The following projects serve as samples of my LGBTQ advocacy,
starting with the oldest first.
It was in an 11th grade English class where I first shared my story about identifying within the LGBTQ community. The topic of gay authors came up and someone in the class said, “being gay is a choice.” Something in me SNAPPED and the next thing I know, the teacher sat back. Much to my surprise, I had the full attention of the class. It was an incredible discussion and sparked my LGBTQ speaking career.
I later ran and became president of the Taft High School GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) Club on campus during my senior year. We had the largest group to date, including several advocates to joined to practice allyship. We created a successful game fundraiser night and events such as our packed Day of Silence assembly, in which teachers signed up their classes for a local guest speaker to share her story and “break the silence”.
After having a successful run as President of the GSA in high school, I ran and won President of the Pierce Community College GSA. Over my time as both a participant and President, we successfully held fundraisers, phone banking for No On Prop 8, educational panels for students and staff, and more. It was a humbling experience finding a balance between social and political events to meet the needs of the group. In an attempt to branch out creatively, I developed and posted an awareness campaign around campus in partnership with the GSA.
2009 was the year I launched my professional speaking career. At some point, I saw an ad (Craigslist?) featuring graduate students who wanted to work on an LGBTQ project with youth from the community in partnership with a nonprofit, Lifeworks. After inquiring, I was able to nudge some friends to join me on the project and thus Project Trans Voices was born. We spent much time debating how we should proceed and I suggested a mock daytime show, featuring ads and street interviews. Please enjoy the three part series below featuring poor acting, questionable color correction, and cheesy sound effects. I created the intro graphics and music.
It was humbling to be named the 2009 Outstanding Youth Leadership Honoree by Christopher Street West Association, Inc., based on my leadership with the Pierce Community College GSA club. I was brought back in 2010 to be a parade float judge. Much to my surprise, they made an announcement that due to meeting me and learning more about the vastness of the transgender community, especially that there are folks who exist outside of the binary of male and female such as myself, they merged their respective “Woman of The Year” and “Man of the Year” awards to “Person of the Year”. I’m proud to say that they have since made numerous changes to embrace and empower the transgender community ever since.
The last big event for that year was being invited as a panelist for a conversation meant to bridge both the youth and elders of the LGBTQ community, hosted by the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board of West Hollywood, CA.
While I was finishing my bachelors and later graduate degree, I wrote for two organizations. They were both unique opportunities and I was able to spend time reflecting on my own life and the LGBTQ community overall. Lesbian News (LN) magazine gave me my own monthly column, of which I cherished and stepped down after almost 4 years. Christopher Street West Association, Inc. (hosts LA Pride in West Hollywood, CA) invited me to write 3 mini-articles leading up to pride, two of which are featured below. They also asked me to speak for their Pre-Parade Youth Press Conference.
TEEN LINE was excited to have an in-house employee with extensive LGBTQ knowledge in order to produce an “LGBTQ 101” video for youth. Having learned a great deal from the video project of 2009, I am incredibly proud of what we accomplished. It continues to be used by middle and high school classes all over Southern California and beyond, including YouTube plays, DVD purchases, and in-person presentations. It’s also deeply personal, as it features places and people from key moments of my youth who helped to shape who I am today.
At some point, I found out about The Dark Place, a podcast about mental health by Joel Kutz. I was honored to be a guest twice; once to promote TEEN LINE’s work with youth and later to share my own story.
Safe to say 2015 was the year of podcasts? Michael John Simpson and Kitty Brown, by way of a mutual friend, invited me onto their podcast, The Something Something Experience. Way more loose and fun, we talked heavy topics like long-time friends, despite only having met at that very moment.
Daniel and I met while in graduate school. He created his project, Feelings & Stuff, with a friend and colleague of his. Feelings & Stuff is a web series where two psychotherapists, Daniel Lyman and Christie Uipi, talk about feelings. And stuff. He asked me if I would be a guest on the show to talk “trans 101” of sorts. Check out the unscripted fun below.