Jack Canfield Jack Canfield author. speaker. motivator.

Affectionately known as "America's #1 Success Coach," Jack Canfield is the originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a leading authority in the areas of self-esteem, achievement motivation, and peak performance. [www.jackcanfield.com]

 
Arianna Huffington Arianna Huffington political powerhouse. media mogul. author.

Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post and the author of twelve books. [www.huffingtonpost.com]

 
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Sean Stephenson Sean Stephenson speaker. psychotherapist. life embracer.

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Jorge Perez Jorge Perez Agent. Producer. Photography Enthusiast.

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pride

Cory Schneider Cory Schneider

Cory Schneider M.A., MFT Intern, is a gay-affirmative psychotherapist in West Hollywood, CA.  Cory is an associate at Gay Therapy LA and under the supervision of Ken Howard, LCSW. [www.affirmativefoundations.com]

At 23, I followed my dream to Hollywood. Upon arrival a casting director told me that I “read gay.” She said she could “de-gay me,” starting with my voice. It was then I decided that I had had enough of trying to be what everyone else thought I should be.

My effeminate expression had surfaced by the age of eight. I was more apt at playing house and Barbies with my sisters than playing trucks or sports with my brother or other boys. It seemed that all males had been indoctrinated into a sort of hegemonic masculinity that I was left out of. My sense of maleness was further eroded when I realized my sexual interest was in men, as this was considered a sin and a disease in the Texas town where I lived.

Between fourth grade and graduating high school, no matter how hard I tried to present myself masuclinely, it never worked. The bullying I endured because of my expressive differences all but destroyed any positive sense of self. My story never made it to the headlines since I survived the bullying, but it wasn’t without a cost. The shame and guilt attached to my feminine expression and homosexual orientation overshadowed any spark of pride I might have felt.

If gays have fairy godmothers, mine was Arthur. He was my acting teacher who cast me as a drag queen in a Tennessee Williams piece for the summer repertoire. I thought I had this character nailed, but Arthur challenged me insisting that I was playing a caricature rather than a person. He said my portrayal of this character was just a presentation of what I believed about myself. He explained that I had internalized all the negative things people had said about me. It was his belief that the only way I could release the negativities I had collected was to exploit them and play them out. He said this would illuminate the difference between what others thought about me and my essential self.

Playing “Candee” slowly chipped away at my own shame and guilt, and helped neutralize the homophobia that I had internalized. By exploring and exploiting who I was led to believe I was, I uncovered who I am, and I like him!  Not only did I play a hell of a drag queen, I played her with pride and discovered my own.

– Cory Schneider

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