Antonio • Dancer & RTD Bus Driver
Antonio is a dancer, teacher, actor, model, and hustler who moved to Denver from Cleveland, Ohio three years ago to dance with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. Today, he teaches at the Denver School of the Arts, hosts weekly jazz-funk and heels classes at Millennium Dance Complex, and performs as a background dancer for artists. He most recently appeared in Todrick Hall’s new video WIG.
His time in Denver has seen highs and lows. The highs, falling in love, and the lows, losing that love while being so far away from his family. Next time you’re riding the 3, 48, or 12, say hello to Antonio since this dance veteran is also an RTD bus driver. Here’s what it means to be Antonio in Denver.
What does it mean to be Antonio?
I am a strong black man who identifies as gay. To be me is to be able to wear my heart on my sleeve and not worry about someone taking advantage of me. It is to be masculine one day and feminine the next day, then in between at the same moment. To be me, means not second-guessing myself. To be happy. To be joyful all the time. I may be shady from time to time, but it’s tough love. That’s what it means to be me.
What does it mean to you to be black in Denver?
At home, if you are a part of the LGBTQ community, you are supported, but it’s at a distance. Here, you throw a pen, and you might hit a gay person. So to me, to be black in Denver means to be free. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not this way all the time, but the culture is different here. To be black in Denver also means to be overlooked. I’ve had my own people disregard me in crowds because I am too black for them, but I call it being real. To be black in Denver is to keep your head on tight and focused on who you are and who you want to be without approval or accolades from others.
What do you love most about living in Denver?
The close group of friends I’ve made.
How have your experiences in Denver shaped you?
It’s made me strong enough to stand alone and be able to move in silence.