For dancer turned writer Justin Hernandez, life is a careful balance of the dark and light, the serious and the funny. Hernandez has recently published Inside the Vortex, a emotionally naked look at life, dating and gay culture in the Big Apple. But the commentary certainly resonates beyond the bright lights and big city. The book—a prequel of sorts to his blog, Naked in New York City—is a detailed account of how he’s reached a new level of honesty and acceptance after years of addiction, abuse and denial.

“This is the back story of how I got to be where I am right now,” Hernandez explains. “When I looked back on my life, I was like, holy crap. As a gay man, I knew other gay men could relate to it as well.”

After surviving years of child abuse, Hernandez left New York to pursue a dance career in L.A., which turned into a stint as a stripper. That, coupled with substance abuse, bad decisions and constantly denying who he really was, sent Hernandez down a dark path. “[In my early year] I had a difficult time being honest with myself,” he says. “Now I’m really open and ready for that healthy relationship.”

In this week’s new episode, Swish Edition’s gay-on-the-ground in New York, Justin Luke interviews Hernandez in Hell’s Kitchen (their chat starts at the 38:35 minute mark). It’s a lighthearted look at a serious, eye-opening story.


Photos via Justin Hernandez


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