Victor Jackson’s father tossed his first pair of ballet shoes into the trash. It was a failed attempt to derail his son’s desire to study dance, restrict access to what he believed to be queer affirming spaces, and to suppress a noticeably burgeoning queer identity. It didn’t work. But that didn’t stop his minister father from trying, nor did it extinguish Jackson’s fire for an artform that would catapult him into his purpose. When Jackson saw his ballet shoes in the trash, which were purchased at Goodwill and gifted to him by his babysitter, he said he knew that he’d be solely responsible for finding ways to receive the training he needed and to create ways to learn and to lean into his passion.
An Atlanta native, Jackson, 35, tells The Reckoning that he didn’t take his first dance class until he was a 17-year-old senior at Tri-Cities High School.
“There was always this battle for me to dance. And because I couldn’t take classes and my dad didn’t want me to, I would just study movie musicals; whenever “CATS” or “The Nutcracker” would come on Georgia Public Television, I would watch it,” said Jackson. “Fame, “The Wiz,” “A Chorus Line,” “West Side Story,” “All That Jazz,” “Sweet Charity,” those were all films that I watched growing up that helped me learn how to dance.”
Reality television viewers may recall seeing Jackson on several episodes of The Real Housewives of Atlanta in his element as a choreographer and friend to cast member and fellow Tri-Cities High School graduate Kandi Burrus. But ironically, Jackson says for a long time during his formative years he didn’t have the language for who he would ultimately become.
“I didn’t even know the word choreographer growing up. I was never in spaces where that word was used,” said Jackson. “Now being somebody that has been on TV around the world as a choreographer, I think it is a testament to the power of purpose. I think it’s a testament to all things essentially working together for your good. It is a testament to the fact that no person, even your parents can detour your destiny.”
Having grown up as a preacher’s kid in a strict religious household, Jackson says challenging his father’s decision that forbade him from taking dance classes was not an option.
“Talking back was not tolerated. It was something that I really wanted to do and I didn’t fully understand my dad’s apprehension, but I knew that I wanted to dance and I couldn’t take classes, but my brother played football, and he played every season, so I noticed the disparity there,” he said.
Jackson says he believes his father’s decision that temporarily stood in the way of his destiny was rooted in homophobia and the fear of his sexual orientation being anything outside of the socially acceptable heterosexual norm. But he says he was just beginning to unpack the truth about his sexuality around this time after having his first boyfriend.
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