Rise of the Millennials (September 2018)

By Denny Patterson

Millennials. Got to love them, right? For those who are not familiar with the term, millennials are people who are reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century. Although there is no precise date as to when this cohort starts or ends, demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years. Yes, what a time to be alive. This is the generation that is responsible for our future. They will make the changes to benefit society. There are millions of millennials within the U.S. who are currently facing financial struggles. They can’t afford to attend school or be out on their own. But, the millennial generation will step up. I had the pleasure of chatting with Andres Cannas, Darlene Hollander, Brian Jolly, and OutClique’s very own, Connor Wilkinson. Four LGBTQ millennials who told me what it’s like to be a millennial in South Florida and how they plan to make an impact within society.

Name: Andres Cannas

Age: 27

Current Location: Fort Lauderdale

Occupation: Musician / Model / Barista

Where are you from?

I always feel like the place I’m living is my home. However I was born in Medellin, Colombia. I moved to America some years ago to meet my family.

What is it like being a LGBTQ millennial in South Florida?

This question is quite challenging for me because I try to avoid tags on my life experience. Labels like millennial, black or white, LGBTQ, old or young, in my opinion, limit our lives. Creating distance, confusion, and fear between people. I consider myself as a living being with all its complexity and unintelligible meaning. I believe in being free of tags and being open to experience my spirituality, biology, or sexuality in my own infinite way. I consider living in South Florida a great experience. Regions like South Florida are not that common in the world. Having the opportunity of interacting in person with different cultures and languages is something that I really enjoy every day.

What are some of the biggest challenges millennials are facing today?

The permanent use of laptops, phones, and online life has created some behavioral issues that are definitely affecting our social lives. It seems like the person to person interaction is quite difficult these days. But, I’m not sure if that is a problem that only concerns just the millennials.

What are you personally doing to make an impact within your community?

I like spreading a message of love, hope, and self-consciousness through everything I do, either music, modeling, food, or coffee. “Music is the Healing” is the name of my first music project. I’m recording an EP with my friend and producer, Wizzmer. It is a multilingual collection of traditional songs from different parts of the world that have become a part of our heritage. It includes traditional songs dealing with fear, lost, joy, and pain.

Name: Darlene Hollander

Age: 24

Current Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Occupation: Women’s Services Case Manager at SunServe

 

Where are you from?

I was born in Havana, Cuba. My family immigrated to the United States when I was five years old.

What are some of the biggest challenges millennials are facing today?

We are one of the most traditionally educated generations, yet it is difficult to find jobs that pay a living wage and utilize the skill sets developed through our degrees. A lot of us are starting our financial futures with large amounts of student loan debt. Mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, are also at an all-time high for our generation.

What are you personally doing to make an impact within your community?

My job at SunServe is how I make the most impact. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to connect LBTQ women to LBTQ competent healthcare and social services. A lot of the services in the community have always been geared towards men, and it’s wonderful to be a part of an organization that is willing to create a space that addresses the unique needs of the women in our community. I am also the Community Coordinator for Ignite Women South Florida, a women’s social connection organization that strives to create a community of women, rather than just a physical location for women to go to. The idea is that you can close down a bar, but you can’t take away a community. Additionally, I play kickball and dodgeball through Varsity Gay League. I love making new friends and building community through sports, but also love being part of our philanthropy committee in VGL, which gives back to local organizations like Broward House.

What do you hope the future looks like?

In general, I hope that we can ride out the financial constraints that we are presently facing as a generation, and that we are able to use our knowledge to make an impact. My next stop is graduate school for Public Policy.

Name: Brian Jolly

Age: 27

Current Location: Hollywood, Florida

Occupation: Content Specialist at Hotwire Communications and Front Desk Member at CycleBar

Where are you from?

I am originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia. I wanted to get into the PR/Marketing world in South Florida.

What is it like being a LGBTQ millennial in South Florida?

I think that in today’s society, you have to view the climate as a constantly evolving atmosphere. I think we are afforded more opportunities than what may have been provided to others that came before us in this area. As someone who had to come to acceptance of myself in my later teenage and early adult life, being a LGBTQ millennial is a lot.  I am working to establish myself in the workplace and my personal life as a standard young adult, while also doing it as part of the LGBTQ community.

What are some of the biggest challenges millennials are facing today?

Relying too much on technology and media. I also think in the workplace because of the various opportunities that we wish to pursue, our superiors believe that we don’t value our jobs.  But I think it’s the complete opposite. Since being in South Florida, I have worked for an ad agency, a tech firm, a PR agency, a marketing ticket agency, and now a communications company. While it may seem like it is a lot to jump around, I value each job for different reasons, because at the end of the day each will help me get to my career endgame.

What do you hope the future looks like?

At this point, the standard is to get to a place where everyone is accepting of everyone no matter of age, sex, religion, or sexual orientation; however, my true hope is that people at least try to be open. The more that someone tries to be open the closer you get to acceptance.

Name: Connor Wilkinson
Age: 24
Current Location: Wilton Manors, Florida
Occupation: Media teacher at Saint Mark’s Episcopal School

Where are you from?
I am originally from a small town called Siloam Springs, Arkansas. It’s a little forest town with many waterfalls. I moved to South Florida in May 2016 after I graduated college to escape feeling lonely and isolated. I went to a very conservative, Christian, private school called John Brown University. Not only was I closeted, but I am also the great-grandson of John Brown.

What is it like being a LGBTQ millennial in South Florida?

For me, being a young gay man down here in South Florida has a lot of advantages. Everywhere I go I have someone who I can turn to for guidance because chances are, they have probably been through many trials that I am currently going through. I have avoided a lot of bad decisions because of my many adopted gay fathers! Specifically, one. When I first moved here I was so lost. I was 22 and all I knew was my small Arkansas life. He showed me so much kindness, patience, and love. I will never be able to return what he gave me.

Do you believe millennials are as challenged as society and the media portray them?
I think we are so challenged when it comes to social security and all of that, but I do believe we will figure it out. We will make change. I believe in us.

What are you personally doing to make an impact within your community?

Ever since I moved here I wanted to have an impact on the LGBTQ community. I eventually became a teacher and I hope I can be that person that I needed growing up for these kids. Bullying still happens and I hope I can protect those students who are in danger of it. I also shoot many of the covers for OutClique Magazine! Talk about breaking the fourth wall.

What do you hope the future looks like?

I don’t know what the future looks like but right now I’m just trying to improve what I can around me, send positive vibes, keep taking pictures, and creating art.

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