My Inspirations: Chad Michaels & Raja

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Who is Chad Michaels?

Chad’s Michaels is the runner up of the fourth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and the winner of Drag Race All Stars. Chad is first and foremost a Cher impersonator. Chad has admitted that she has invested so much into her impersonation, that she has Cher to thank for just about everything in her life.

Chad was referred to during the course of Drag Race as “momma” since Chad was a mentor figure to the other contestants during season four. One of Chad’s famous quotes from the show is “I’m a professional.” Chad exudes what it means to take one’s craft professionally. Chad knows down to the most insignificant details how to impersonate Cher in a realistic fashion, and has talked about that while on the show.

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How does Chad inspire me?

I try to embody the phrase “I’m a professional.” I have made mistake in my life, but they have contributed to my knowledge, and I’m a better person for having made them. Chad also admits that she’s made bad choices, and has talked about them. Just like how Latrice has gotten up and went on to greatness, so has Chad.

Chad is also a perfectionist. I’ve dealt with trying to always be 100% perfect as well, so I see that part of me in Chad when I saw her on TV. At work, I beat myself up mentally if even a single thing goes wrong or is out of place.

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Who is Raja?

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Raja’s is the winner of the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Raja is also the make-up artist for the fourth through twelfth cycles of America’s Next Top Model. Raja has done the make-up for  Dita von Teese, Pamela Anderson, Paulina Porizkova, Iman, Tyra Banks, Twiggy, and most famously for Adam Lambert.

Raja described herself on Drag Race as “a model, uber stylish, doing stuff that Gaga was doing before Gaga even knew about it.” When she walked in the work room for the first time, she stunned everyone else with her look. In turn, they all underestimated her and she went on to win the season.

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How does Raja inspire me?

Much like Chad, Raja is a very serious professional. Having worked with widely known, A-list celebrities, Raja sets high expectations for herself. Nearly all of my exposure to Raja has been through Drag Race, which shapes Raja’s influence over me.

Over the course of the show, Raja was constantly raising the bar and outdoing herself in her style and presentations. Raja was always pulling out unexpected looks, and was described as editorial.

To that end, I seek to exude similar traits myself. Raja is versatile, showing looks in many different genres, and plenty of different styles. I like to diversify myself professionally as well. I know about more than one position at my current job, and have studied many different aspects of both theater and business. Raja knows how to command attention and execute her craft with perfection.

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The biggest takeaway I get from Raja is working on perfecting my own style. Raja has been in the industry long enough that while she is always learning and improving, she has perfected her own style and knows how to execute it. I am still a complete novice when it comes to fashion, but I have people who are teaching me how to better myself specific to menswear.

"Rupaul's Drag Race" Season 5 Finale, Reunion & Coronation Taping

Thanks Chad Michaels and Raja, for being inspirations!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

How To Get Started On Twitter

My friend Bridget runs a blog that’s been going on for a few years now on building social media profiles, and Twitter is her bread and butter. I’m going to line up her posts in a logical way to show you how to build yourself up on it.

The one thing I can recommend doing while reading/watching videos – make a personal twitter for yourself to practice with! Bridget runs several accounts – a personal one, the business one, her social media advice one, her political one, so on and so on. I have two – my public and my secret one where the “non-professional” stuff goes.

First Step.

She gets way more energetic in future videos, I promise! In that post/video, she explains what makes Twitter different from other social networks. In short, it’s the conversations that take place there.

Second Step.

We all start somewhere. This is how Bridget got started.

Third Step.

This is the first thing to start working on as the manager for your account. You’ll use this as a baseline for keeping yourself organized.

Fourth Step.

This is the best definition of hashtag you will find on the internet. This will become one of your most used tools on Twitter.

Fifth Step.

Now that you have the account organized and are thinking about what hashtags you can use as tools to build conversations, here’s the next part of building your account.

Sixth Step.

As you build followers it’s time to start learning about how to Retweet. My personal favorite is the Old School RT. Comment tweet is my second choice, and Rewrite Tweet is what I’ll do when posting articles from my online news reader.

