Portrait by Spencer Ruiz

Portrait by Spencer Ruiz

My advice...is to find a supportive community wherever [you] can, because that’s what made all the difference for me.

Daniel E

BFA, Studio Art '09

In 2004 when I was choosing a college, I set my heart on an art school in Boston. Then, just as I was ready to announce my decision, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage. As a 17 year-old Mormon still in the closet, I was terrified that moving to a liberal state would weaken my resolve to fight my then-unwanted homosexual feelings. Instead I decided to go to BYU where I could participate in free and confidential conversion therapy to become straight.

Much to my surprise (and despite the best efforts of some very persistent people), BYU didn’t make me straight. Instead I found a community of happy, supportive gay students and allies who helped me come to terms with who I am. When I graduated at the end of 2009, I moved to Massachusetts to live openly and to attend graduate school at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University.

Now I live in New York City where I manage national programs at a non-profit organization that supports teen artists and writers. Through my work, I have the privilege of meeting young people who, like me, are setting their hearts on creative paths. As I support them on that journey, my advice to them is to find a supportive community wherever they can, because that's what made all the difference for me.

Posted April 2018