The Last Page is dedicated to individuals who are making a positive impact on the LGBTQ community in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.
This issue, we check in with 6S Boutique owners Andy and Sasha Citino from St. Petersburg. Keep an eye on this space to learn more about the movers and shakers of your community.
Hometowns: Andy: Rochester, New York; Sasha: originally from Brooklyn, raised in Glencoe, Trinidad
Identifies As: Andy: transgender; Sasha: pansexual
Pronouns: Andy: He/Him/His; Sasha: She/Her/Hers
Out Years: Andy: 1983; Sasha: 1998
Professions: 6S Boutique co-owners; Andy is also an author and Sasha is also a a Senior Data Engineer
Professional Role Models: Andy: Equality Florida’s Nadine Smith; Sasha: Bill Gates and Bridgette Hyacinth.
Autobiography Titles: Andy: “She Almost Killed Me,” not about Sasha; Sasha: “Crash Course in Life: My 30s”
Hobbies: Store design, nature, binge watching television and other arts & entertainment.
What do you do professionally?
Andy is 6S Boutique’s make-up dealer and an author. Sasha handles 6S Boutique’s back office and is a data engineer for a prominent health care service company.
How do you champion for the local LGBTQ community?
We are organizers of the annual St. Pete Transgender Day of Remembrance and when asked, speak at colleges, organizations and political events. We exercise our civic duty and vote for candidates, bills and laws that support and protect the LGBTQ community and support our local LGBTQ organizations. 6S Boutique is also a safe place; we have resources available for most needs. We’re always ready to speak up and out for the rights, protections and equality for our community. We are anonymous, small time philanthropists that do what we can.
What is your favorite thing to read in Watermark?
Desk columns and Overheard.
What is your favorite local LGBTQ event?
What is your favorite thing about your local LGBTQ community?
We are mighty, large in numbers and when push comes to shove we always have each other’s backs.
What would you like to see improved in your local LGBTQ community?
More venues for LGBTQ performers and their fans.
What would you like our readers to know about you?
We are human and we have human relationships with love, laughter, compassion, respectful disagreement and healthy debate. While we are social we enjoy our quiet times at home with our four-legged son AJ, and privacy.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Andy: You are not alone, please look up “transgender.” Once you do you will know your truth and why you feel so lost. You will find support and love – your need to escape will no longer be persistent. Knowing your truth will save you from decades of pain, danger and loss of freedom. Many will look to you for support. You are a good and decent man.
Sasha: You are enough, you do fit into this world and will belong to a loving community that accepts you for who you are. Hang tight, your family loves you; it takes time for them to catch up to your openness. Pay attention in History and Math classes, one will help you to respect and understand the past and how we got here, the other will help you to design systems across many industries that help hundreds of thousands of people and pay the bills.
How did your marriage prepare you for owning and operating 6S together?
Marriage is teamwork and so is building a business. Having open communication, learning to pick our battles, trust and listening to each other’s ideas to find middle ground. There is always risk with love as there is with business – we have learned how to balance the risk and still have fun and adventure with many rewards.
What have been some of the most rewarding or challenging aspects of running 6S?
It’s been so rewarding helping people around the country feel beautiful, supported and embraced. Witnessing someone see their true self in the mirror for the first time makes our hearts burst.
Parents bringing their LGBTQ children to the store, allowing them to be free to express who they are is a reward like no other. It can be challenging to keep up with the ebb and flow of daily business.
Recent LGBTQ venue closures adversely affect the spending freedom of our customers, affecting 6S Boutique. Operating a retail and small brick and mortar business in the age of “Amazon” is proving to be our greatest challenge, but the rewards are far greater than the challenges. We are happy to be here.
For more information about 6S Boutique, visit their website.