OA: Where are you originally from and what brought you here?
CG: I was born and raised in Nashville, TN, and consider my second home Atlanta, GA. I moved around searching for a place where I could be expressive to find myself in a way that wouldn’t hurt my family being that I was a preacher’s kid and didn’t know much about my identity according to the standard systems presented in my childhood and upbringing. That’s why Atlanta became my second place I consider home. Fast forward to 2014 and I relocated to Rochester, NY, to pursue an opportunity to work and serve at The MOCHA Center and attend the Master’s in Divinity Program at Colgate.
OA: What kind of work do you do at MOCHA?
CG: I serve LGBTQ communities and specifically communities of color as the supervisor of The MOCHA Center Rochester which is a part of the Trillium Health family. Working with a team of people who give direct services and connection to a wide range of services such as HIV testing, STI screenings, access to PrEP/PEP, 1:1 sessions for reaching goals, along with our events that range from movie/game night, club mocha, Real talk and more. We are striving to make a place for LGBTQ communities of color that is uplifting and supportive to village needs.
OA: What else do you do to serve community?
CG: I sit on the board of Rochester Black Pride and serve on the committee for the United Way Pride Leadership Development Program. I am a student at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School making my way to finish my Masters in Kairos Studies. While also serving as an ordained minister providing supportive services to all. I also am a male performer who goes by the name of Nigel LeStat. I do male lip sync, drama, plays and consider performing arts a hobby that feeds a part of my soul as a way to give back to the community through my gifts and talents. I am the current reigning Mr. Diamond Strength 2018-2019 and former Mr. Victory Alliance 2017-2018 and Mr. Hott International 2017-2018.
OA: What’s a quote you live by?
CG: My Quotes are more affirmations that I strive to continue to live by and if achieved it I must move forward to a new quote. There are two quotes that work hand in hand by two people I respect.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced” -James Baldwin
“The proof that one truly believes is in action.”- Bayard Rustin.
OA: Why is what you do important?
CG: Everything that I do is a part of my purpose in life. If I serve my purpose I can live out what is true and make a change in the world. While working in HIV prevention it is clear that serving my community to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic is something that is of importance by getting people connected to PrEP, Getting newly diagnosed or lost to care positive people into care, People who are HIV positive undetectable, and providing education to end stigma is all a reason why what I do is important.
OA: Something about you people don’t know?
CG: As I continue to learn about myself I have learned to understand my kinky/bdsm side. Many people cringe or quickly learn to judge one when they think of these terms. Whereas for me it’s all about a need for education before one judges (yes still fighting stigma/uninformed) for me I love fire and wax play and it is very therapeutic yet an exhilarating experience.
OA: Favorite Meal?
CG: So as far as food goes…I love seafood and creole food. New Orleans is a place that just makes me smile the moment I touch foot in one of their restaurants. I love a seafood pasta with shrimp, scallops, crab and fried alligator.
OA: Where will you be in 10 years?
CG: One thing that I have learned is that God has a way of taking what you may think you know and turning it all around. I would like to think that I will be still serving my community, married, with a family. However what I know for sure is God will at the end of the day have me where I am supposed to be. Staying focused and disciplined, on and in purpose is all it takes on my part.