I am excited to introduce our readers to amazing and caring people who live, work, play and do business in our community and city. Learning about people of all lifestyles, talents, and personalities who I think would be interesting for our readers to enjoy. San Diego has a wonderful diversity of individuals that make our slice of paradise the greatest place to live and enjoy each other’s uniqueness.
One of those amazing people I get to feature in my column for this Pride issue is DJ Taj. He has been one of our most popular and talented DJ’s in our community for a couple of decades. Bringing people together with his music throughout the years. I have not only worked with DJ Taj in the clubs over the years, but I have also been on the dance floor dancing right next to many of you to his music. His dedication to his craft has given so many people the opportunity to enjoy countless evenings, parties, and events dancing the night away. It is my privilege to introduce a man with a heart of gold, DJ Taj.
How did you end up in San Diego and what do you love about it?
I honestly moved to San Diego from Cincinnati, Ohio without ever even visiting because a few of my good friends had moved out here first and would call me with stories about this mythical, Gay tropic called Hillcrest. I desperately wanted to broaden my horizons and get out of the Midwest, so I obviously jumped on the opportunity when I got a call from one of those friends to ask me to pick up and relocate to be his roommate. What I love the most about San Diego, besides the obvious (the beach, the weather, etc.) are the people, but more specifically the Hillcrest community. I had never felt more free to be myself or met so many genuinely down to earth, welcoming, inclusive people in my life. We didn’t have a “Gayborhood” in Cincinnati back in the 90s. I was barely coming out back then and Cincinnati being a very conservative (kind of rough around the edges) city, I never felt safe to be open about myself. So, you can imagine how Hillcrest completely blew my mind while filling my heart at the same time.
What gets you most excited about life?
A wise woman once said, “Nothing takes the past away, like the future…”. Right now, I’m coming out of the roughest year of my 40-something years on this planet… I was in a dark place and to be completely honest, I didn’t think I would survive it. Well as of a month or so ago, I have found my way out of that darkness and have a newfound appreciation for life and am really excited about my future. For me, it took going to the lowest and darkest of places, to the point I almost died to truly open my eyes for the first time and realize that I was lucky to be alive, that I have control of my own destiny, and that the future is always going to be as dark or as bright as I was going to make it. We’re always going to experience adversity and hardships in life but it’s how we choose to get through them that really dictates our future happiness. So, coming out of this dark year, right now I’m most excited about all the opportunities that I’m going to create for myself in my immediate and long-term future. I’m setting goals for myself and not limiting myself as far as what I’m trying to achieve so the sky’s the limit! Right now, it’s my chosen future that gets me the most excited about life!
Oh, and that wise woman was Madonna in her song “Nothing Really Matters”.
In your professional life, what makes your business stand out and how has it changed your life?
Being a DJ, the nature of my business is to literally stand out. I’m usually standing up on a stage somewhere with all eyes on me so it’s either you stand out and make a lasting impression or get awkward stares from the crowd that are questioning why someone chose to put you up there. And believe me I’ve gotten both! So, I’ve learned very early on in my career that what resonates the most with the audience is to be completely immersed and engaged with every single song I play and to interact with the crowd…. As if I was serenading them. I must feel every song in my heart as I’m playing it and that usually manifests itself physically in the performance I’m giving the crowd to make me stand out from the rest. How has it changed my life? Well, I’ve been DJing for my main source of income since I was 21 years old… I literally do what I love the most in life for a living, and have shown no signs of slowing down, as far as gigs are concerned. That, in itself, has absolutely elevated my confidence, my happiness, and my quality of life as a whole. My career is my biggest source of pride and self-love in my life.
What small act of kindness were you once shown that you’ll never forget?
During that really dark year of my life when I lost myself, there were a lot of people in my life (some close friends and others I barely knew) who were concerned for me and would randomly reach out to check in and let me know I was on their mind. Those little check-ins truly helped save my life. One of those times in particular that really stands out came from one of my dear friends and owner of Rich’s Night Club, Ryan Bedrosian. He constantly would send me texts to check on me with very uplifting messages of support. Somewhere near the approach of my birthday, he asked me what my plans were for the big day, to which I replied that I had no plans. Prior to that year, I was in an 11-year relationship, so my birthday always fell in the hands of my ex to plan out… Now I was alone, depressed, and antisocial so I had no one looking out for me to plan the festivities and I certainly wasn’t in a mindset to do it for myself. When I told him I had no plans, he basically took the wheel and planned an intimate birthday dinner for me and some of my coworkers. Tears are literally rolling down my face as I’m typing this – That’s how PROFOUND that small check-in, which led to quaint dinner, affected me. I can’t imagine how much more alone and lower I would have gotten if absolutely no one had made an effort to do anything on my birthday that year. I’ve always had the utmost love and respect for Ryan and considered him a dear friend… But now I consider him family!