Side note – you will see Hootsuite and Tweetdeck mentioned a few times at this point. Using one of them is for the power users, and eventually you’ll work your way up to them.

Seventh Step.

By now you’ve been building your conversations, you’re RTing other accounts and following new people/places and building your twitter lists. Now it’s time to create your influence.

Final Step.

This is how to think of twitter in the long term, and I get a mention in this post!

When you reach this point, you can start moving over to Tweetdeck (my favorite, since it updates in real time) or Hootsuite (which I love using through Feedly desktop) to step up your game to the professional level. Bridget’s GuruMinute Video series and her advanced “Keys To Being Social” series compliment everything said above, and are the next steps to being a Twitter professional.

Respectfully Submitted,
Lukas Condie

Happy National Coming Out Day!

*Revised for 2014. Originally published in 2011.

For those that aren’t aware, today is National Coming Out Day – a holiday to celebrate who you are. Today is all about being true to your own identity.

As of this post, I’ve been “out” for 8 years, 3 months, and 24 days, as I officially came out on June 17th, 2006. It’s been quite a road since then, and I have not only a lot to be thankful for today, but a lot to reflect on.

I didn’t even accept my own identity internally until 2004, fighting with myself every day for years to try and change myself. It wasn’t until someone I considered a good friend at the time tried to “exorcise” me with an actual sword that I realized I wasn’t going to change, and I started learning to accept myself. I decided to set my coming out for one week after High School graduation, since the climate for LGBT people at my high school was fairly hostile at the time.

My first year out of the closet was challenging, learning to handle the day to day issues of being out in the world that wasn’t as accepting as it is today (and even today there’s still a lot of room for improvement!) I dealt with sexual abuse, and felt alone for a chunk of the year, not discovering UW-Parkside’s Rainbow Alliance until mid-spring 2007. I had very little awareness of any LGB issues, and didn’t even know the term Transgender at that point.

My second year is when things got easier. I joined Rainbow and became business manager, giving me not only a more solid identity in the community, but also something that stayed solid for me as I transitioned from Stage Management to Entrepreneurship as a major area of study. That year was also racked with challenges – trying to keep everyone organized in the middle of some organization growing pains.

My third year was stronger yet, working alongside one of my greatest LGBT community mentors and starting my first relationship. I was learning a ton and really starting to get comfortable with myself.

My fourth year was more maturation of identity, using my experiences and beginning to lead others in the LGBT community (I had started looking for someone to take over as BM for after I would leave Rainbow) and further learning about the LGBT community as a whole. This was my second year as an activist, since it was the second year I feel I could understand what was going on.

My fifth year brought me some transition, handing off my position in Rainbow, and seeing that one’s sexual orientation and gender identity and expression aren’t the only parts to each person. Everyone has both, but everyone also has other passions, careers, dreams, aspirations, and plenty of other things that make up identity. That’s why everyone is unique – while many of us share many things in common, no two people are exactly alike. This is the magic of life, and something I love about every person I meet. I’ve been trying to demonstrate the many layers to myself through my series of Inspirational People postings.

The past three years have been less about developing my identity itself, but rather looking to start defining what I look for in a relationship. I am always learning and bettering myself when it comes to understanding different identities, but I understand mine more solidly than I ever have before.

What’s your story?

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Inspirations: Lupin & Slughorn

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Who is Remus Lupin?

Remus Lupin is a character in the Harry Potter book series. Lupin first appeared in the third book of the series, and was a supporting character until the end of the final book.

(Source for Lupin’s bio here.)

Remus was compassionate, intelligent, calm, tolerant, levelheaded, brave, kind, and good-natured. To much of the world, he seemed rather shy and drawn-in. Despite having suffered a great deal of prejudice in his life due to his lycanthropy, he managed to retain an ability to see the good in almost everybody and was extremely forgiving. He also had an excellent sense of humour, and when he was a student at school, was one of the Marauders. However, unlike his friends, he never partook in bullying. He hence could be described as the most mature, responsible one of the group. He even became a prefect in his fifth year. Also, unlike his friends, he was able to, or at least would try to maintain civil conversation with those he did not get along well with, a notable example being Snape.

