also, having that support family - I was very fortunate. I know not everybody's family is as supportive. I was blessed to have it, including a cousin who opened my mind to art and culture and helped me attend my first pride. So, I guess my best advice would be to reach out. It's important to have conversations, especially when you're feeling indifferent.
Do you still keep in touch with the folks you grew up with?
I still share friendships I've had for 10-20 years, and, incredibly, we shared these experiences from our teenage years, in our 20s, and now in our 30s. It's one of those things that I feel like there's nothing quite like those deep connections and neat friendships that you had especially been able to grow up together. I feel like family to me. When I see them or go back home, it feels like a second family. Seeing their support and them rooting for me, I feel like that gives me more motivation. It makes things very rewarding to see them being proud of me. I cherish those relationships. Bunnie (Cruse) has known me since I was maybe 15 years old. She knows the journey, so I love what she does for the community. I think it's incredible, and seeing her growth journey, having people like Bunnie in your life is necessary!
What words do you want to leave for our youth in the community?
We go through times just understanding our differences but know you are unique. If you think differently, dress differently, or whatever the case may be, it makes you unique. My last words are to dream as big as you can dream. The sky is the limit! Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something. If you want something, you can have it. I'm living proof that dreams do come true.
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