When I was asked to write a letter to encapsulate my thoughts on Pride Month, I wondered,
“Who would want to hear anything I have to say?”
I’m not a gay icon. I’m just a man who happens to be gay. The task caused me to pause and reflect on my role and Solomon Group's role in furthering the work of ensuring equality for all people. As an organization, we have the power as a collective to create platforms for authentic stories to be told.
This really made me wonder: “Is my story worth telling?”
When I was 16 years old in 2002, I truly had the most unique extracurricular activity of any of my classmates. I was an assistant for a drag queen in the French Quarter, learning the art of costume construction. The memory that sticks with me is how this amazing man and I would work all evening, making the costume, lugging it through the sweaty streets of the French Quarter, and then by 11 PM, through make-up and magic, he became a glamorous performer that mesmerized the audience. Watching that transformation was really amazing, and it solidified for me that my career choice of working in theater production was exactly where I wanted to be.
I had my entire career mapped out from a young age. My parents were always very encouraging, from being supportive when I came out to not batting an eye when at age 12, I announced I wanted to be a theatrical lighting designer. That year, my father even took me to the United States Institute for Theatre Technology conference in Minneapolis.
I’ve always had unconditional support. And in that way, I was very lucky. I also had the privilege to attend the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts in high school, which was the first truly supportive place I found outside of my family.
But if you had told me 15 years ago that I would one day be married and would have children, I would not have believed you. Gay marriage was a pipedream for many, but honestly, it wasn’t even on my radar. I’m a very realistic, pragmatic person. Why dream about something that isn’t a possibility?
My life felt full and happy even though it never looked like I would get married and have a family of my own.
I worked on Broadway in the stage management department of The Phantom of the Opera starting at 17 and on several other Broadway shows throughout my time studying theater in college. I traveled with a great friend group, started a company, worked on some of the biggest live events and broadcasts in the country, and discovered a new passion for producing museum exhibits.
Then in 2015, my carefully curated life plans changed as marriage became a reality for many gay people in America. Everything shifted.
All of a sudden, the thing I could never have was a possibility. Fast forward a few years and I have a wonderful husband, a gorgeous daughter, and a new son on the way ready to be born any day. If you had told my younger self that this would be my life, I would not have believed you.
I’m grateful for this life I have, and that I have the freedom to be a husband and a father. I feel like I can be my authentic self, because I have the same freedoms as everyone else. That feeling of ease carries with me into my company, where knowing I’m accepted I can just be myself, my authentic self. And I truly believe when we are given the freedom to be our most authentic selves, that is where creativity and excellence bloom.
Solomon Group aims to be a supportive workplace. We are the people behind a great performance or an innovative museum exhibit. We work with the best of the best in sports, media, entertainment, and cultural institutions. Our designers, producers, fabricators, creative technologists, and project managers are artists, creatives, and makers.
We create places, spaces, and moments that connect with people in unforgettable ways. We create an environment that allows people to be immersed in a story. We are behind the scenes supporting those who are bravely telling their stories through the power of live experience. And those at Solomon Group are equally brave as those in the spotlight. Without them, the entire production will not feel authentic.
Our success though is due in part to our supportive culture, people, and clients, because if you feel safe in the knowledge that your community supports you, you will be free to be your true self and produce your best work. That lesson I learned – from the drag queens of the French Quarter, to backstage at Broadway, and then in my marriage – is as true then as it is now:
“Authenticity breeds excellence, and authenticity only resides within a supportive community.”
The work we do to elevate and amplify important stories that need to be told is meaningful and powerful work that advances the cause. It gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. With much of the country divided on this and other issues, I know there is still much to be done before there is true equality.
That is why Solomon Group proudly displays our National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) certification. We work during Pride month and every day to carry the torch. Whether you march in a parade, or keep the spirit of pride in your heart, you are welcome here.
Our motto at Solomon Group is “Made For This,” and I want everyone we work with, employees and clients, to know that you are important, valuable, and have a gift the world needs. Every facet of your personal and professional journey has prepared you for this moment, this challenge, and this life.
Maybe my story IS worth telling after all. And yours is too. All of your experiences made you who you are, and you are indeed “Made For This.”
Co - Founder & CEO