grow up, get out is a series of personal reflections by queer American designers, published daily this month.
I come from a very conservative rural part of California in the San Joaquin Valley, and the town I grew up in was mostly immigrant – very traditionally Mexican and very traditionally Catholic – and in the 70s the community had a very straight vibe. Insults were prevalent throughout my daily life, so I didn’t really identify as gay because it was so taboo. I just said to myself, Alright, there’s something very different about me that can’t be revealed to anyone. I isolated myself from my culture and those around me, and in the long run, even though there was pain associated with that, it really helped me become who I am. I think if I had grown up in a more queer welcoming world like the one we have today – which is wonderful – I don’t know if my own queer identity would have been so much a part of my work.
After high school, I went through this very weird exploratory phase of my life where I traveled a lot on my own. I went to Jamaica for a while, then New York and Boston, and ended up in New Orleans for a bit and fell in love for the first time, which kind of solidified my state of mind. ‘spirit. I was on a spiritual journey – talking to priests and monks in a convent – that made me realize that this is who I am. And I loved it.
As I matured and began to take my career seriously, I recalled some of the ideas of civil rights that were incorporated into my upbringing. I’m biracial, and my parents came through the civil rights movement, and my family always felt very strongly that we should fight for equality. I brought the queer aspect to it and started advocating for human rights on race, ethnicity and sexuality. I think in today’s space sexuality is political and staff – and it’s beautiful.