Remus was unusually perceptive, with an uncanny ability to guess the thoughts of those around him. This is especially clear in his conversations with Harry, such as his intuiting that Harry was afraid that he thought he couldn’t handle working with the boggart. He was a gifted teacher, with a rare flair for his subject and a profound understanding of his pupils. He was, as ever, drawn to the underdog, and Neville Longbottom especially benefitted from his wisdom and encouragement.

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How does Lupin inspire me?

I was told a few years back that I remind people of a real-life Lupin. I have strived to emulate all of the qualities described of Lupin above. I try to be the good-natured, non-judgemenal friend to anyone I encounter. Just like how Lupin is described as the mature, responsible member of his group of friends, I’ve been told the same thing by my own friends on more than one occasion. The bottom line is that I can very easily relate to Lupin.

Lupin is often misunderstood, being that he is a werewolf. For various reasons, I feel the same way. On a daily basis at work, I’m often commenting “This is why I don’t make jokes – when I do, no one gets them!” I’ve been ostracized for being gay, for being an introvert, for having knowledge about BDSM, and for various other subjects. I see these traits and knowledge as interesting and it makes up a part of who I am, but I can also understand that these can be scary subjects to others. In turn, I empathize with other’s strange qualities as well, and always try to offer a safe place for friends and acquaintances to vent to about their weirdness.

Lupin, like the character Dumbledore, is very forgiving of others, and tends to give others the benefit of the doubt. Like what’s mentioned above, I have a tendency to see only the good in others and ignore their faults, weaknesses, or bad points.

I see Lupin as the kind of adult I want to become a few more years down the road.

Who is Horace Slughorn?

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(My source for Horace Slughorn’s bio is here.)

Horace Slughorn was described as having a bumbling, jovial sort of personality. He was rather vain and quite fond of food, especially crystallised pineapple. Despite being a relatively good-natured person, he only had eyes for people who he thought had talent, would go far in life, and thus give him helpful connections and be able to influence or gain benefits from them. Thus, while he invited other students to his “Slug Club,” he had a tendency to rudely ignore people like Ronald Weasley because he didn’t view them as important, talented, or famous enough to warrant his attention.

Slughorn generally displayed the more positive traits of Slytherin, such as ambition. He never wished to be famous himself; instead, he preferred to help others become famous, which, if successful, gained him influence and/or benefits from them, such as being able to recommend the next junior member of the Goblin Liaison Office, free Quidditch tickets or a box of his favourite crystallised pineapple.

Slughorn’s personality, in many ways, contradicted the “evil Slytherin” stereotype held by many students of the other Houses, Gryffindors in particular. He wasn’t a bad person, and didn’t seem to hold any real prejudice against Muggle-born witches and wizards.

Despite his ambition, Slughorn knew where to draw his personal boundaries. His tendency to ally himself with powerful, talented, and important people never blinded him to his moral values, and thus, he was never tempted to join forces with Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters.

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How does Slughorn inspire me?

I identify myself as primarily a Slytherin, and Slughorn represents the kind of Slytherin I feel I am. Slytherns are ambitious, passionate, and at the end of the day make great managers because they are resourceful to the end. Slughorn is all of those, plus he’s an incredible networker. He knows how to make connections, and further connect the people around him. This is something I strive for regularly. My most common example is directing people to my friend Bridget’s blog.

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Slughorn is very laid back. He is also a forgiving man, one who is always collecting things, and always learning. Ravenclaws learn for the sake of learning, but Slytherins will learn something so they can use it to forward their own ambitions, which is exactly what Slughorn does and what I do. Slughorn collects his fans much like how I try to collect twitter/tumblr followers.

Both of these men are professors at Hogwarts School. They have developed their craft well enough to teach it to others. I see myself doing that over the course of my life – perfecting my own skills and then eventually passing them on to people I mentor later in life.

Thank you, Remus Lupin and Horace Slughorn for being inspirations!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Inspirations: Latrice Royale

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Who is Latrice Royale?

