Pride: People’s District: Annie aka dj vANNIETY Kills on Creating a Diverse Dance Floor
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“I like to say that I am nerd by day and a DJ by night. After finishing my doctorate in Baltimore, I moved to D.C. to run a clinic at one of the local hospitals. At work, I do a lot of education for my patients to help them understand how to make medications work best for them. Sometimes that includes adjusting people’s lifestyle or changing dosage based on how many medications a patient may be taking. I love my job because you can really improve somebody’s quality of life through education.
“I have always felt like music has a way of impacting people, too. Growing up as a rebellious, skateboarding tomboy in Richmond, Virginia, I thought about being a DJ because I love music. When I moved to D.C., I decided to pursue that love. I came here in 2005 and the city welcomed me with open arms, but it was very different from Richmond. There, the gay scene was so small and integrated. Everyone knew each other and hung out together. I initially didn’t findthat here and wanted more diversity in the scene.
“I naively thought that because we were all gay, everyone would get along and hang out together. I saw that many people hung out in their own crowds, or cliques. One of the reasons that I actually went out and bought the equipment was to see if I could use DJing and different styles of music and parties to integrate people in this city. I had my first party at Jimmy Valentine’s in September 2009 and things have been on the up-and-up since then. Now, I play all over town and like to use my parties as an opportunity to draw a diverse group of gay and straight, men and women, and people of all kinds and colors.
“To me, the diversity is so important because I grew up in a very traditional Vietnamese home. I had a long progression into my sexuality and it was such a struggle for me. My parents used to tell me that there was no such thing as a gay lifestyle in Vietnam. Until I finished grad school, I still wanted the traditional idea of finding a husband and starting a family. But, something was missing there. I could not quite pin point it, but deep down inside I knew I was a lesbian. I came out to my parents at 30. It was tough. My mother cried.
“Now, after a few years, we are in a good place and they know that it is not a choice, but a lifestyle. We talk about everything, including my relationships. My parents are really supportive, even if every once in a while their relationship advice after a breakup is to say, ‘Well, maybe you should try guys again.’ I can’t blame them, they are trying their best. These days, though, it has become an ongoing joke that we laugh at when brought up…now seldom. Nowadays, they only want me to be happy.”
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