This weekend we celebrate Pride here in New York. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how vital Pride is because I live just steps away from Stonewall, the epicenter of where the gay rights movement began. It’s not because I’m unaware of the persecution against LGBTQ+ folks—I’ve lived through my share of hardships because of my sexual identity. But amid the comings and goings of everyday life, it’s sometimes too easy to become comfortable.Read More
It’s high time I bring you an update about my work to support Cambodian Children’s Destiny. As you may recall, last year when my Angkor Wat project came out I launched a fundraiser to raise money for the NGO school. Between the online fundraiser and additional in-person donations, I was able to raise about $1,500. This was enough money to construct walls for two classrooms and still have some left over for other needed supplies!
I also donated several gently used laptops for use at the school. These machines were old and clunky by our standards… but a precious thing for these Cambodians. It took a lot of love (and muscle) to lug those all the way around the world. But airport security didn’t bat an eye. I was prepared for all sorts of, “Why are you traveling with so many laptops?” questions. Luckily, it was no problem!
To give you a better sense of everything I’m talking about, here are a few photos from my visit to the school this past October…
In my Angkor Wat book, I wrote in the “ancient hall” poem, “this is only the beginning.” When I wrote that line, I had no idea just how prophetic a statement it was. Not only did I end up writing the entire book and album as they exist now, but I also traveled back to Cambodia a second time to do so. And now I am here for the third time. This time it wasn’t my book that brought me here, but my charity work for Cambodian Children’s Destiny. Today I visited the school in person for the first time. I have to admit that I haven’t been able to put the experience into words just yet. It’s so hard to describe what life is like in Cambodia. You have to see it for yourself. And, even then, the more I see, the more I realize that I never really understood it at all. The truth is that I probably never will understand it. That’s how different things are here. What I can say with certainty, though, is that I–and all of you back home reading this–are incredibly privileged. I know it’s hard for you to see that sitting where you are. It was hard for me to see it too. But from where I’m at right now, it’s perfectly clear.
“This is only the beginning,” indeed. I don’t know where I’m headed. I don’t know what will come next. But I know the things I have experienced have changed me. I will never be able to look at life and the world the same way again. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
I decided I would make posts here to keep you in the loop in “real time” about my work in Cambodia. I just arrived in Siem Reap a few hours ago. After a more than 24 hour journey, I am, of course, beat. So at the moment I’m just relaxing for a bit and trying to adjust to the new time, new place, new… everything! But I’ve got to break through the jet lag so while I may have a brief nap, I have to make myself stay awake until a reasonable hour. You fellow travelers know what that’s like!
Independence Day stirs thoughts in me about the visual aesthetics of the United States and the role artists, architects, and designers play in constructing American visual identity. I’ve always been fascinated at how so much of American architectural style is based on Classical proportions.