It's fitting that Pride Month occurs in June every year in the United States, considering that this year more and more brands and marketing trends have begun to set their focus onto riding the “Gaycation” trend. As the LGBTQ+ community continues to solidify itself in the normative zeitgeist of American culture, the outreach and engagement keeps progressing into a synced commonality.
Freddy Rodriguez has made a name for himself as a social media influencer, a young and stylish entrepreneur, and a fashionista. The theme of his blog, BluePerk.net, is his expression of the commingling of style and travel. Blue Perk’s name also serves as an expression of what defines him: The color blue, which is his favorite, and also how living a “colorful” life is essential to him, and his demeanor, which is definitively energetic, cheerful, and “perky.”
Daamn!: What do you feel constitutes success in 2018?
Freddy Rodriguez: This is a tough question as it has many variables for many different people. For me, to feel successful is to be able to do what I love for a living. Success is being able to work with brands that I used to once only dream of working with when I first started my blog. To be able to have a voice that inspires others and allows me to connect with like-minded individuals around the world. It’s not the amount of money I make, but the experiences I’m able to have.
Classically, the benchmarks of success hearken back to the classic American landscape of a 2-car garage, a house in the suburbs, and a white picket fence akin to a Norman Rockwell painting. What do you think the current benchmarks for success include for up and coming young people? Has it changed drastically from this seemingly 1950's imagery?
I really think the benchmarks have changed from traditional living to being much more focused on digital success. I could have never imagined doing what I’m doing as a kid. Though now, I know my nephew and his friends that are only 12 years old, plus many others even younger, aspire to be full time YouTubers or Instagrammers. The new goals are to live a more nomadic lifestyle focused around creating a life that is always perfect, or at least appears that way.
How do you think your own experiences shaped your views and motivation towards becoming successful and setting goals for yourself?
My experiences as a kid growing up in a small south Texas town at first made it difficult for me to achieve the success I have now. I was shy and wasn’t good at networking. Then while in college as a freshman at FIT in New York City, I became a nightlife photographer’s intern and she taught me how to be more confident in myself and networking. This experience allowed me to change how I perceived myself and motivated me to become more social and better at networking.
Trends show that it is becoming more and more acceptable to "dress down" in the workplace. How do you feel we came to this point, contrasting deeply from the 3-piece "business guy" suit that we recognize as being a staple of the 1980's workforce?
I’m all about dressing down in the workplace when it’s done properly. The old business guy mold for suits is a way of showing sophistication and is still proper for some lines of business, but for the modern freelance entrepreneurs, there is no need for a 3-piece suit.
Business casual is my favorite form of work attire. Most important is that clothing fits properly, it’s not too revealing, and the individual looks good. The main reason we’ve gotten to this point in attire is that our work industries have changed. Working 9-5 is on its way out slowly as more and more individuals like myself work for themselves, or for an agency that believes in self expression, creativity, and having freedom to dress down or business casual is accepted, if not, encouraged.
How do you think this shift in attitudes started?
This shift in attitude has been happening since just before Steve Jobs. The internet has changed a lot of what our jobs look like and therefore what we are wearing to work.
What do you feel constitutes newer workplace dress codes? Should the workforce shift into more fashionable, stylized looks, or is there something to be considered when examining older "professional attire?"
Depending on the industry, business casual should be encouraged.
On lifestyle, do you feel like social progressivism is creating a more accommodating environment to allow the LGBTQ community to continue on an upward trend in terms of social mobility? How have things changed in the past 10 years?
In the past 10 years there have been many strives for the LGBTQ+ community. Most recent has been the right to marriage. Though with our current administration not even acknowledging Pride month this year, we have to continue pushing for being inclusive, upward social mobility, and acceptance.
So it's Pride Month and you may have noticed more and more brands engaging with the LGBTQ community lately. What is social media's growing role in engaging and energizing in terms of representation and branding? What positives or negatives come as a result of this growing interest in your community?
This is another tricky question as it’s a double edge. On one hand, it’s super great that so many companies are doing Pride collections and raising awareness. On another hand, some companies are exploiting pride for their own profit. Instead of creating collections, they could just donate all the money to charities that help the LGBTQ+ community. Then again, it’s great that it’s normalizing gay so that the youth around the world don’t feel like outcasts and they have allies in brands. In the end, I’m happy that so many brands are showing their support. It’s just important that they all give back and not just exploit Pride for their benefit.