To Top

Rising Stars: Meet Franklin Cruz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Franklin Cruz. 

Hi Franklin, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I was a nerdy kid being raised in Texas and when my dad got a new job in Denver we came here. I arrived still shy, closeted, and not sure of who I was. I continued that way until the beginning of college when I got on the youth poetry slam team Minor Disturbance and ranked 3rd worldwide at Brave New Voices an international youth slam competition. I returned and got back into my nerdiness and worked in the environmental field combining arts and nature. With Americas for the Conservation + Arts I got to focus on Spanish-speaking communities and creating inclusive access to outdoor spaces and healing. It was few years later I got to work at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science as an educator performer than with Montbello Organizing Committee and now I am Frontline Farming as their Food Access Manager and resident storyteller. 

Inside I am still the nerdy kid who’s into animals, anime and still work as a writer in several spaces. I’m a danzante with Grupo Tlaloc and enjoy club style dances like house, waacking, cumbia, salsa, bachata and more. I nerd out for dinosaurs and anything paleontological, biological and spend a fair amount of time on YouTube listening to experts answer questions from Twitter. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m gay, brown, a nerd, come from an immigrant family, am vulnerable, and have a sentimental crisis over old couples, my road has had bumps. I remember coming out, figuring out my place and role in my life, and trying to make a living from it. I had difficult conversations with myself and considered self-harm and had a lot of negative self-talk in my life. I think as I got older, I realized that most folks carry these messages inside them and it takes a lot of unlearning. I don’t blame myself or anyone I think in our evolution our brain has made shortcuts to afford us thinking and that often results in generalizations, compartmentalizing, rationalizing, and basing everything off what’s familiar and in memory. For my family being gay, nerdy, and emotionally sensitive wasn’t familiar and over time we’ve transformed. As we face the unknown with consent or not, we are transformed and it’s in our character that we have the most power to influence our outcome. I’m reminded of the quote “if you’re gonna go down, go down swinging”. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m mainly known for my poetic skills and I enjoy other writing styles as well. I am dancer and recently have been exploring that area of art with my recent performances at Liminal to Brice Maiurro’s poetry. I am most proud of my work with improvisational poetry and often take crowd suggestions and integrate them into a live performance poem. I have found a niche within the science-minded and poetic-minded folks. In my most recent projects, I’ve pulled a lot of inspiration from the concept of biomimicry. I also try to remember what my elders and teachers have taught me. So, in my work I pay respects to generations past and future. I often ask folks how far back can we think to remind us of our intergenerational cultures. I like to say it’s easiest if we think of everything as an ecosystem with biodiversity, different adaptations, climates, and influences. 

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
Find the community where your type of folks flourish and then find where the roots are formed. In my history, it was open mics and slam teams that connected me to the arts community in Denver at large. It was through a festival by Americas for the Conservation & Arts that I made friends into the larger environmental community in Denver. It was through Grupo Tlaloc Danza group that I got more connected to the indigenous community in Denver. I’ve learned that my place in all these places is welcomed and also, I hold no power in these most of these spaces. Where I did receive power, I had to lead with grace and clarity. 

So, when you’re coming in get to know folks, learn the history and see who’s leading, who’s led, and who hasn’t led and still has been in the space over time. Some folks are made to be mentors, some have businesses for it, others made groups and collectives and each one can only help you so much. A deep truth is you always have to hone your skill and talents regardless of any opportunity. You’re not talented to impress anyone other than yourself and you should always have a connection to your creations. 

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Instagram: fcruz_unido

Image Credits
Johnnie Medina
Jenna Loeva

Suggest a Story: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

More in Local Stories

  • Denver Artist iBleazy releases Higher

    Today we’re connecting again with iBleazy to discuss his new song and lyric video Higher. iBleazy is  a content partner. Content partners...

    Local StoriesAugust 27, 2021