My name is Danielle Diamond, and at the time of writing this, Fall of 2022, I am 34 years young & living on the unceeded territories of The Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Diamond is not my given ‘sir’ name, it’s my adopted HER name & I dare say I’ve earned it.
I was born with an innate desire to explore both the great outdoors and the deep inner landscape of the human psyche. I was the daughter of a loving but short leashed second generation immigrant Mother & an alcoholic, emotionally abusive father. I was born severely hearing impaired in both ears and was a dedicated fundamentalist Christian until my early 20’s.
An artist by birth, I began my practice early by using myself, family members & friends as canvases for my artistic expression & mirrors in which I could see different angles of myself through. Though I loved to spend hours alone in nature; dress-up & improvisational interactive performances was how I filled most of my play time as a child, beginning what’s been a life long experiment of intentional shape shifting & documenting these shifts through visual storytelling.
I tell stories through dance, film & photography. These three mediums have been my life long creative passions & I was in my first ballet class by the age of two. My dance training continued to the pre-professional level until high school graduation, where self-worth issues, lack of artistic mentorship & a profound desire to understand ‘God’ lead me to dropping out of dance training & enrolling in full time bible-based theological studies.
‘Love as sacrifice’ was a strong Christian value my family upheld, so I sacrificed my dream of becoming a professional dancer to become more Godly. Ironically this choice would lead to my eventual parting from the Christian community when professors couldn’t’ answer my interrogation style questions & the lights in the nightclubs started to look better then the self suffering hypnotic church songs on repeat.
In three short years my whole world view had shifted drastically. I moved alone from small town to big city, & as a naive ‘good Christian girl,’ I faced almost instantly, two sudden & shocking events of sexual abuse. These crisis’ were immediately buried with shame & guilt though they offered me the opportunity to deeply examine the fundamentalist attitude: If God was real, & He ultimatly wanted me to save myself for marriage, why would He let THIS happen to me?
A bitter sweet wakeup call was served & I was determination to fight back, but just who was I too fight if it was God’s fault but God wasn’t real?
I soon found perceived safety somewhere deep in the artistic subculture of Vancouver’s underground queer party scene. They say suffering leads to inspiration and between 2010 & 2014 I created an immense body of experimental artworks, becoming a locally infamous performance artist, concept model, costume designer & reliable all night access to some of the wildest parties in town.
Since I no longer had God to blame my problems on, my battle turned inward & I became an expert at alchemizing gentleness into roughness, vulnerability into violence & the need for love & closeness into damaging inner rage. I was attempting to accept my queerness (big sin), failing to have positive sexual relationships outside of marriage (bigger sin), & finding that I gained self-protective energy in the various dramatic acts of rebelling against my puritan past.
I was succumbing to the addictions of my father and they helped me resist the loneliness & displacement I felt from being essentially expelled from the cult-like world I grew up in.
Sometime around age 25 I hit my first rock bottom & had the better sense to move away from ‘the scene.’ As a result of my severe hearing loss, I had struggled to form genuine connections outside ‘the scene’ & instead of seeking help, I isolated & begun recovering from my drug & trauma induced psychosis alone. My creative life never stopped (at this point I was managing a fairly successful costume company & had just opened my own photography studio) but I was in a deep depression, afraid of therapy, and safely believing that the whole world was my enemy!
In 2016 I had a revolutionary spiritual healing experience during a Hawaiin Lomi Lomi bodywork session, where I experienced an opening of my heart chakra and a profound awakening of love in my energetic body. At that point something made me realize that in order to curate a radical shift in my inner world, I needed to create one in my outer world! So true to my dramatic nature, I closed shop on my life in Vancouver & bought a one-way ticket to heal myself in Central America. (Yes, the bad hairstyle was a part of my plan…I would blend in until I was ready to stand out again.)
6 years & many more radical shifts later I am back where I left off, making art in a vibrant queer-leaning scene, though luckily this time around I am much more aware of my mental wellness needs, in control of my addictive natures & proud of my artistic accomplishments. I have credits as a feature film costume designer, I have traveled to many countries, I can transform myself & others into any sort of creature the imagination desires, & my quest for connection with Spirit is constantly unfolding in profound ways.
I’ve decided to share my life story publicly for the first time in order to reach any fellow be-ings who could be realigned to their path of wellness knowing they are not alone. I am publishing this content on my artist website in order to merge the two identities I’ve been operating as; One as Danielle Diamond, a somewhat ‘out-there’, socially extroverted avant garde artist, and the other as ‘Red Velvet Renegade’, a student of plant medicine, nature-based artist, explorer of human consciousness & introverted empath.
I am currently in another life re-direction phase where I start shifting from textile-based projects into psychologically & historically-based projects as I am researching & studying a topic I call ‘costume therapy.’ I believe aspects of this ancient practice helped me on my healing journey without my awareness, so I am crafting a user-freindly formula which I believe will be a powerful healing tool for those people who like me, have been faced with debilitating identity crisis’ in their lives.
You can experience my archived work as a costume designer, creative director and performance artist at www.houseofregalia.ca and follow my two halves on instagram both the empath & the extrovert. As I move on to the next chapter of my life’s journey I want to take a moment of gratitude for all the major & minor players in my story so far. I remember more of you then you may think and thank-you for bearing witness to my struggle, enduring my aggressive years, & celebrating the big wins along the way.
In Love & Understanding that HOPE is a VERB, & to be Hopeful, we must MOVE.
Danielle I Diamond.