Latrice’s Royale is a Drag Queen who was on the fourth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Latrice placed fourth in the show, but was the queen that nabbed my attention during that season. Latrice has been in the industry for over two decades, and knows her craft well. Latrice has faced many challenges over the course of her life off the show, including hitting rock bottom an being in prison while her mother passed away, which she admitted to onscreen.

Latrice is known for several quotes that she has said on the show. My favorites include:

  • “Five G’s please : Good God Get A Grip Girl.”
  • “BITCH: Being In Total Control of Herself”
  • “She is large and in charge, chunky, yet funky. Bold and Beautiful.”
  • “No T no shade.”
  • “I want people to realize, that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to fall down. Get up, look sickening, and Make Them Eat It!”
  • “Jesus is a biscuit! Let him sop you up!”

Latrice was invited back to the show to compete in All Stars, after earning the title of “Miss Congeniality” for season four. During All Stars, Latrice was paired with Manilla Luzon.

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What about Latrice inspires me?

Latrice has taught me several things over the course of my being a fan. First and foremost (as the above GIF hints), Latrice has taught me how to handle my body image.

Latrice never showed anger at herself for being a larger person. Latrice never complained about her weight, never shot herself down (unlike some other bigger contestants), and was thought of as “the big girl who got the farthest.” I’ve used the line, “large and in charge, chunky yet funky” to describe myself when I’m feeling down.

Latrice knows how to model dresses and gowns on her size, and showcased this on the runway on several occasions. Each time, it was more about being proud of her looks rather than trying to cover them up. Slowly but surely, I’ve been trying to think of myself the same way. Dress to enhance, not to cover up. Latrice is living proof of the famous RuPaul quote, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love anyone else?”

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Another big quote that Latrice lived and breathed is “I want people to realize, that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to fall down. Get up, look sickening, and Make Them Eat It!”

Latrice hit rock bottom a few years before she went on TV. I was in a similar place back in 2010-2011. Latrice picked herself back up, her community had a fundraiser to get her back on her feet and then Drag Race rocketed her back into the limelight and to a much better place.

When I hit my rock bottom, I started the first job that stabilized my life. From there I started growing as a person again, and got back on my own feet. Once I was back up, I grew the strength to pick up my things and move across the country and start a new life in Vermont. Now I’m in a better place and on track to go back and finish college, which I’ve long considered one of my biggest mistakes.

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In watching Latrice love herself, I have come to start accepting myself for the way I look. I’ve considered my weight to be another biggest life mistake, but I’m starting to turn that around and look at it as an asset. What helps is seeing the gay men’s community starting to appreciate guys with a little extra as well, instead of constantly talking about men who look like they walked out of a fitness magazine. Here and here are two articles that really gave me a good psychological boost recently.

As I re-watch season four of Drag Race (and All Stars), I continue to use Latrice as my source for liking myself more and more.

Thanks Latrice, for being an inspiration!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Inspirations: Kai Hiwatari

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Who is Kai Hiwatari?

Kai Hiwatari is one of the four central characters on the original three seasons of the TV anime, Beyblade. Kai started out as the villain of the series, as the leader of a gang called the Blade Sharks. He is defeated by Tyson early on and goes on to lead the central character team, The Bladebreakers.

As a child, Kai was born and raised in a Russian Abbey, where his grandfather trained him as a foot solider in his plan for world domination. Kai was never shown affection or love as a kid, and he comes off as aloof and cold to most people who meet him. Kai uses the Dranzer Beyblade, possessed by the spirit of a phoenix based on the real-life Kyoto legend of Suzaku.

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How did I discover Kai?

I was a huge fan of the show while I was in high school and my early years at Parkside. My interest in Kai and everything about him bordered on idolization. Kai doesn’t speak much over the course of the series, but what little he does say I used as my mantras in life and how I saw the world.

How does Kai inspire me?

Kai goes through quite a bit of evolution over the course of the three seasons. As I saw him evolve into a better person on TV, I tried to emulate that and grow for myself. Kai eventually confronts his past and deals with his inner demons. While I didn’t have any inner demons to confront, I still used Kai’s struggle and his quest for strength and growth to fuel my own desire to “grow up.”

