Mini Episode 7 Sebastian
Elena Joy: Welcome to Out of Queeriosity, your Field Guide to Queer Pride. This is a production of Pride and Joy Foundation and I'm your host, Elena Joy pronouns. She her. You have found a bonus episode. Our theme this year is your voice, your power. We are using it to pursue our mission of preventing suicide and homelessness in our LGBTQ plus community by amplifying your voice and your power.
Our bonus episodes feature the voices of the most recent graduates of our keynote queers program. This is our eight week online course just for lgbtq plus participants to learn public speaking skills as well as the knowledge to build public speaking into an extra form of income. Whether our participants were pitching their own small business or upleveling their presentation skills for their corporate career, or just learning how to effectively move audiences to take action.
Our keynote queers gave a hell of a graduation presentation and we are here to share it with you. Can you even imagine squishing an entire keynote into just 10 minutes? This is considered expert level skills in the public speaking world. And it was our graduates capstone project. Check back in the summer of 2023 to hear from another keynote queer graduate.
Now let's get to it.
Our next keynote, queer is Sebastian Dziuk, pronouns, he him. Sebastian is a certified life coach, author, and speaker who coaches queer entrepreneurs in creating their own queer and thriving life. Sebastian's experience as a visible queer and trans man. Entrepreneur and 10 year US Army Veteran gives him unique skills and perspectives to help his clients. Sebastian is a contributing author to the bestselling book, thriving in Business Strategies for the LGBTQ Plus Entrepreneur, and with honor and Integrity, transgender troops in their own words. With his presentation, live Your queer and Thriving Life. I give you Sebastian.
Sebastian: Don't ask, don't tell. It loomed over the heads of queer members for 20 years. A few months after it was repealed, I joined the military. At 17 years old, I was an out visibly queer woman, and I joined the military. There are a few things in life that create permanency. Joining the military at 17 years old is one of them.
A couple of years later, I began exploring my gender identity while I was preparing for my first deployment to the Middle East. This had to be done discreetly because being transgender and in the military was still banned while overseas. I had one friend that I could talk to about being transgender with. Beyond that, I took refuge in a site called Tumblr. Where I found an anonymous blog of a sailor who is also trans and deployed, but he was found out. He connected me with a community called Sparta, a transgender military advocacy organization that connected hundreds of currently serving transgender service members who are serving in secret just like me. Sparta provided a community and representation not only for us, amongst us, but also to the White House. And to the Department of Defense, Sparta was instrumental in getting the trans ban lifted despite the obstacles that I went through. I would repeat my military experience all over again because it is what taught me the importance of community and the impact that representation can have.
Representation of queer and transgender people is important in all areas of life. At one point the number of trans men entrepreneurs that I could readily find online, I could count on one hand maybe. When we think about representation, we want to find people who we see ourselves in who have similar upbringings to us, who we can relate to, who look like us.
We need this representation in the books that we read, in the media that we watch, and in the relationships that we see. In business, we need people that we can look up to, people with similar backgrounds, who've had similar challenges, who look like us, who are at the level that we want to be at. That's not there for queer people today, especially transgender people. After 14 seasons, Shark Tank, one of the longest running business reality TV shows, featured a trans man last fall. Say what you will about reality TV, but the difference that this representation makes in the lives of thousands of queer people is important and impactful. When we see queer people succeed, it shows us what is possible.
What is possible is living a queer and thriving life, and it starts with listening to your heart. Donald Trump was president. My mind was telling me one thing and my heart was telling me another. I had a big decision to make to either stay and re-enlist in the military or to leave probably forever. Many scenarios were running through my head. And this was a lot more difficult because I was an out, proud and visibly queer and transgender soldier, and Trump was actively trying to get trans troops out of the military. He was trying to kick me out after serving six years honorably and a deployment to the Middle East. So part of me just wanted to get out from serving from under him.
Another part of me didn't want to let this bigot have the final say in my military career. I didn't want to let him control my future, so I figured I had a few options. Either I could just get out and live my life, or I could reenlist and deal with the uncertainty. He could kick us all out anyway. He could put a ban on reenlistment or maybe. Nothing would happen. I decided to reenlist for another six years to buy some time for hopefully a new president to come along and reverse any of the decisions Trump made. We all have experiences where it felt like we didn't have a choice. External circumstances and voices are always going to be there.
The key to remember is that we have the final choice. You can be queer and thrive. Listen to your heart. Quitting my MBA program to become a life coach was one of the best decisions that I've ever made. That might sound risky to some of you, but every time that I looked for jobs I could get with an MBA, I got a pit in my stomach. It wasn't the path for me. When I listened to my heart, I knew I made the right decision. I was chasing a degree for a six figure career. I was chasing unhappiness. I chose the path of a life coach, and now I get to coach. I get to speak, and I get to help other queer people live their version of a queer and thriving life.
It takes work, courage, guidance, and support to live from your heart. One day I was sitting on the couch in my living room. And a wave of gratitude just washed over me. My husband and I just bought a house coming from a low income background. This was a dream, A dream that we had achieved Every decision that I made for my heart. Joining in the military, hiring coaches, working with a therapist, and digging deep into my mindset, it was all worth it. It took courage and vulnerability to create this life. Euphoria and joy do not have to come in the form of purchasing a home. It can be in taking a vacation, eating at your favorite restaurant, or snuggling with your pet at the end of a long day. Euphoria and joy looks different to each of us. It is part of living your version of a queer and thriving life. Thank you.
Elena Joy: I hope you enjoyed this bonus episode featuring our keynote career graduates coming this fall is the companion course Outright Authors. This online six week course is a path to publishing class for queer authors of nonfiction books. If you're a thought leader, a business leader, or just have some amazing non-fiction words that the world needs to hear, we want you in this class. Visit outright authors.com for more info. That's outright, O U T W R I T E authors. Dot com, a limited number of scholarships will be available. Thank you for joining us, pride and Joy Fam. Until the next episode, be good to yourselves. I appreciate you.