Being a gay man in Orange County has presented me with a number of challenges in my life. Elementary and middle school were some of my hardest times. I was bullied so badly that I had to change schools because the administration refused to do anything. I was kicked, spat on, shoved, and emotionally abused simply because I was different. Throughout my life I have learned how to become resilient and ambitious, but best of all I learned how to be compassionate. I have compassion for the boys who made me scared to go to school, I have compassion for the man that sexually assaulted me, and I have compassion for the people that told me I was going to hell because I love another man. However, I do have to acknowledge that the privilege that I was born with has made my life easier than for most of our community. And I am extremely fortunate and grateful to have a supportive and loving family that has seen me through so many battles. Thankfully, now I have found a community that I fit into and that supports me.

Theater has been my life and escape for 15 years now. In theater I no longer have to worry about hiding who I am. In fact, it is necessary to be myself because one has to bring a little bit of oneself to a character. My entire life is based upon being authentic, and I am a much better person because of it. I learned early on in life that people can be scared of your authenticity, and if they can’t or won’t handle it, they aren’t worth your time. The people who love your authenticity will always be there for you, no matter what. When you are truly authentic, you are visible, and when you are visible, you are free.

Steven Duncan Sass
Huntington Beach, California