How do you decide on who to follow? How do you decide who to give some of your time to, every day? What is it that actually matters, in the end, when making connections to or with other human beings?
This is my list of my Top 3 best personal influences online and off. Some have been in my life for a very long time, others are more recent. But they all have a great influence on me, and I have written a couple of paragraphs about each one below.
~ Katie Abey ~
I’ve followed Katie for a long time now, I mainly see her posts on Facebook but I follow her on Instagram and TikTok too. I have bought my share of her products, even, and some of them are strategically placed around my bedroom so I’ll see them both when I wake up and when I’m sitting on my bed with my laptop at night, when I can’t sleep.
Katie’s illustrations are fantastic, and so many of the daily ones are mood boosters supreme! Katie creates art that lets you be yourself, lets you forgive yourself and lets you live in this world as the person you are. So of course I love her! I always feel better after coming across one of her daily drawings on Facebook, and she almost always has something uplifting to say in the caption too. It also helps to know she’s very accepting in her personal life – she shares some of it on social media and it gives me hope for the world. Check her out at the links below.
~ Jujubee ~
Jujubee is a drag queen who appeared on the show RuPaul’s Drag Race, which is how I found out about her. She is so much more than just what you see on the show too – she’s an excellent singer and songwriter, she’s a fantastic performer (although I’ve not yet had a chance to see her live), and she’s an all around great human being. The man behind the drag queen is the same age as me, which tickles me in all kinds of ways because I’m looking at Jujubee and imagining myself in her place. It’s a connection – a tenuous one, of course, but a connection nevertheless – and life is all about making connections, small and big, with other humans.
The first time I heard her sing (apart from on the show she took part in) I was very impressed and totally in love. She has such an amazing soulful voice, full of emotion, talent, and probably a lot of training too. The songwriting is another connection I find with her (I do write both music and lyrics, although it’s not very well known anymore), and that’s a powerful one. Jujubee reminds me to be myself, to know my heritage – she’s mentioned her own Laotian heritage as a big part of who she is – and where I come from, and she has made me think a whole lot about my family. I love her, and at this point I don’t think she could say anything that would make me dislike her. She’s amazing.
~ Darren Hayes ~
So this is a very near and dear, yet distant and famous, person to me. When I was 12 years old I first heard ‘To the Moon & Back’ by Savage Garden while in a clothes shop with my Mum, Aunt and cousins. My Mum bought me a top that I still have, even though it’s way too small for me now. The music playing over the speakers was magical to me. I had never heard this song before but it instantly became my favourite song ever. And it still is! The singer, that voice, all that emotion, that was Darren Hayes. For my 13th birthday I wrote a wish list (I was a cheeky kid!) and Savage Garden’s self titled debut album was first on it. I remember the very moment – my Aunt and Uncle came to our house for cake and everything, and they gave me a wrapped CD. I ripped the paper off and it was the Savage Garden album! Best gift ever.
So you can see that this goes deep. Deep into my life, deep into my background, and deep into my very soul. Savage Garden and Darren Hayes as a solo artist have been some of the biggest influences on my own music, lyrics and poetry. I lost contact with pop culture for a fair few years after moving over here to the UK, but when Facebook became well established and ‘everyone’ was on there, I looked up his Page. And found that he’s (still) an amazing human being. He speaks of love and acceptance, and practises the same. He is such a huge influence on every aspect of me. He reminds me to stand tall as the queer person I am. He reminds me to keep doing music. He reminds me to be proud of exactly who I am, and not try to be anyone else. I love him, with all my heart, in a way that can only happen after decades of deep connections, even if only one-sided the way things happen with well known and famous people.
~ Pixie ~
So I said 3 and I had fully intended to do 3, but then I realised there was one person I hadn’t listed and that’s the person who has the most immediate and most important influence on me in my everyday life right now.
Pixie is a resin artist, among (many) other things. They’re super creative, super talented, and I am super lucky to be able to call them my flatmate and friend! Pixie is part of the queer community, same as myself, and a lot of their resin pieces are influenced by this. Pixie uses all kinds of Pride flag colours to theme their pieces to the recipient, and the amount of choice in their shop leaves me wide-eyed, as someone working with more restrictive materials. I am eternally in awe of their makes and I own probably around 30 pieces made by them in total.
More than anything, Pixie is one of the best friends I’ve had in my life, and I want to honour that by including them in this list. They tell me to eat and drink water and sleep a reasonable amount of hours and other such mundane things that can easily slip by the wayside in the neurodivergent mind. And, oh yeah, they’re a great singer and songwriter and generally has a lot of music experience, which is, y’know, plain awesome.
I love Pixie because they’re exactly what a human being should be: kind, caring, loving, yet complex, deep, and sometimes mildly unpredictable (keeps me on my toes! ). Pixie helps me stand up when I fall down. They tell me I have worth and that I mean something to people. They tell me that I am worthy of love. And those are the most important things to remember, always.
In the end, I love all of the above people for the same reasons. They are human, and they share their humanity and vulnerability as well as their victories. I’ve found a connection with them, something that means something to me. And they help me keep going. That is perhaps the most important thing of all. We all need someone to look up to, and to remind us to keep going, to be proud of who we are and to be yourself.
Remember always: Be Proud. Be You.