Max Torres Maggio: the second in the series transformation of silence into action whether through speech, words, images or performance
Max Torres Maggio is a 17 year old gay Puerto Rican. I’ve known Max and his mum since I first arrived in the US in 2010. We were neighbors who soon became friends in the true sense of the word, warm, open, and giving. I asked Max when he first thought he might be gay. As he tells it, there was a discussion in his 5th grade class about homosexuality and he quickly realized they were speaking about him. “So I’m gay and I had to come to terms with that”. Max is fortunate in that he is surrounded by loving family and friends but still he has had to deal with being an outlier, being Hispanic and gay, in a white heteronormative institution where difference is shunned and bullied.
As my 18th birthday approaches, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed. The reality of an era of my life coming to an end both horrifies and excites me. I try my best to use my experiences to aid my growth, but often allow the cringe worthy memories to hinder my ability to think critically and progress as an individual.
My most intense sorrows rush to mind and I ponder on my losses, wins, fails, and falls; my father’s relationship with me and his death; my life as an openly gay Hispanic student in the United States; the friends that have come, gone, and grown with me, and other personal struggles I have had to face. In the end, I always do overcome every challenge thrown my way which leads to me thinking about the present and the future. I know that in less than 6 months my life will change entirely. I think about leaving the past behind, but later realize how unrealistic it is. My past is what makes me who I am and if I pretend it never existed, I would be hurting myself when the last thing I need is to experience more pain.
Pain is always a lesson of life. The more I reflect on it, the more I feel a connection with humanity and our planet. Every second of our life we are dying, the least I can do, is to live.
I am grateful for my beautiful friend Sokari Ekine for these photographs
Max Torres Maggio