Dan Carter’s yoga obsession started when he was trying to attract the attention of the girl he wanted to take to prom.
“She was obsessed with yoga and after a few classes, so was I,” the 27-year-old Philomont, Va., native says. “In the end I realized I didn’t like girls ‘that way’ but I did like the yoga. We’re both yoga teachers now.”
Carter says the appeal for him is the idea that it takes you “completely within your own body.”
“You can feel and control internal processes like breath, pulse, digestion, temperature regulation and pain,” he says. “A lot of people thought the famous yogis of the early 20th century were supernatural because they could do this kind of stuff. I’m not anywhere near that level, but I’m working at it.”
Carter has been teaching for four years. For the first two, he taught part time while working at the Discovery Channel. Two years ago he started teaching full time.
“I was really nervous when I took the leap, but I’m so much happier and healthier now. It’s very cathartic and thought provoking for me. I have a hard time turning off my brain, but during a great yoga class, I’m totally in my own space and in control of my mind and body.”
Carter teaches 15-20 classes per week at Past Tense, VIDA Fitness, Flow Yoga Center and the Capital Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness. He’s hosting a four-day “very nontraditional” yoga retreat he calls Summer Camp for Adults Aug. 31-Sept. 3 at the Blue Mountain Retreat Center. The promo code JOINTHEPACK at danimalyoga.com makes it $445 for the trip with meals, classes and accommodations included.
Carter says he has lots of gay students in his classes.
“It depends where I teach,” he says. “I lead weekly naked yoga classes and those are almost completely gay. At VIDA, I also have a large gay and lesbian population.”
Carter — “Danimal” to his friends — is engaged to Cassidy DuHon. They live together in Shaw. Carter enjoys drag and Bloons Tower (an iPad game) in his free time.
“I teach a very intentional, anatomy-focused style of yoga and at the end of the day, I need something totally ridiculous to distract me.”
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out for eight years. The hardest people to tell were my fraternity brothers. In the end they’ve been some of the coolest and most accepting people.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Right now, Adam Rippon. He’s one of the first gay celebrities who is unabashed to be feminine and talk about gay sex openly. I think femmephobia in the gay community is super toxic and it’s good to see him just being himself.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Trade. The owners and managers have worked really hard to make it an inclusive and alternative space for LGBT nightlife. Some of my best friends have launched parties or nightlife careers there. They support our local drag community and queer culture in a really amazing way. I think they really have their finger on the pulse of where gay culture is headed.
Describe your dream wedding.
My wedding that’s coming up this spring! We’re getting married at Pineapple Point in Ft. Lauderdale. It’s a drag-encouraged wedding and we have some real gags planned. Imagine “The Birdcage” meets “Miami Vice” meets “Golden Girls” meets a Cyndi Lauper video.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Right now I’m only focused on LGBT issues. I think under the current administration, it’s important to lift each other up. Recently I’ve focused on partnering with the transgender community here in D.C. Last fall my friend Leah Haile and I led a yoga class called Shine Yoga where we partnered with The D.C. Center to help educate the gay community about trans issues and how we can be allies. This summer I volunteered to be roasted to fundraise for Trans Women of Color Collective. With the incredible help of their executive director Dr. Hunter, we raised $3,000.
What historical outcome would you change?
I’m less focused on what I wish could be changed and more on what I can change. When Trump won in 2016 I spent a year being stressed and having unhealthy anxiety about my future. I’ve gotten past that and use my energy elevating the gay community, living an unabashed queer lifestyle and helping my friends, family and students be as happy and healthy as possible.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The Lady Gaga, Beyonce “Telephone” music video premiere.
On what do you insist?
I think people use the word “sorry” way too much. I think it should be reserved for serious situations.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A video from my roast. If you like it or laugh, make sure to donate to the Trans Women of Color Collective!
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“A Series of Fortunate Events”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I’m still exploring my relationship with the spiritual world. I don’t think I need to have it figured out yet. I do my best to be a good person, be kind to others, animals and our planet — to me that’s what matters most.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Don’t isolate the letters and reach out to other minority communities. I think cis, white, gay men need to work harder to ask our trans friends and friends of color how we can be allies.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
A really cute dog.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That they have a certain body type. We come in all shapes and sizes and the sexiest thing to me is a bold personality.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie or TV show?
I love “Pose” on FX right now! I think it’s elevating trans, black and Latino narratives in the wider context of the gay community.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Wearing a shirt in public. D.C. is a swamp! We take our shirts off during Pride, why not all year round?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
My red, suede, fringe, stiletto, heel boots. They look like they belong in a Shania Twain video and I LOVE them.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
I wish I had known that people would not just accept my most authentic self, but celebrate it. I am much happier letting my freak flag fly and being honest with my family and friends. I think it gives them permission to do the same with me.
The District keeps getting weirder and cooler, you just have to know where to look for it. If you’re the kind of person who’s looking for that kind of crowd I encourage you to come to my naked yoga class or if that’s not your thing, just come to Trade and say hello to me. My friends and I want to continue building queer community here in D.C.