If the universe could grant you one wish, what would you wish for, and why?
That’s a loaded question… And a tough one. I have questions! Could I wish for unlimited wishes? Let’s clarify that first…
If you were given the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world, and were able to take one person with you, where would you go, who would you take, and why?
I would go somewhere with beautiful, mild weather that was very dog friendly and I would take my dog Daphne with me because she’s getting up there in age (13) and she has been through IT ALL with me! (Here come those tears again) She’s seen me at my best, at my worst and everything in between and she has been my one constant through it all. She’s given me so much emotional support that I should be paying her the salary of a therapist! It’s amazing to me when people take their dogs for granted because they truly are angels here on this earth with the sole purpose to protect us and give us unconditional love when you don’t always get it from other humans. So, Daphne HANDS DOWN deserves that trip!
If you had a chance to spend one million dollars on someone, or any group of people, who would it be and how would you spend that money to better them?
I barely have 100 dollars in my account right now… If I had a million dollars, could I spend it on me?! Maybe invest it in something with a big return so I can reap the benefits AND spend it on others? HAHA! I’m joking! I think I would split my donations between organizations that support black Trans people (such as The Okra Project which provides resources and meals to black Trans people) because black Trans women are the most vulnerable community under our LGBTQ rainbow right now! I would donate another portion to some sort of a non-kill adoption organization that supports displaced dogs in need such as local dog rescues, non-kill shelters or sanctuaries… And finally, I would donate another portion to the Global Giving Syrian Refugee Relief Fund; I was born in Damascus and what has happened to my country of origin due to the civil war is an absolute travesty!
If you could give someone advice about your art, hobby, or business, what would you tell them?
Oh, that’s easy! Everything you do, no matter what it is… Do it from your heart. Don’t do it for money, popularity or necessity! Do it for the love of it or don’t do it at all!
Loving yourself is so important to becoming the best of who you are. Please write a couple sentences to describe your loving self and how you want to live your best life?
I never truly got the saying “If you don’t love yourself, no one else will” until just recently. You truly, truly must advocate for your own happiness in life. You can’t expect nor rely on anyone else to provide that love and happiness for you! The only way you can truly set yourself up for success in life is if you take control of your destiny and provide that self-love that we all so desperately need and require. Because if you truly have self-love, you will never allow yourself to do anything that would harm you or willingly lead yourself down a dead-end path that could put you and your future in harm’s way. So, I am choosing to love myself to ensure my survival in this crazy thing that we call life that can be full of pitfalls and setbacks – One’s that can potentially lead you down that wrong road if you don’t protect yourself with the strengthening & healing shield of self-love!
Gratitude is so important in each of our lives, what are you most grateful for, and how do you pay it forward?
I don’t mean to keep harping on this last year, and I wouldn’t say I’m grateful for it… I wouldn’t wish what happened to me and what followed on to anyone! What I am grateful for however is that I did manage to find the inner strength to pull myself out of the deepest and darkest depression that I’ve ever experienced – One that almost killed me. I honestly didn’t believe I would survive it, but I did, and I bounced back stronger and better than before. I have a newfound positive perspective on life that I didn’t have before my crash and burn. I’m grateful for all those people in my life that just wouldn’t let me slip through the cracks and didn’t give up or turn their backs on me, no matter how dark I became! Most importantly, I’m grateful that I’m alive and I get to be here another day to try to make this world a better place or maybe even a little bit brighter for someone else that’s going through something similar. How will I pay it forward? I guess by being the best version of myself that I can humanly be! With self-love comes the ability to truly love or care for others… And that’s half the battle in itself. I guess I will pay it forward by sharing my story to those who need to hear it someday and hopefully help them find their inner strength even though they can’t see it in whatever dark road their journey takes them on. I want to be someone else’s little beacon of light. At the end of the day, it will be their decision to walk towards that light but if I can provide any little shred of insight or clarity to lead them in the right direction… Even just one person, then it would give the senseless tragedy I went through meaning or a higher purpose so that it didn’t just randomly happen in vain!
DJ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheRealDJTaj/