My name is Elicia Gonzales and I am originally from Colorado. When people ask me where, I usually say Denver, ‘cause that’s what people know. But I technically grew up in Broomfield. It actually wasn’t until moving from Broomfield, Colorado to Denver into a more urban environment that I first discovered Prince in his entirety.
I just remember seeing him and being completely fascinated and in awe of this person that was born to me that day, Prince. And so the music married with this person who, he says in his song, “I’m not a man, I’m not a woman, I’m something you’ll never understand.”
So, cut to me the next year. We moved from Broomfield and I started to explore Prince more, and I insist that my room has to be purple. My mom was a little bit confused as to why I was so excited about this purple situation. She forced me to have it a little more of a calm purple because of needing to sell the house maybe at some point. So we settled on “grape float” but everything was purple, like everything was purple in my room. So that was my experience early on of Prince, and I think it was very much so representative of what happened with my sexuality later in life.
So when I started to recognize that the girl that I thought was pretty, or the girl that I wanted to be like, was actually something more a sexual attraction, I didn’t know what to do with any of that.
So I pretty much denied my sexuality until later college years. And then it was this nagging sensation, if you will, that didn’t go away. This attraction to women, this idea about exploring my sexuality more deeply, if you will.
And so I moved to New York in 2001. I got out there in June, and I pretty much dove head-first into my sexuality.
And I remember one night, just really vividly, walking into Escualita and just falling in love. I literally felt like I could have fallen to the floor and kissed the ground, because there were just so many beautiful women there, of all different shades and shapes and sizes and butch and fem and whatever. And, of course, drag performers and things like that. But I’d never seen anything like that in Colorado. I felt like, “Oh my god, there’s this whole other world that I have to explore,” that I have no idea what is about to happen.
But I kept kind of exploring this sexuality path, and I think – for me – queerness and sexuality go hand-in-hand.
Prince was a very outspoken, and continues to be this outspoken figure. Very blatantly sexual. Early on anyway, a lot of his lyrics had to do with sex and sexuality in a way that was very unapologetic. And I think that that is who I am as a person, and also who we try to be as an agency, which is unapologetically queer. Unapologetically sex positive.
And so, working at GALAEI, I think I’ve done that, and one of the ways that we’ve tried to do that was by creating these videos that were called “Pleasure Rush.” Well, the project is called “Pleasure Rush” and “Pleasure Rush” produced these videos that were basically examples of different ways that you can express your sexuality without talking about condoms.
So for lack of a better word, it was basically soft porn. Soft only in the sense there was no penetration, but for all other purposes, it looked like it was these two guys having sex.
So, we put out these videos. By and large, they were well-received.
And I feel really proud of the fact that the roots of having this love and passion for Prince directly ties into the work that we do at GALAEI right now and absolutely into who I am as a person. And I feel very privileged to do that. I know that not very many people have different parts of their lives aligned in that way. But I feel aligned.
I think for me growing up, I’m a prime example of I didn’t see other girls who looked like me, who talked like me, who thought like me where I was from.
So I want to be able to let others know that there’s all kinds of us. All kinds of queer people, and some of us actually have good stories. It’s not all devastation, doom and gloom, like, “I got kicked out of my family’s house,” you know? I’ve had really fortunate luck with family, with friends, career. And I feel fortunate that I get to be my whole self, every single day.