How I define myself

Published 31, Oct, 2017
Author // Félix Garmendía

New York guy Félix Garmendía: "The way we relate or identify to another human being, should always include a kind and proper choice of words."

How I define myself

There are many ways to refer to somebody when you can’t remember their name or you might be identifying someone in a picture. We all have defined ourselves by different circumstances in life. Some of those definitions are temporary, others like race, sexual orientation and personal beliefs seem to be more lasting in most people. Have you ever wondered what would be your answer if somebody asks you out of the specific context of a conversation a simple 3 word question? – “What are you”? Would your answer be the same as somebody who doesn’t remember your name and it’s looking for a way to refer to you? Everybody has a different perception of us, because of that, we are always going to get different adjectives.

I have heard many ways people use to refer to others. The “fat one”, the “pretty one”, the “tall” one...

Many of these characteristics are totally relative. What do you consider fat? What is your idea of beauty? or, tall compared to whom?

The way you choose to “define” another person, says more about you than about them. Ask yourself the following questions when referring to someone else. Is my comment going to be kind? Is it accurate? Does it include a generalization, racist, sexist or homophobic component?

I’m a man in my fifties, disabled, democrat, atheist, gay, Latino among other things. These descriptions are all acceptable to me. I don’t mind people saying, “You know, Felix, the Latino”. Other descriptions, make me uncomfortable. They might even be the same ones that I accepted before in a different tone that might sound patronizing or derogative. They can also be unkind answers, judgmental ones or simply rude ways of referring to somebody else.

The way we relate or identify to another human being, should always include a kind and proper choice of words. It’s time for some people to change the way they refer to others. It’s time to show love in the words we communicate to others. Our society has forgotten the meaning of respect. Let’s think about this the next time we choose an adjective to describe somebody. After all, we are all stars shining bright in the same universe, dancing to our own tune. Choose beauty instead of ugliness. Kindness and love will define you instead of the lack of love.

About the Author

Félix Garmendía

Félix Garmendía

"I was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in the 60s. Living in Puerto Rico, and growing up there was a bumpy process. I was very aware of my homosexual identity at a very early age, so fighting the stigma was a very intense journey in my native island.

I love art. The Ponce Art Museum was my shelter since I was in high school. As my first job ever, I guided bilingual tours for locals and tourists from all over the world.

In high school, I was introduced to music and theater, after that, I chose to pursue a B.A. in theater at the U.P.R. ( University of Puerto Rico ). Rio Piedras campus.

In college, I discovered many things about myself. My sexual identity became established, my religious beliefs changed dramatically and my awareness of my role in society became the first and biggest challenge of my life. I became a proud gay man, an atheist and an activist. The political climate in Puerto Rico was very far away from recognizing any kind of gay rights so I knew that I needed a community that I could call my own, and be myself. After several years in Puerto Rico, in my twenties, I moved to N.Y.C. to pursue a Master’s Degree in Art Education and Art Criticism at New York University. I decided to stay in Manhattan. Here I found myself. I discovered my passions, causes to fight for, and the strong community that I always dreamed of. I became a passionate man with strong convictions.

After graduation I became a N.Y.C. school teacher. I taught art in the South Bronx, Spanish Harlem and Upper Manhattan for 15 years.

Sometime in my twenties, I was exposed to HIV. I tested HIV-positive and after a serious depression, came out strong and victorious. I became an AIDS activist. My passions in life became the gears that fed energy into my existence.

Very early in my N.Y.C. years, I became a staunch liberal. All my causes were related. I was trying to survive in a world where not everybody cared if I did or not. Politics made clear who cared for me as a human being.

That’s why I’m very vocal about my postings. Not because I want to convince anybody, but I do it for those who, like me, once needed some direction in life. I want to share the "real" me with those friends with similar beliefs or at least respect for my beliefs.

Today, I still live in Manhattan. I’m legally married to my husband Denis Beale and I’m disabled. My life is not easy, I have several health related conditions that are a real challenge these days. This bring me to another one of my causes. From personal experience, I believe in the legalization of cannabis (marijuana). 

I consider myself a loving, compassionate and spiritual person. I have no patience for bigotry, especially the kind of sanctimonious bigotry that wraps itself in prayer and fake compassion.

This is a synopsis of who I am. It would be really helpful to start introducing myself with my favorite warning. Warning: I’m human, far from perfect, passionate about life, the pursue of difficult answers, and the conviction that we are all equal."

Felix has been featured in The Huffington Post’s Queer Voices; see the piece here

You can follow Felix on Facebook here or here, on twitter @PozHeart and also on Instagram, here.