In a galaxy of TikTok content creators who are creating everything from dance challenges to viral hacks, Chris Bautista is in a unique position. After a moment in a Los Angeles bar where he was on the receiving end of disrespect that many have felt, Bautista turned that moment into a revolution. Choosing to lead with kindness, Bautista is using his ever-growing online presence to usher in kindness for the gay community and make sure that the places we consider “safe spaces” are truly safe for everyone. We caught up recently to talk about how he is remaining “aggressively positive” at all times and showing a perspective within the LGBTQ community that seems to be in short supply at times; simple kindness.
Michael Cook: Your story about seeing RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13 winner Symone at a nightclub in Los Angeles truly has taken on a life of its own and started a movement of kindness. How does that feel?
David: I have been doing a lot of these TikTok’s for a while, and you never know what people are going to respond to when you throw something on TikTok. I like to share my perspective, I don’t necessarily think it is unique, but I do think that it is unrepresented in certain communities. I like to share my perspective whenever it feels relevant as much as it can.
MC: It’s unique in our communities, as the LGBTQ community can be problematic in nightlife atmosphere at times. It can be challenging to find people who lead with kindness in those atmospheres.
CB: I completely agree with that. Going through the comments on that video, I read a lot of them and sometimes it gets little overwhelming. It is interesting just seeing how many people out there can relate to what I am talking about and how many people stopped going out because they don’t like that environment. I understand and respect that, but at the same time that means all that is left in these queer spaces is the assholes because they are kicking the nice ones out. It is interesting because in my head and I think in a lot of people’s heads that relate to what I was saying, those people think that the queer community is a bunch of assholes. It is unfortunate that there isn’t a space that all of the people that are chased out of these queer spaces can step into, as opposed to being with these assholes (laughs).
MC: It is crucial for us to speak out on this topic, as it is almost an act of defiance against what so many people say our community “should” be. On the evening you went to see Symone, did what you went through put a damper on your evening?
CB: It did put a damper on my night. That person and their friend left eventually, but it was a little bit harder to enjoy after that happened. It’s belittling and I think the worst part about it is that at the bar that I was at, it was kind of like my last queer space where I didn’t feel that way. As far as queer spaces in Los Angeles, there is West Hollywood which is the touristy gay spot, and it is great for what it is. It attracts the younger “Adonis” type of queer community that heads out there. Then there are other queer spaces on the East Side or Los Angeles, like The Eagle and Akbar. The Eagle is great, it’s dirty, it’s kinky, it’s leathery, it’s funky, I never have a problem there. It’s sexually charged which is fine, but sometimes you’re not in the mood to step into that space. Precinct is a place that is a combination of everything and always felt like everyone was welcome. So it definitely hit a little bit harder because this space felt like it was my last space and I got treated the way that I was in all of the other queer spaces. It kind of stung, in a way that it usually doesn’t. It was like, where can I go where I can just be? I don’t understand why we do this to each other.
MC: Have you always been the type of person who chose kindness, even when you were younger?
CB: Yes and no; but as you get older you choose a direction. You either become jaded and hard or you become more empathetic, and I think as queer people we have that path and you choose one or the other, given how fucked up society can be towards us, As a kid I grew up very Christian and very religious; my family always had negative things to say about the queer community. I came out later in life, not until my late twenties. I was closeted for a long time because I was and am still very close to my family and I was afraid that I would lose my family if I came out of the closet and I spent years trying to pray the gay away.
In that space, I came to a rock bottom when I was flirting with the idea of suicide. It happened for a while and there was one specific night where I was the closest that I ever came. I came out of the dark space and realized that I needed to come out of the closet, chase my happiness and live for myself. In that time of being in that really dark place, I found empathy in a way that I dont think I would have felt if I hadn’t had that experience. Even though it is inate in me to look out for people, I dont think that I would have had that level of compassion and empathy had I not had that experience. I think that came when I was around twenty seven. There are parts of me that are aggressive, I’m a short man and with that, I was bullied as a kid. Not only for not being as masculine, but I was small. I’ve had to be physical in my life to deter people from treating me that way. When I am faced with that moment of someone treating me a certain way, those feelings of anger and resentment come flooding back. I have to manage it in the moment though, not to become physical, as it doesn’t serve any of us, its just ugliness.
MC: You are ushering in a new era of kindness for the LGBTQ community courtesy of your TikTok.
C: I think that it is interesting thinking in terms of ushering in an era of kindness. in the gay community. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to hear you say that. When I first started TikTok, there were a couple things that I wanted to address and represent. Being a homosexual man and coming out on the other side coming from a dark and suicidal space caused from Christianity, that is one thing that I wanted to represent. Not looking back on Christianity with resentment, but appreciating that I was able to pull some of the good and grow from it and away from it. As I stepped further into the queer community and realized that it is not a space where everyone is happy and accepting and how wrong I was to assume that. It can be hard to not become jaded and become equally as much of an asshole to combat that.
I witness all the time the people that feel rejected by their own community so they become just as much of an asshole and then all of a sudden, you just have this community of people who just all have their walls up. and you can’t penetrate it. They are afraid that if they should who they actually are it is going to be seen as weakness, they are going to be attacked, it is fucking ugly and toxic. I just refuse and I call myself aggressively positive. I am not a pushover, I am just aggressively positive. I am very confident in being that. I refuse to stop going to these queer spaces, I refuse to conform to thinking that I have to be a dick in order to survive. I am just going to be nice and if people are going to be an asshole to me, that is on them and I am going to do my best to expose their asshole-ism to them and try to move on and not let it bother me, even though sometimes it does.
MC: You also run The Beignet Truck. how often are you finding that you are getting recognized?
CB: I don’t do a lot of public events, but it does happen occasionally. I do private events, movie sets and things like that. People will sometimes come to the truck and ask if I am on there, I have a team so I’m not on the truck all the time.It’s funny, I have a humble following on TikTok and its flattering and encouraging for me to keep doing what I am doing. Going out in queer spaces nowadays, a handful of people will come up to me and give me a hug. They feel like they know me and I welcome it, and I spend a couple. minutes speaking with them. I was in Australia with my boyfriend and the drag queen performing knew me from TikTok; it was one of the most flattering things ever. That is such a change from the shit that I have gone through pre Tik Tok.
MC: Manifestation is so important, especially when it comes to ushering in an era of kindness for out community. What do you want to see happen for yourself and your community?
CB:With the powers of the internet and social media, the exchange of ideas is readily available; you can reach a massive amount of people.Sometimes, people dont know that they agree with you until they hear words from someone else and it sparks something within them; it resonates with them and it connects. I think all of these people that aren’t going out and meeting other queer folk and are in their own world thinking the queer community is bad, scary ugly toxic, it is all of those thing but it does not define the entirely for the community. What I am manifesting is that people do recognize that and that the whole queer community isn’t that. The people that are excluding themselves from the queer community rejoin, and those that are perpetuating the toxicity can wake up and have a little more empathy for the people that they are damaging and chasing away from the queer community. Those are two things that I would love to happen; at the end of the day, each of us individually is the queer community and we can represent it; and I would love to represent the queer community in a way that is not toxic. Eventually would like to open a queer space, where I can hopfully steer the direction of the energy or the vibe in the space to promote positivity. I would like it to reflect my outlook on the community and hopefully it attracts those people. That way people could step into the space,e feel comfortable and not judged. I would love to have that and I feel like I have the power to do that.
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