While I was in D.C. I put Love Les on Tinder, that’s how I met Stephanie. Most of the time, I’ll have a mutual friend with the person I’m interviewing, Stephanie was a wild card. And now, her interview is one of my favorites. She turned out to be this bomb, badass, dreamboat and a creative! Here's some of her stellar work https://stephnschweitzer.myportfolio.com/projects
How do you identify?
Female, (she/her/hers), and gay. Basically, I’m a big old shesbian.
When did you start to realize?
As long as I can remember. Like when I was younger, I was always trying to creep on and watch Mary Kate and Ashely movies. Or watch Showtime or HBO videos to try to understand what was wrong with me. My family is super Catholic and I didn’t really fit into that. Me liking girls wasn't something that was talked about until my early college years. My family finally had to face the denial they had been building up. So yeah, I’ve always been gay, gay, gay.
What was that like?
Well, my dad is still super Catholic. I don't know what changed, but something clicked for him and now he's probably the most supportive person in my life. My mom has been supportive as well, once she realized that this wasn’t a temporary thing. But my dad is always asking me who I'm dating or cautioning me when I'm traveling. He's always been super involved in my life in positive way. I'm really lucky. I honestly thought I was going to get kicked out of the house when I came out, because of his religious upbringing. Thankfully, I was wrong. Them accepting me was a sigh of relief, to say the least.
Do you still find yourself in religious spaces?
For me, if I'm forced to do something for years and years, I have no interest in doing it when I don't have to. I appreciate my dad instilling his values in us. I think that’s what any parent should do if they have something they believe in. At the end of the day, it’s just about being a decent person. All of us know what’s right from wrong.
Tell me more about your coming out experience.
People always knew. When I came out it was like “DUH.” And the guys were like “Oh, yeah. It would never work!” In truth, I’m kind of like a guy.
You seem really confident in yourself. Has it always been that way for you?
Oh God no! I used to be seriously shy and I'm still pretty shy now. I think it's because I didn't fully know who I was. I’ve found myself in my career, my interests, and my hobbies. I’ve found some consistency and that built confidence. Becoming super good at something is a great feeling. You just have to start somewhere and stick it out for a bit.
What is your career?
I actually work for Audi. I really like cars and art. I’m a graphic designer for them. I’ve been with Audi for 6 years. It's the perfect hybrid of a career for me.
Tell me a little more about art?
As long as I've known I was gay, I've known that I was interested in the arts. I’ve always done artsy stuff. In high school, I focused in on drumline. When I went to college I put music aside, shifted gears, and focused on art. I fell in love with sculpture and photography.
How do you find inspiration?
Art just kind of comes. Some days, I'm super creative. Some days, it doesn't come. For me, it’s about having a clear head space, working out, and looking out into the world. I also really advocate for filling your weekends with stuff that stimulates you. You can store up inspiration and build memories to fill you with constant inspiration.
What are some of your hobbies?
I recently gotten into indoor skydiving. It’s something I dabbled in 8 years ago. My Oma lived in Orlando and there was a wind tunnel, so my mom took me to try it out. I loved it instantly. 8 years ago it was very new. Now it has kind of blown up. They put up a tunnel 30 minutes away from me recently. So I've been going and going and going and building up different skills. So when I get my skydiving license, I know everything from trying it out in the tunnel and the learning curve is split into half and half again. I know pretty much everything except for parachuting right now. When I get my license, I can jump anywhere! I just want to jump on my own. Eventually, I want to do a base jump at least once. It’s like the creme de la creme. You need to do 100 solo jumps to even qualify.
Do you have any down time?
Yes! I like chilling the hell out. I love being social, although I sometimes I have a lot of social anxiety. Sometimes though, I really need me time. I nestle in my apartment and Netflix the day away or spend the day cooking. For me, it’s about taking a break from the consuming craziness of the day to day.
What do you hope for the future?
I definitely, definitely, have cheesy things that I want to happen. Like I want to get married, I want to have a family. And I want to have 2-3 kids. I want to stop renting. I want to buy my own space semi-soon. I don't know, just simple stuff like that. The bread and butter basics. A family, kids, a dog, and a house.
What made you agree to meet up and do this interview?
I’ve never done something like this. So I thought, “Why the hell not?” I’m always trying to push myself and do things that I've never done before. So here we are. In a garden. Talking about life.
Do you have any coming out advice?
So, I don't think there’s a certain way to come out. I think you should build that trust with closer friends, then navigate the waters with them. Then, once you have a supportive group and some practice, try someone else out. Family is a little trickier. In the end, each of us is going to have to work it out in the end. So my advice there is: get it over with. Your sexuality is just one part of your person. So let your family get all the hate or confusion out and then move on. It’s kind of like, “Well, we don't talk about how straight you are.” So why would we talk about how gay I am?
For this interview Stephanie and I headed on over to the Wish Tree in. The Wish Tree is a D.C. public art piece installed by Yoko Ono to inspire collective hope for the future. Year round visitors are encouraged to whisper their wishes into the tree, during the Summer, visitors leave their wishes on tags.