An exclusive interview with Matthew Simmons, who was crowned as title holder of the Mr Gay World USA competition on Saturday, June 22, 2013.
CM: Why do you think you deserve the title as gay ambassador for the
Matt: I believe I am someone who others can look up to and I represent a good
cause. I am able to relate and connect with others on a personal level. I am a strong willed individual with an interesting and diverse background. Namely, my past employment, both as a Marine Corp soldier and as an adult entertainer. Though gravely different choices, I am not ashamed of either. Both have made me the individual that I am today. I hope to share my experiences with others and shed positivity.
CM: Why did you choose employment in the adult entertainment
Matt: It was an honor to serve my country, but I personally felt lost and insecure
during my service in the Marine Corps, because I was gay and unable to be my
true self. My choice to begin working in the adult entertainment industry was a way to escape the reality that I was a gay man, in a military life that was unaccepting. It was my way of being OUT in a hidden community. Not to mention that I was young, and this industry pays better than a minimum wage 9-5 desk job.
CM: Why did you end your employment in the adult entertainment industry?
Matt: Over a year ago, I left the industry when I began thinking of my future. It just hit me that this industry is short lived and I want a career that I can retire from and be proud of. In the future I can see myself married and having children.
CM: What do you have to say to those people that will judge you for your past career choices?
Matt: Just because this was a choice I made in my past, it should not hinder my future career choices and the fact that I am eager to take a stand for equality and make a difference. I am much more than just my employment choices.
CM: What are your plans for the future?
Matt: I am currently enrolled at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and I intend to finish school and get my business degree.
With my Business Management degree, I hope to work in my Uncle’s law firm and continue being an activist for gay rights.
CM: How can your past experience positively affect others?
Matt: As we know now, my past experiences include wonderful decisions like joining the military and poor decisions like doing Adult films. Through it all, I've never stopped learning and growing into the man I am today. So if there is anything to take away from my story- it is that our lives and the values we hold should not be judged on our past alone. Our lives are a work in progress.
CM: Jarl and Michael, as the co-founders of the Mr Gay World USA organization, why would you choose a gay ambassador for the USA that has had employment in the adult entertainment industry?
Michael: I wouldn't choose an adult film star to be Mr Gay World USA- and I don't believe we did. We chose a young man who- much like myself, made some poor decisions that unfortunately would affect his entire life. I am a recovering alcoholic who was once arrested for drink driving and had spent years in and out of rehab- but have turned my life around since. I doubt any of us would want to be judged on our past but for who we are today and what we've learned along that way that makes us better and more healthy individuals.
Jarl: That’s a complicated question and we knew that this would cause a stir, but being gay and having had people judge me all my life, I feel that I am not going to be the one to judge. I was brought up in a very religious and conservative part of Norway and everyone judged. I decided early on that if people ask for forgiveness and want to be a better person than I am not the one to let the past hinder them. I feel that Matt is wonderful role model that will help many young gay men make positive choices by speaking about his past. So together, with the judges and our values and mission, we believe that Matt was the best choice. We
look ahead, we look forward. What’s ahead is much more important; Marriage equality, Gay adoption rights, human rights and equality for all, and Matt will be a great part of that.
I dream to inspire my peers to overcome the tough obstacles in their life and strive to be the best person they can, never
giving up on their dreams and never losing sight of who they are. Traveling to and living in many foreign countries for the better part of my childhood has allowed me to gain a respect for people living in other parts of the world that may not be as fortunate as many Americans are. I believe this makes me relatable to a diverse range of men, giving them someone they can easily look up
Photo courtesy TJ Sengel
ABC News Legend Barbara Walters and Broadway Stars Pay Tribute to America’s Service Members and Veterans in New York City
September 18 event in New York City will mark one year anniversary of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, honor Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), OutServe, and the Interbank Roundtable Committee (IRC) will present “Celebrating Our Heroes: A Tribute to America’s Service Members & Veterans,” next Tuesday, September 18 aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. Marking the first anniversary of the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law, the event will be a tribute to American service members and veterans and will honor former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, who played a significant leadership role in repeal, which took place on September 20, 2011.
