We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Vaughan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My business is Alex The Human and our vision is to bring visibility to the grand prism of human identity within and beyond the binary. Transgender, non-binary, gender fluid and gender non-conforming people have always existed; it’s just that we are raising our voices, lifting each other up and sharing stories. There weren’t always seats at the table for us. Businesses and places of work need to understand how to be inclusive for all people. This work is a personal passion of mine. As a nonbinary, trans-masculine human, I want to be a part of changing the world to make it a safer, more inclusive place for all people.
What should our readers know about your business?
There are many avenues that pour into Alex The Human. On a literal note, our work is to provide education to businesses surrounding gender identity, expression and sexuality to create safer more inclusive work places. It’s human work. It’s years and years of personal experiences that all connect to create a path ahead. We provide education, entertainment and expression. The seeds were planted over 20 years ago when I began doing drag performance art. In Columbus, Ohio, it was pretty much male illusion drag. As drag kings, we wanted to be perceived on stage as male. As I navigated my gender identity, and continued to dive in with Kim’s love and support, I was able to name what being non-binary meant for me; personally and professionally. That ‘thing’ I had always felt nagging underneath my skin was that I just don’t live in the binary world and never have. I am gender non-conforming and allow my identity to be fluid. Drag performance art was always something that helped me put movement and expression to something I didn’t quite understand as a younger adult nor the language to name the feelings. I had more journeying to do that involved deepening my sense of self-worth, love and trust. Though I stepped away from the stage performing as a drag king for a while, I continued to build communities and create spaces that felt welcoming and inviting. It brings me joy to bring people together through dance and fitness. At Life Time Fitness in Westminster, I teach fitness classes; cardio dance fitness and strength. Before COVID hit, we’d pack the room week after week to sweat, laugh, be silly, move, groove, cry, fly and heal through movement. Challenges come and go. They will always be there. I have learned that the game isn’t about how to avoid challenges or conflict. We have to have the stamina, the willingness to feel discomfort when someone tells us their truth, taking risks, deciding to dedicate yourself to using your voice to lift others. Love is cultivated by living for what matters. People, voices, stories and experiences matter. At Alex The Human, we work to connect voices in the community. We assist businesses empowering their teams to learn, to ask questions, to listen to someone else’s experience which will make their organization more inclusive. This is challenging and emotional work because you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Denver is such a dynamic and diverse city. I love living here! Food: Watercourse Foods has the best food! It’s vegan, healthy and super comforting. Hamburger Mary’s for a fabulous dinner and a drag show on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. VooDoo Doughnuts Snooze for pancakes, coffee and eggs Root Down for the incredible menu and beautiful views Nightlife: Tracks Night Club- best staff and dancing X bar Outdoor spaces: Boulder and the foothills for hiking and trails Renting scooters to buzz around the city Cheesman Park for sun and games
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Kim Salvaggio (she/hers). Kim is my partner in life, love and light. Together we have 4 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, a beautiful home and a lot to love and to be grateful for. I would not be where I am without her. Kim is a Co-Chief DEI Officer for Rocky Mountain PBS. She inspires me everyday to show up, work hard, love big and dig in. She encourages and believes in me and those around her and dedicates herself to lifting up voices. Kim changes my world everyday. Tara Jae (they/them), founder of Youth Seen. Youth Seen is a local organization lifting voices and opening doors. Their mission is to foster and empower the social and emotional well-being of LGBTQI youth and their families in all communities. Together with Kim, Tara is Co-Chief DEI Officer for Rocky Mountain PBS. Tara provided me encouragement and language around exploring my own gender identity. Our world needs voices around all identities, not just heteronormative ones. Cyrus Clemensen- Without Cyrus, the website of AlextheHuman.com would not be live. I am so grateful for his expertise, care and support as we build that platform to connect to the community. Braving The Wildnerness by Brene Brown. This book turned me inside out. With every page, I sat in the figurative boat of navigating who I am, who I want to be and the impact I want to make on the world. I laughed, sobbed and soaked up every word!
Brian Degenfelder Joshua Darling