After The Road Ahead Summit, and in honor of National Coming Out Day, we sat down with rule-breaking panelist Amy Virginia Buchanan to talk about the future of culture and experiential design.
What does it mean to you be an out and proud creative in the culture, music and lifestyle industry?
There still aren't a ton of bisexuals who are proudly and loudly out, which is so surprising when you consider the fluidity of gender and sexual attraction. That's a big reason why I am so aggressively queer, why I like to talk about it and why it is reflected in the work I do and what I put out in the world. It would be easy to keep it to myself, but I've found that it's actually easier to be out and honest with myself than living some straight lie. Fortunately culture, music, and lifestyle are industries that are more inclined to embrace and celebrate my queerness than, say, other industries that are less about self-expression. I'm feel very lucky.
At what point in your life did you recognize your identity as LGBTQ was an advantage for you in your career and industry?
My own acceptance of my queerness gives me so much confidence in myself, which alone is a massive advantage in my career and industry. Sheer confidence and bravery has done so much for me. But I suppose I saw a big shift in my successes around the same time as when I came out, simply because I started to allow myself to behave more powerfully. I was raised to be submissive and people pleasing, as most midwestern women are, but embracing my bisexuality and recognizing my own male/female behavioral balance, made me more domineering in meetings, more forthright with my ideas, more capable of receiving criticism, and better at standing up to bullies. I am still occasionally the only woman and/or queer on a conference call or in a meeting, and until that shifts, I am choosing to consider that a position of power because of the unique perspective that I offer.
If you could name three key elements as the sources of your inspiration to help drive you forward, what would they be?
First, my parents, because while they have often not approved of many elements of my lifestyle, they have continued to support me as well as shift and grow with me as I have become more comfortable with myself. Second, Young people. I know that millennial and gen z'ers get a lot of criticism, but honestly I've never been more confident in the future. Those two generations live so boldly and generously, they are adventuresome, optimistic, accepting, altruistic, politically engaged, and curious. Very inspirational. And finally, weirdly, my cat. She makes me cry almost every single day because she is small and she loves me and she needs me to survive, which gives me a sense of place in the world and makes things feel achievable that would otherwise feel impossible.
Why do you think forging your own path is so important?
Some people need to. Some people don't. It's really not for everyone, but if you're someone who needs to be creating something of your own, then you should do it. I'm so much happier when I am, that's for sure.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? What do you hope to be changing about the world?
Published author, recording a new album, changing the game in experience design and the facilitation of human connection, a mom. Hopefully doing those things will add to how I change the world. A specific mission I'm on, though, is to encourage more and more people who are keeping their bisexuality to themselves to come out. It'll be a lot harder to erase us if there are more of us.
What advice would you give to someone looking to make a name for themselves in music, culture and lifestyle?
Just keep making things and being as present as you can in your own life. You can try so hard and no one will notice, but that's okay because maybe it's just not your time. You can't force an audience to look at you, online or in person, but you can force yourself to get to work and make beautiful things come to life. If you do, people will eventually catch on.