The Missing Years Project by Benjamin Gallagher

The Missing Years Project is a multimedia storytelling experience that uplifts the imagination and lived experiences of people of color during the ongoing pandemic. The Missing Year Project is founded and produced by Brooklyn-based Cellist & Arts Administrator Sarah Overton. Click here to listen to the latest episode. Thank you both for featuring my voice on your platform. I’m honored to share my thoughts about how art can change someone’s perspective on life.

In March 2021, Sarah contacted me in regards to the interview. She wanted to know how the pandemic affected the course of my dreams. Her curiosity flattered me. Until then, people only regarded me as a server, a barista, or an aspiring writer. Her question inspired me to address the question as a writer, someone with intellectual ideas about life.

In 2019, I wanted to know more about people. I wanted to understand how we interacted with one another at places like the Orlando Museum of Art while powering through a yoga pose, or flirting in a subway car, to a block party in Rio De Janeiro, and shopping for antiques in Miami Beach. They inspired me to learn more about my perspective on life and how I valued their company.

“Yes,” I said to Sarah, agreeing to the interview.  “Describe to me your perfect morning,” she responded. The proposition inspired a conversation about the concept of identity. As a thirty-one-year-old queer Latino, my perspective derived its strength on the act of preservation. I protected myself from other people’s judgment. I didn’t want to be seen as weak or insecure. Yet, those ideas only haunted me.

“What I think is important though is that there’s evidence of those emotions, your creativity,” I continued. During the past year, I wrote a lot of rough drafts and made crappy art. Writing allowed me to express those monstrous ideas of identity. Those pieces gave me the confidence to confront my ego. I knew that my opinion of self could change if I allowed myself to be vulnerable with other people.

Because, if my opinion of self could change then so would my perspective of the world. The fear of being misunderstood by strangers and people within the Queer community could change if I opened myself to other people’s opinions. In that respect, my art mattered. My crappy half-finished sentences, misused vowels, and blog posts could change someone’s perspective about me, and therefore of someone else.

“I know that I’m not the only person who experiences these emotions this way, and that inspires me to keep living,” I said, referring to emotions like gratitude and insecurity. The ways in which people chose to speak to me about those emotions could change if I could learn to be open with my art.

Thank you, the Missing Years Project for the opportunity to both express and record these thoughts. I am grateful for the opportunity to express myself as a writer. I am proud to be on this podcast as a Queer person of color. Subscribe to my blog to stay updated on interviews and posts. Thank you again, Sarah Overton and photographer Enrique Wiedemann for providing the opportunity to express me.

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Benjamin P. Gallagher

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