To celebrate Pride this month, we’re sharing the stories of young creatives showing their pride and proving that love is love. We’ve partnered with GLSEN to introduce an exclusive collection of graphic tees and hats, as well as Fujifilm to curate a Instax Mini Group Show with all profits donated to GLSEN in support of LGBTQ youth. Here we chat with US@UO Raul Jimenez Arroyo.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
Hello, I’m Raul!
I grew up here in Los Angeles and I’ve lived in the Harbor Area my entire life. I thrive in creativity and love all things art. Photography is my biggest passion but I’ve always had a paintbrush on canvas or a pencil on paper since I can remember. Something I pride myself in is my consistency and consciousness of who I am. Legitimacy is priceless and I’ll always have time for someone genuine.
What does love mean to you?
Growing up bilingual I was given twice the ability to define my sentiments. If love had a
meaning, I would say it means to teach us to be thoughtful. “To love” is to want, and to be
“In love” is to need. We all know how to love but we don't all know what it means be in love
and that is when people define their emotions with this word rather that what they're
actually in. That is why I would define love as difficult but it’s means are to make us happy.
Are there any people in your life who have been particularly inspiring for you?
Of course my parents are my biggest inspiration, always. My dad has been working since
before he was a teenager and watching him I’ve learned the importance of hard work. My
mom had her own business and married her first boyfriend, my dad, she has taught me the
importance of stability and to mind only the deserving. Though he might not be in my life directly, David Attenborough was always someone who I looked up to. I grew up watching and listening to him in documentaries, always attentive to what he has to teach about life around the world.
What's something about yourself that not many people know?
I don’t have much to share that isn't already evident but I really love the sciences. I love
feeling small even if it’s just under the twenty stars that are visible from my apartment. I
love taking the dirt and pebbles out of my boots after a hike on the sea floor terraces that
are now Rancho Palos Verdes. Knowing what things are and why they are fascinates me. Most
of all I could never live without the irrelevance and wonder I feel when I think about how big
existence and nonexistence is around me.
Why are you proud to be who you are?
I am proud to be who I am because I am not afraid to be so; Who I am. I’ve barely turned
twenty-three but I feel lucky to have already figured out who that is. I have gone through the
confusion and denial of being a Gay Chicano Immigrant Minority. I love living in this beautiful
city that might not be perfect but even on its bad days is silently tolerant.
What is one thing that you wish everyone would remind themselves every day?
Right now in this present moment, this is your life. We only have today and not knowing
whether we’ll have tomorrow is what what makes us value it all that much more.
Acknowledge that others, too, have their own lives and if they live and let live then you
should too. Don't be afraid to give, love, accept but always keep the fight that pushes you
Why is it important to love yourself?
I’m not perfect now but I grew up heavier than who you see today. I was a thick one,
trust me. Regardless of how much I weighed I was just as content back then with who I was.
Maybe not how I looked, but I’ve always felt loved by those who I chose to surround myself
with and in return I learned to love myself, too. You will always be you at the end of the day;
If you don't love yourself first then at least begin to accept what you can’t change and
reshape what you can.
What's next for you?
I would love to keep working with UO in Social Media. It’s been a little over a year since I
started submitting photos to @UO_OC. I have never had this much fun or focus in my
entire life. Watching the likes and comments on a photo that Urban Outfitters re-grams is
unbelievable. Being able to reach thousands of people at the touch of a screen and knowing
that they're looking at something I’ve created is an amazing feeling.
Any advice that you can share that will empower others to be who they are?
Have confidence in yourself and own who are! If you confide in who you are people will
notice. You might get the occasional person that will dislike the shoes you love to wear or the
outfit that makes you feel amazing but as long as you feel it, nobody else’s opinion matters.
They’re giving you their unneeded opinion because they cant handle how good you feel and
carry yourself. Only mind the good vibes and block those that cloud your space.
Lastly, what do you hope for people to take away from your Fujifilm Instax Film series for the upcoming Space 15 Twenty group show?
I hope that people will learn just how awesome is to be alive and to exist with so many
different lives around us. There are so many stories within each of us. Stories that could be
told with these awesome mini photos that are like little windows into peoples lives. I hope
you guys liked peering into mine.
Check out more details on the upcoming UO Pride Fujifilm Instax Group Show here!
Follow Raul Jimenez Arroyo on Instagram