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Kai is shown on the series to be a loner and an introvert. Kai spends as much time as possible on his own, practicing his skills and making himself stronger. Since I was idolizing Kai during the most crucial time in my own development, I picked up habits that I saw Kai doing on TV. It’s because of Kai that I identify myself as a loner/introvert, and my mind has shaped itself to function that way.

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Kai is one of the most popular characters on the original series of Beyblade, and much of the public interest in him stems from his “cool” factor. Kai looks the most appealing of the characters, his few sayings are particularly witty, and he gives off the vibe that he can never lose, which everyone wishes they could say.

I’ve also found myself drawn to the Beyblade gear that Kai uses over the series as well. Back in those days, I would get incredibly excited whenever the next incarnation of Kai’s Dranzer would appear in stores. To a minor extent, it’s a hat-tip to my Power Ranger days when I’d get super excited about the next Megazord appearing in stores.

The two incarnations of Dranzer that I loved most of all were Dranzer V2 and Dranzer G, both of which appeared in 2004. This interest in “the latest gear” has translated over to my interest in technology. Getting the iPhone 6 this year was like getting Dranzer V2/G all over again.

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When I went to Parkside, I made a pact with myself to grow beyond what Kai had taught me. Over the past several years, I’ve found new people and characters to look up to and model myself after, but Kai was one of the first. There are parts of him that I still look up to, and identify with, and I’ll probably have that forever.

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Thanks Kai, for being an inspiration!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Inspirations: Don & Charlie Epps

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Who is Charlie Epps?

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Charlie Epps is a fictional math professor at CalSci, and a consultant for the FBI on the TV series, Numb3rs. He is portrayed by actor David Krumholtz. Charlie is the younger brother of Don Epps. As a mathematical genius, Charlie is able to pull out equations and mathematical theories about any of the crimes that come up throughout the series. Charlie is known on the show for CharlieVision, which is when the camera goes to a cutscene or vision in Charlie’s head with the equations related to the investigated crimes flying in the air around the images in Charlie’s head. Charlie is very logical and scientific, and is highly skeptical of pseudosciences such as psychic ability and UFOs.

During the course of the show, Charlie develops a relationship with his student, Amita. Their relationship is very intellectual and starts off very un-romantic, since it’s hinted that Charlie has little dating experience.

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How did I discover Charlie Epps?

I first discovered Charlie Epps during my junior year of high school as the series Numb3rs was starting to air. My pre-calculus teacher showcased a few episodes as part of her class, and I fell in love with the show instantly. I was actually a pretty weak student during my middle and high school years, and Charlie was the first spark to lead my interest in not only math and science, but learning and education in general.

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Charlie is a master of his craft (mathematics), which is part of the core of his inspiration to me. Charlie is an example of someone who has dedicated their life to their strengths and their passions.

Who is Don Epps?

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Don Epps is the older brother of Charlie. He is portrayed by actor Rob Morrow. Don runs the FBI Violent Crimes Squad in Los Angeles. Don manages the investigative team, and leads them into various confrontations with the violent criminals they track and expose. Don sees his career as his way of life, and makes great personal sacrifices for his job, often at the cost of his social life.

Don is one of two characters that started my interest in criminal justice. Don, much like Charlie is incredibly dedicated to his craft, and it shows in his leadership. He can take command of a dangerous situation, but is also a great mentor to many of the people on his team, particularly David Sinclair and to a lesser extent, Megan Reeves.

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How does Don inspire me?

Don is one of the few people who has taught me what I define as masculinity. Don starts as a less emotional (though not necessarily “cold towards others”) of a character, and gives off an air of strength and power wherever he goes. There is plenty of physical strength references with Don, but not without showing his own intellect. Don understands emotions and feelings of others, and cares about them, particularly his family and his FBI Team. Don is the clearest example of what I define as a leader, which is a quality that I have plenty of room to improve on.

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To a lesser extent, Charlie also shows masculinity to me, but in a more academic and educational fashion. A hybrid of these two fictional brothers would display many of the points on my ideal man, and on a subconscious level, both of these characters were probably some of the base for that list.

Thank you Charlie & Don, for being inspirations!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie