Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘I had a fantastic support system in my family when I came out, but any young gay person will feel othered at some point.’

Hauppauge

“I was a child actor in local theater, and what I loved most about it was being in rooms of like-minded weirdoes who felt like they didn’t fit in. Everyone was able to come together and enjoy telling stories. I certainly felt “othered” as a gay kid on Long Island. I had a fantastic support system in my family when I came out, but any young gay person will feel “othered” at some point.

“I grew up in a Roman Catholic household. I had to recontextualize my relationship with the church because I grew up closeted and afraid of what that might mean for my faith; I’ve come to a place where I have a relationship with my spirituality that I am proud of. My parents are artistic, so they understood that I had a sense of passion and that I always knew what I wanted to do.

“I got the start of my career as a composer, lyricist and playwright with “Balloon Boy the Musical,” for which I wrote the first draft when I was in seventh grade. I would write shows in spiral bound notebooks in math class. The show was loosely based on the 2009 scandal where a Colorado father said his son was stuck in a homemade weather balloon. That show premiered at the NY Musical Theatre Festival when I was in the incredible theater program at Hauppauge High School.

The beauty of theater is that it’s the act of empathy at its core. Those are the type of stories I like to tell.

“I’ve also been lucky enough to write the score for Off-Broadway’s “A Musical About Star Wars.” I recently put out a concept album called “Little Black Book,” which is a rock musical loosely based on the life of the former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss. I’m fascinated with telling stories that three-dimensionalize humans whom the tabloids have two-dimensionalized; I treat them with empathy in a surprising way.

“The beauty of theater is that it’s the act of empathy at its core. Those are the type of stories I like to tell. I grew up watching videos of musical theater writers performing songs at 54 Below, like Pasek and Paul, Joe Iconis, Adam Gwon- people who are my age now, and were premiering weird songs that were unlike anything I’d ever heard on a stage. I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do!’ There’s something really special in that I am playing in the same venues as them. I miss the innate intimacy of theater and can’t wait until I can get back to it.”