Barbara Walters, ABC news correspondent and co-host of The View, will emcee the event featuring remarks by Admiral Mullen and three Broadway ensemble performances.
"This historic and emotional event presents a unique – indeed, a once in a lifetime – opportunity to reinforce the meaningful part that Admiral Mullen played in the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal process. No one played a more pivotal role than Admiral Mullen in securing the support of Congress and the military for repeal," said Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis.
Members of Congress and observers alike sat transfixed as Mullen testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 2, 2010, at the height of the repeal fight, saying: "No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."
Added Sarvis: “Barbara Walters as our emcee for the evening makes an already exciting lineup even more spectacular. It’s only fitting that America’s most influential and accomplished journalist - who has made history herself a time or two - would join us for this historic and emotional event.”
Walters has arguably interviewed more political figures and celebrities than any other journalist in history. She is so well known that her name and a brief biography is listed in the American Heritage Dictionary. In September 2004, after 25 years as co-host and chief correspondent of ABC News' 20/20, Ms. Walters left the show to begin a new phase in her career at the network as co-owner, co-executive producer and co-host of The View. She remains an active member of the news division and network, substantially increasing the number of primetime ABC News specials, in addition to her "Barbara Walters Specials." Through the years she has interviewed such world figures as Russia's Boris Yeltsin, China's Premier Jiang Zemin, Great Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Libya's Moammar Qadaffi and Iraq's President Sadaam Hussein. She was also the first American journalist to interview Russia's President Vladimir Putin and the first to interview President and Mrs. Bush following September 11. She has interviewed every American President and First Lady since Richard Nixon. She made journalism history by arranging the first joint interview with Egypt's President Anwar Sadat and Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin in November 1977.
The September 18 celebration in New York City will be the first in a series events hosted by SLDN and OutServe across the country during the week to commemorate the first year of open service by America's gay and lesbian service members. It is sponsored by: UBS - Verizon - Bank of America - Bloomberg - BNY Mellon - DiversityInc - Viacom - Winston & Strawn LLP - Absolut - Citigroup - Ernst & Young - GlaxoSmithKline - HBO - Hilton Worldwide - Human Rights Campaign - Hershey’s - Log Cabin Republicans - Merck - Miller Lite - Renna Communications - UPS - Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids - Comcast & NBC/Universal - Credit Suisse - GM - Informatica - SAP - Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP - Gay City News - FSIX - Interbank Roundtable Committee - The OUT NYC - KTCHN - XL Nightclub
The event will begin with a VIP reception at 5:30 p.m. A general admission event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will conclude at 9:30 p.m. For more information, to sponsor the event, or to purchase tickets, visit www.sldn.org/intrepid2012
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is located at Pier 86 in New York City.
Look for an in-depth review of the event in Connextions Magazine, Issue 9, which releases November 2012. Don't miss release of the next issue by subscribing here.
To check out the line up of celebs who attended the event, click here for photos by TJ Sengel.
ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: Call 1-800-538-7418 or 202-328-3244 x100. For more information, visit www.sldn.org.
ABOUT OUTSERVE: OutServe is the association of actively-serving LGBT military personnel. With more than 5,500 members and 50+ chapters worldwide, it is one of the largest LGBT employee resource groups in the world. OutServe works to support a professional network of LGBT military personnel and create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. For more information, visit www.outserve.org.
ABOUT INTERBANK ROUNDTABLE COMMITTEE: The Interbank Roundtable Committee’s (IRC) is a voluntary NY-based ‘network of networks’ with representatives from 28 financial services industry organization’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Employee Resource Groups (ERG). The IRC serves as an open forum where members share best practices on promoting inclusive work environments and policies, engaging senior management and straight allies, building ERG membership and coordinating networking, professional development, and philanthropic activities across the industry. The IRC helps members build their professional network within the financial industry, while also promoting the financial industry as the industry of choice for LGBT individuals. For more information, visit www.interbanknyc.org
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