Commentary: A Year to Remember

Serious About My Work
Self photo by Randy Stern – and, no, the car was not moving while the photo was taken.

This has been the most rewarding 12 months ever in my life.

It is not a common line of work. When I encounter people for the first time and get asked what I do, I tell them that I am an automotive journalist. I normally get three different reactions to that response.

One: They think I live a glamorous life of traveling across the country to auto shows, press junkets, driving expensive vehicles, hobnobbing with execs and grazing on plenty of free food.

Two: They think I'm a bullshitter that is trying to better myself for what I'm supposed to do.

Three: They pat me on the back and say – "that's nice." (Or, not say anything at all – that's what Minnesota Nice is all about, isn't it?)

Regardless of the reaction, it is what I do now.

A year has gone by since everything changed in my writing career. A year where I saw a transition in the direction of this website, the growth in the presence of this work and the expansion of experiences that feed this art.

The conclusion of my graduate studies at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota spurned me into this new direction. This was the transition point. I drove the first vehicle supplied as a member of the automotive media while pontificating the rationale for developing and cultivating audiences of all cultures towards diverse offerings in the performing arts. Little did I know how much that luxurious retractable roof coupe/convertible would catapult me away from working in an arts organization as a way of life.

This journey fulfilled many dreams. It continues to do so, even this stage in my life.

Why did this change occur originally? Though chronicled here and elsewhere, a series of situation regarding my writing within the context of my own identity paved the way to get to this point. It came to a point where I observed that there was no way I was going to be the gay voice of Major League Baseball's Blogosphere. Not with the feeling that I would not be welcomed with open arms by the majority of fans. Nor would I feel comfortable stomaching decisions based on greed and television contracts that would create a gulf for me to enjoy the game my mother passed down as her "heirloom."

The passion for the automobile has always been a constant for me – since age five. It is a place where I can be out and proud feeding my passion. When I decided to go "all in" on my automotive writing – it was indeed the right thing to do. Therefore, I took this site to the next level by rebranding it as Victory & Reseda.

If there was one thing that sealed the deal, it was my re-introduction to Lavender magazine. That alone threw open many doors to what I do today.

This was a ticket to a vast realm where I felt welcomed as not only a member of the LGBT media, but as a pontificator of all sorts of bucket of crazy in and around the automobile. I've been called an "influencer." Perhaps finding different ways to maximize my social media presence helped in that regard.

Today, I am blessed with the opportunity to openly discuss the automobile through the experiences presented to me by my colleagues on both sides of the industry. This is a responsibility I take seriously. I honor this privilege whenever I take a review subject on the road or when I attend events ranging from media days at an auto show to a local meeting of an organization.

The reality of what I do in this realm requires a lot of hard work. In my case, I wear many hats to accomplish this job. This writer tries to promote the work on this site and in Lavender magazine through various social media outlets as possible. Having a good camera helps to frame appropriate images for each piece. A good researcher keeps up with the facts on the vehicle to put them to the test on the road.

The driving aspect may seem fun for anyone outside of the automotive journalism business. It can be, but it also takes a lot of effort to calculate every sound and movement inside the vehicle.

Perhaps more challenging is the actual writing on the subject. It takes time to sort out the data, the impressions and arrive at a conclusion that comprehensible to the readers. This has been my challenge understanding two different readerships – Lavender's and V&R's. This is why you will see both similarities and differences when you see the same subject in both outlets.

Still, this job has been both rewarding and demanding. For example, this past month yielded a dream for most automotive writers to accomplish. To have two vehicles at my disposal for the purpose of reviewing them in two outlets is a good problem to have. Yet, I am one who believes in giving the right amount of attention to one subject. This is why I was glad to be down to one vehicle to evaluate as of last Wednesday afternoon.

To those who believe that my work as an automotive journalist and writer is a complete waste of some people’s energy and attention, let me make this clear: What I do is absolutely sustainable. Not just because of the pool of enthusiasts eager to know my thoughts on a particular vehicle or the LGBT readership wanting to know how I balance this industry with my identity. It is because of the passion I have for the subject – dating back to age five.

In 2009, I dealt with being laid off from a job that was both challenging and rewarding. My position was a victim of the result of the recent global financial crisis and subsequent recession. At that time, I had to figure out a strategy to get through this down period of my life.

One thing that had been discussed was the notion of reinventing one's self. The idea is to embrace the strengths of what I do creatively – especially when I was attending graduate school for managing arts and cultural entities. One theme became clear that creativity could ride through even the toughest of economic situations.

This notion is absolutely true.

It has been a year to remember. Let’s kick off year two, shall we?

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