JEN PERLMUTTER

June 2, 2017

“There is nothing more freeing than living your truth and being honest with yourself and others. Life is one long lesson in getting to know yourself and you can’t be afraid of being messy and real while you figure it all out. Be the beautiful you that you are.”

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1. Where are you from and where do you live now?

I am originally from lil’ Rhody aka Rhode Island, the smallest state, not a suburb of Long Island. I spent my college years in Boston, my early 20’s in Los Angeles and I currently reside in Brooklyn, NY.

2. Tell me a little bit about what you spend most of your days doing.

I am lucky to have a career in a field that I love, so it rarely feels like work. That being said, I spend my days running Found, a non-exclusive representation and marketing company for commercial and editorial photographers, illustrators and production artists. As Director, you can usually find me searching for new artists, chatting with clients, planning events, editing portfolios or tending to one of the million other things on my “to do” list. If I am not working, I am playing with my pup, Benny Lebowski. He never ceases to bring a smile to my face.

3. Give us a little insight into your backstory/upbringing…

I grew up in an edge city of this country’s smallest state, Rhode Island. The area I lived in was predominately Catholic and very Italian. I was neither. I was one of the Jewish kids.To my dad, getting Bat Mitzvah’d was just like going to college, an obvious and necessary next step in life. I also spent 9 summers going to an all Jewish sleep away camp in New Hampshire. Religion played an important role in my early life but ultimately it became more of a cultural experience than a religious one and I am happy with that secular status. My parents divorced when I was very young and I was physically raised by my mom and sister. My dad was around, and a good guy, but in a very unhealthy second marriage. Needless to say, he was not an ideal role model for happy and thriving romantic relationships. My mother on the other hand is the most resilient and beautiful woman I know and my sister and I always came first, no matter who she was with.

I didn’t come out until I was twenty. It was 2005 and I was attending Emerson College. The unofficial motto of my school was “gay by May” or “gay til graduation.” I didn’t know I was gay right away, but I knew I had feelings for girls, even as a younger kid, I just didn’t know what they meant. Maybe all girls felt how I did about their friends. It wasn’t until I met my first girlfriend that it all came together. I told my mom I was dating Vanessa on Mother’s Day and my dad a few days later. They were both surprised but accepting and chalked it up to a phase I was going through. Twelve years later, they know it is not a phase and they are very supportive of me. There has been a lot of growth in the type of support they give and their ability to be inclusive of me and my partners and I am forever grateful for their open mindedness.

What brings me to Promote Love? I know not everyone is as lucky as I am. My friends and family, even those who still hold fast to our Jewish upbringing, are extremely supportive and loving. I want to give that back to those who have not had it as easy. I was given so much love, it is overflowing and I want nothing more than to give it back to those who need a little extra, because even a little love goes a very long way.

4. What is your religious background?

Jewish

5. On a scale of 1 – 5 how supportive was your family when you came out? (1: Not supportive 5: ALL GOOD!)

4

6. What is one accomplishment in your life that you’re proud of that most people might not know of?

When I first moved to New York I wanted to host a silent art auction in support of the Hetrick Martin Institute, an organization that provides various programs for LGBTQ youth. I had no idea how to throw an event at the time, but with the help of some pretty amazing people we made it happen. It was not the most successful event, but I learned a lot and promoted awareness of an organization with a mission I believed in. I bring this up as an accomplishment for two reasons. First, I was putting my words into action. It is easy to say you want to do something, but doing it is the hard part. Second, I did something out of my expertise and comfort zone. It is always important to challenge yourself, it promotes growth. Don’t ever forget to celebrate even the smallest accomplishments.

7. Why do you feel that the simple message of the Promote Love Movement is important?

The message is simple and powerful. The Promote Love Movement provides a safe space for the LGBTQ community to share and spread their stories of love. These stories have the potential to reach so many, including those who may need the support and encouragement most. For every well adjusted, accepted LGBTQ person, there are those that rely on the strength of our community to help them through the hard times. I know every time I read a new story or look at new photos on the site I feel an overwhelming sense of acceptance and empowerment. A little love just goes a very long way.

8. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone if you knew that today was going to be your last day to live?

Well, I hope this isn’t my last day to live!! I will direct my advice to everyone out there that did not or is not having as easy a time coming out as I did. Resist FEAR and accept love. Fear is nothing more than False Evidence Appearing Real, especially when it is comes to the validity of your sexuality. Never fear your truth or love; It is valid, it is special, it is real and it is NORMAL. It is very unfortunate if your family and friends cannot get behind you, but there is a community of people, LGBTQ and allies, that will. You have heard it before, and I will say it again – It really does get better.

9. Why do you think it is important to be your authentic self?

There is nothing more freeing than living your truth and being honest with yourself and others. Life is one long lesson in getting to know yourself and you can’t be afraid of being messy and real while you figure it all out. Be the beautiful you that you are.

10. How do you feel like growing up in church played a part [positively or negatively] in shaping who you are?

I grew up in a temple, but by the time I came out to my family I was not attending as often. I did fear what people in my Jewish community would think when I came out, especially those I attended an all Jewish summer camp with for 9 years. It was a process, but I am lucky that most people came to my side and whether it was liking a post about LGBTQ rights or a photo of me and my girlfriend, I felt supported and loved.

11. Top 3 books/documentaries/podcasts that have helped in life?

The L Word T.V. show not the reality one) – I know, I know.. but it was instrumental when I came out. I was in college and in love with my first girlfriend and I was finally seeing a show that depicted lesbians as they are, human. It made me feel normal. It helped me to accept myself.

#JEWISH #LESBIAN #LGBT #NEW YORK #Religion

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