Women’s History Month is about recognizing the amazing contribution that Women, along with Gender Non-Conforming/Non-Binary humans, have on society. Today, you can find people of various backgrounds pushing for equality and representation through their work. This month, we are hearing from fellow creators and bosses about what they’re experiences.
“I grew up in South Jersey (specifically Cape May County), but now currently live in Philadelphia where I attend school at Temple University. My major is Global Studies with a concentration in global security and I have minors in Political Science and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies as well as a certificate in Spanish. As a full-time student at the end of my junior year, I wish to attend law school to become an immigration lawyer as well as work with refugees. Apart from my studies, I also make YouTube videos about my life at college/my life in general. More recently, I started to become more comfortable sharing aspects of myself that I did not share on my channel before and it has been a very freeing experience to share my inner thoughts and self with people who come across my videos and have been keeping up with my life regularly.”
How has coming out of the closet and presenting yourself as Bi-Sexual changed your life (if it has at all)? For example: are you more confident or open about yourself now?
The process of coming out for me has been a rollercoaster of emotions. What people don’t tell you about the human experience is that there is no one way to “figure it out”, you just have to dive in and learn from experiences and reflect upon your thoughts and feelings. Coming out as bi was a scary thing for me because I did not want to be labeled as an “attention seeker” or someone who was just “having a phase”. I think since coming out and now openly presenting myself as bi has changed my life by allowing me to be more accepting of myself and feel more confident.
What does being a woman in Pride mean to you?
Being a woman in Pride means that I have the freedom to be my true, authentic self and be happy with that authenticity. Knowing that there is a supportive community behind me to accept me for me and to justify and acknowledge my thoughts and feelings after years of being unsure about myself is an amazing feeling. It’s important to be your true self and represent those that are like you to encourage others with similar identities to also feel free and to get rid of the guilt that many feel when initially figuring out who they are.
How important is it for people, especially women (GNC/GNB) to be aware of the political climate?
I believe that it is important for women to be aware of the political climate, especially those that are GNC/GNB because it affects them. The laws, policies, and rules that are made are limiting and discriminatory towards any type of person and affects the greater good of society. In the current political climate, the man running this country has many sexual assault cases against him, has used offensive language towards women, has made it clear that he is not in office to protect Trans rights, and is using his power to get rid of accessible birth control for women around the country. By allowing such a person to have great power over our bodies and our lives, it shows that our society does not hold women to the same standard and value us as much as any man. If we are not constantly shedding light on issues that concern us as women, then we are not doing our part. If we are not constantly demanding to be heard, then a portion of society is being taken advantage of and that is not okay. We need to be knowledgeable, aware and become activists within our small circles.
What does education mean to you as a woman of color?
Currently, at Temple University, I am co-president of an organization called “She’s The First” which is a national nonprofit that supports girls’ education in order for them to be the first in their family to graduate high school. Since joining this organization my freshman year and experiencing the college life, I definitely become more appreciative of the privilege I have for my accessibility to higher education and wish to support girls’ through my club in their journey to their own education. Although I am still thousands of dollars in debt, by just having the opportunity to attend school is a privilege especially as a woman of color in which years ago we had a different destiny of working at home and being maids. Additionally, I am appreciative of my parents' journey to America as immigrants from the Philippines in order for my life to be better and to experience opportunities they never had the chance to.
What is some advice do you have for people who are LGBTQ+ and still in the closet?
It’s okay to be a little bit lost and confused in life, there is no guidebook that is one size fits all. Part of the process is about figuring it out and having to go through the tough times of fear and doubt to eventually be able to feel the lightness and freedom of being true to yourself. For me, it just took some time to accept that mentally and once I did, I never looked back. It was like all the puzzle pieces were finally being placed in their rightful positions and the outcome is a beautiful picture. I also suggest taking your time. Of course, be aware of the environment you are in when coming out and make sure first that you are safe.
How do you feel about the amount of respect and representation Asians receive in the LGBTQ+ community?
I personally feel as though there is very little representation of Asians in the LGBTQ+ community. It is within the Asian culture that even discussing personal issues and concerns is not often done and therefore stems from the lack of representation. From what I’ve experienced, I have noticed a larger number of gay Asian men in the media when I watch The Filipino Channel with my parents, but I’ve seen little acknowledgment of lesbians and/or bisexuals. When I attended Philly Pride this past summer and I was walking around with some friends, this person called for LGBTQ+ Asians to fill out a survey. The person who handed me the iPad to fill out the survey said it was because there is very little data on LGBTQ+ Asians and they were trying to fill that lack of knowledge in the community. I have never thought about my own coming out processes as a way to better represent the other Asian LGBTQ+ individuals, but it makes sense to express that side of me more. Not only am I proud to be bisexual, but I am proud to be a bisexual Filipino-American.
Through your YouTube following, what do you hope to achieve and share?
My YouTube channel has gone through its own journey and transformation throughout the years; from making comedy skits, to sit down chatty videos, to vlogging, and now adding an element of my personal life by sharing my own thoughts and opinions. My hope, moving forward with my channel, is to share my struggles. Two videos that I am very proud of filming and making public were my coming out story and my life growing up Asian-America. No one ever wants to be viewed as less than and looking back at shameful times in my life is not something I would want to re-live, but I know from experience that spending my personal time on YouTube to search other people’s coming out videos and to connect myself with others who share similar experiences gives me the leverage to know that I am not alone. I would love to find the willpower in myself to discuss mental health as well and some of the issues I’ve gone through concerning that.
What has been your greatest achievement so far when it comes to activism? What do you stand for?
My greatest achievement so far when it comes to activism is first learning to be honest with myself and having the ability to share that side of me with the open internet. I have attended my fair share of marches, of hearing panels of women speak about empowerment, and of translating my activism into my student organization at school. I see activism as an everyday endeavor by being myself as a bisexual and as a WOC and showing those who I encounter every day that I represent those identities being who I am, saying what I feel, and standing up for those who unfortunately do not have a voice. I stand for freedom of self; having the ability to be you in any situation and to accept that. I stand for self-love; learning to maneuver the obstacles of life to figure out what you truly want for yourself. And and I stand for equality.