Brandon Clay is somewhat insulated from the usual Black Friday insanity. As a boutique director for high-end jewelry store David Yurman at Tysons Galleria, he doesn’t have to show up for work at midnight or worry about “door buster” sales.
“We don’t have sales but there’s a lot of increased traffic and it’s very busy all weekend,” the 31-year-old Longview, Texas, native says. “We do about 30 percent of our business for the year between Thanksgiving and Christmas so it’s just so busy and I feel a responsibility to the store to be there all the time.”
And with family still in Texas, the tight schedule makes it impossible to get home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Clay plans a trip in January.
“Every person in retail feels a little ripped off with the holidays,” he says. “But in a way you get used to it at the same time too. You can’t really hold a grudge because it’s what you signed up for. We knew this is a given when we got into it.”
Clay says he didn’t “necessarily” plan a career in retail, having studied film and TV production in college. He spent four years with Louis Vuitton but says his current employer is much more employee friendly. He manages a staff of 10 and moved to the D.C. area in 2010 with the company.
Clay and his boyfriend of four-and-a-half years, John Saldana, live together in Arlington. Clay enjoys running, singing, charity events, movies, hiking and fashion in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have been out since my sophomore year in college. Of course it was hardest to tell my family because I grew up in the “Bible Belt” of the South and they were/are very religious.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I love Ellen because she’s a proud lesbian but it’s not all about that. Look at her show and her appeal. She’s someone who came out and is embraced by everyone because she’s just an amazing person who also happens to be gay. That’s what I try to emulate.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I have to say I love Cobalt and Nellie’s when I’m feeling festive. I will head to Number 9 if I want to have more of a low-key evening.
Describe your dream wedding.
The ocean and a beautiful beach, our best friends and family with a beautiful cabana draped with white fabric and covered with white flowers. At the end of the ceremony, we would release candle-lit lanterns into the sky at sunset.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
For me, it’s all about health issues. If we don’t have our health, we have nothing. I’m passionate about breast cancer, Leukemia and Lymphoma and HIV-related issues.
What historical outcome would you change?
I wouldn’t change a thing because I’m a firm believer in things happening because they were meant to happen. Imagine if JFK or MLK had not been assassinated. Not to make light of those tragedies, but one could argue that their legacies had more impact because of their untimely deaths.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The election of President Barack Obama. I know it’s been a few years, but I couldn’t believe that we had an African-American First Family.
On what do you insist?
I insist on honesty, integrity and a sense of decorum. I like to surround myself with people of good character.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Who is seeing Beyoncé for the second time this year soon? This guy!”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Buying Fabulous On Layaway”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I wouldn’t do anything except ask where the cure for cancer or HIV was because we have bigger fish to fry. I love whom I love and I’m happy with it.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I definitely believe in a God that loves us all exactly how he created us.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep up the fight because things take time. Don’t push too hard and don’t get discouraged.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
The chance to see my deceased grandmother again.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That gay guys are always weak and feminine. I can change the oil on my car and rotate my tires, among other things. And I carry jumper cables and a tire iron in my trunk.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Priscilla Queen of the Desert” or “To Wong Foo.” Tough choice!
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Saying “Hi how are you?” to someone you don’t know. I think it’s safe to say that you don’t even listen to the response and heaven forbid they actually stopped and told you how they really are. I really am a nice person I swear!
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
The award from my company for the largest event of spring 2012 company wide.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I was worth more than I would ever know.
It’s such a fascinating place as well as an international melting pot of individuals. Living and breathing history is all around us. It makes you want to do something — to be something more.