After graduating from Salem State College in 1988, for several years I taught in special education. I worked with behavior disordered children. My major in psychology and primary focus on Skinnerian psychology was perfect fodder for such a career.
In college, my mentor was Dr. Margaret Vaughan who to this day I still think about and in my work use the principles she taught me. I was (still am to an extent) a big time behaviorist. In fact, when I graduated I had the words "Skinner", for the famous psychologist B.F. Skinner in masking tape on my cap. I was a total behaviorist through and through. You couldn't talk a lick of Freud or anything about "feelings" to me; I didn't believe it. I stubbornly believed that all actions were based upon reinforcement.
So in the fall of 1988, I took a cut in pay (during college I had worked up a nice little income as a bill collector for Sears) and took a paraprofessional position with the North Shore Educational Consortium out of West Peabody.
At NSEC I worked with some really phenomenal, giving individuals. They really made an impact on me. In fact, once in awhile I'll have a dream that I go back into the classroom to work with Rich and Kathy; of course they welcome me back with open arms.
NSEC was a very loving, caring and supportive environment not only for the children but for the staff. At the time my family was going through significant troubles with my mother's depression. She was in and out of the hospital for what was sometimes months at a time. The only thing that would literally "jolt" her out were ECT (electroshock therapy) sessions. It really took a toll on me emotionally and physically. But I could always count on the encouragement and support of my work colleagues to persevere and actually move forward -- even to follow my dreams.
Having been use to a packed schedule in college and now working just school hours, I wasn't used to having so much time on my hands. I started to pursue acting and singing as a hobby. I began taking voice lessons and realized that I was actually quite good. I got the lead role of Jesus in a community production of "Godspell" and my life soon began to take a different direction. Theatre! Gay people! What a world!
I loved performing. I began taking more courses. I took some rigorous classes at The Actor's Workshop in Boston where I received great accolades and even began working with a couple of talent agencies in town. Being that I got a late start in the field, I felt like I needed more training so I applied to NYU's Educational Theatre program and was delighted to be accepted into their MA/Ph.D. program.
After years of teaching and living at home, at 25 years old, in the summer of 1992, I moved to the East Village. Take about immersion into gay life...
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