For many gays who grew up in conservative religious households, going home for the holidays can be a tough notion.
Michael Amesquita was out among friends in college but having been raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and in a small town in Illinois where he says he literally didn’t know one other gay person, coming out to everyone in his life was a tough prospect especially because until a few years ago, he was still active in his church.
“Well, they’ve quit asking if I’m seeing any girls,” the 38-year-old Sterling, Ill., native says of his family with a chuckle. “It’s kind of the big elephant in the closet but I’m sure that will change when I bring somebody home for Christmas.”
Amesquita is assistant director of the summer housing program at George Washington University, a year-round position that involves coordinating the schedules of about 19,000 people who stay on campus for varying lengths of time each summer. After many years in Las Vegas, Amesquita came to Washington in 2007 to look for graduate schools and stayed. He came out fully in 2009 and found support in Affirmation (a gay Mormon group) and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, which has its holiday show this weekend (details at gmcw.org).
Amesquita is single and lives in the Logan Circle area. He enjoys volleyball, kickball, singing, camping and biking in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have two “coming outs.” I came out to my fraternity brother and everyone at college back in 2003 but didn’t start coming out to my family and church till December 2009. The hardest person would be my father. He is very much an introvert and I knew it would be hard to gauge his reaction.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
There are so many wonderful people who champion our cause. I belong to two organizations that I care about deeply — Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Family and Friends and The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. Both have histories that go back more than 30 years. Thirty years of standing up for equality and paving the way so we can be where we are today.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
When I do go out I have always had a good time at Town but that could be the Vegas in me. Usually it is a karaoke bar with buddies or a game night with friends and drinks. Anywhere with friends.
Describe your dream wedding.
Either on the beach with the ocean next to us or in the Utah mountains with the cornucopia of colors of fall. In either case it would be with all my loved ones.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
What historical outcome would you change?
The assassination of Kennedy. I would really like to see what kind of impact he could have had in the long run.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
When I was in Vegas I worked at the MGM and was lucky enough to be able to check-in the VIPs for the ESPYs and Billboards for two years. I got to chat it up with Drew Breeze, R. Kelly, Avril Lavigne, etc. as they checked in. Most of them were really nice and Kathy Griffin was absolutely hysterical.
On what do you insist?
That people have integrity and be authentic. There just isn’t time to waste on people who spend time putting on an image or false facade. When I do find friends who are true to themselves and have good values I hold on tight.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
It was picture of my Holland America Tour Director vest with all these pins from the various cities in Alaska. So much flair!
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Pioneering My Own Faith: A Gay Mormon’s Story”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Stay the same. Changing people from LGBT to straight would be like taking all the color out of the world.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe we have a father in heaven that loves us all and wants us all to return back to him.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep moving forward on behalf of all LGBT people.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Definitely for my family and loved ones. Probably for being the sole winner of Mega Bucks!
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That LGBT people do not play sports.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“The Birdcage.” My straight fraternity brother actually told me about it in college.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Saying something after someone sneezes.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I just completed my master’s this year so I have my eye on a Ph.D. in the future.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That high school doesn’t really matter and life begins in college.
Came to check out graduate schools and I have stayed this long because of all that D.C. has to offer.