When we think about people’s reasons for moving to Orlando, we might sometimes overlook the ability to be who you are without fear. That was the impetus for Jose Rodriguez Marmol to come here in 2010 from his native Venezuela, where life as an openly gay man was simply not a pleasant experience.
“I feel grateful to be living in a country that gives me the opportunity to be and feel free,” he says – a gratitude that helps compensate for the home, parents, siblings and close friends he had to leave behind to live his truth in a new land. “Central Florida is my safe place to be, my home.”
It’s also a place where he can cultivate his lifelong passion for show business. Growing up in Caracas, he used to put on pretend talk shows in his room, with his toys as the audience; now, he has a degree in Entertainment Business from Full Sail University, and hosts a podcast in which he interviews artistic luminaries in English and Spanish. He also manages Venezuelan-born Orlando artist JJ Gonzalez Acosta and has founded a nonprofit, Diverse and Inclusive Arts for the Community in Central Florida (DIACF), which he says will spotlight the local arts in a way that emphasizes inclusion. Pursuing a Master of Arts in New Media Journalism is yet another item on his to-do list.
Despite the circumstances that forced him to emigrate here with the contents of a single suitcase, he still has fond feelings for the land of his birth. Cooking traditional recipes during the holidays is just one way he stays in touch with the traditions of his youth. “I have always felt proud of being Venezuelan,” he says.
But no matter where he chooses to live, he promises his focus will always be on telling his story and encouraging others to tell their own. “I am writing my story in this adventure called life,” he explains. “Come, join me in this adventure, where you are also the artist.”