Otessa recognizes that cyber bullying is a big problem affecting many LGBTQ teens online today. But as someone who has been involved with new media since the advent of the Internet age, she has also long appreciated the freedom of the web to create a safe space for LGBTQ youth to connect. The process of coming out and being open with one’s identity is a difficult one, and the web can serve as a supportive community for those going through it. Otessa has actively been trying to relay a positive message in the media to foster this facet of the web and build an even safer place for youth to connect online.
She was recently touched and inspired by Neil Giuliano‘s story. As the former Republican Mayor of Tempe, Arizona, he was in the closet for years before coming out. He later became President of the LGBT equality organization GLAAD, and is now CEO at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. He wrote a memoir called The Campaign Within, where he candidly shares details of his long journey from being a shy, self-doubting kid with a secret in an Italian-American Catholic family, to making history as the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. city over 150,000 in population.
But Otessa’s heart went out to his experience. For years Neil couldn’t openly be who he truly was– and that’s a shame because look how amazing he is! And the truth is, we all have this inner potential and our own story and light, and the world is a better place if we can be honest in sharing that with the world. Look at Neil and the wonderful things he’s doing to help youth and those affected with AIDS. He’s an icon of hope.
Otessa has a special interactive new media project in the works that involves her filming this year’s Capital Pride parade to further promote the Internet as a safe space for youth. In her campaign to “Go Orange” she’ll be gathering personal and positive messages for LGBTQ youth to include in her new video project. As part of “Going Orange,” Otessa will be giving away free tee shirts during the parade will also be selling them online to donate a portion of each sale to an organization supporting LGBTQ youth in particular. She’s already developed an app for people to send pictures of themselves “Going Orange” to put their city on a map and show their LGBTQ youth support. If you’re a supporter, submit your pic! And if you’ll be in the Nation’s Capitol for PRIDE, stop by and say hi to Otessa. She’ll be easy to spot– she’ll be the one in orange!