Juliette part three: The Victorian Era dress

Victorian dress

Today concludes our three-part feature of Juliette. This woman is an amazement to me. She has an entire room in her house full of fun costumes she has made. It was clearly hard for her to pick just three for our three-part feature.

We decided to stick within a color theme of light pinks and blues. We also thought it would be fun to travel through time. It’s crazy how much fashion changed in less than 100 years.

We started with the Civil War era, moved on to the late 1890’s and are concluding with this lovely gown from the Victorian/Edwardian Era. Think the beginning of Downton Abbey. She entirely re-did this entire dress and made it her own.

Victorian dress

All of our three-part features conclude with a Q&A. Here is her’s:

Name: Juliette Tebeau Bezold

Location: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area

Occupation: Interior Designer at GBBN Architects

In her spare time, she’s a part of the Ohio Renaissance Festival, the Old West Festival, the Wandering Minstrel Theatre Troupe and the Horehounds Burlesque, an offshoot of the Wandering Minstrels. She and her husband have also traveled all over for vintage dance weeks and weekends.

How long have you been into costuming?

I can barely remember not being into costuming. When I was six, my mom took me to my first musical, which was Oklahoma. By seven I was in my first musical. I was a royal child in The King and I. And so at that point on from the age of seven, I was completely obsessed with period costumes. With hoop skirts and corsets in particular because of Anna in The King and I.

When did you start making your own costumes?

I made my first first costume properly sewn on a sewing machine when I was 13.

Victorian dress

That’s so neat that you’re a working professional and then do this on the side. Do your coworkers find it interesting at all?

Yes they do, actually. I was walking in the Reds Opening Day Parade with the group from the Old West Festival and so I changed into my costume at the office since I work downtown. Everyone thought that was pretty funny and I took a picture there at my cubicle.

So what got you into history and costuming?

It all goes back when I was seven and I was in The King and I. That was a turning point in my life. I became obsessed with costumes from that point on. I wanted a hoop skirt, I wanted a corset. I made my first communion in the same weekend as the play, so I saved all my first communion money and all my birthday money, and my mother took me to a second hand bridal salon and bought me a hoop skirt and a second hand size three bridal gown. She cut it down for me and I played with that thing until it was ribbons. I still have it for her (daughter) to play with one day.

Victorian dress

So at the time it was the pure wonderment of it all?

Honestly for me, it’s a little more than that. It’s about how the costume transforms you. How it makes you feel. Like I’m someone prettier or richer. It’s that character and becoming someone else. I mean why does any woman put on a face that’s not hers? I feel in my costumes more special than in anything else.

So it’s just fun getting to be someone else?

Yes. And it’s also just being a part of history. Like with The King and I, Anna Leonowens was a real person. I had my mother track down the two-inch book Anna and the King of Siam so I could read it because I was so fascinated that she was a real person. From that point on, I just read the pages of the Encyclopedia over and over again about Queen Elizabeth, Mary Queen of Scotts, Marie Antoinette … all these famous women who had beautiful dresses who I became obsessed with but also had really interesting stories and lives. I think that’s why I love the Renaissance Era so much because I was fascinated from that age.

It’s a way you connected with women and women throughout history.

Exactly. And before the Internet and before people with quirky obsessions had a way to connect with each other, theatre was the only outlet for that. So I got into theatre because it was the only way I could express my desire to make costumes and portray women throughout history.

Do you ever give thought to the role women had throughout these time periods and how that’s changed?

Oh absolutely! And it’s interesting because I feel that a lot of my sewing skills and talent is just intrinsic and a part of me. I feel that that has just come to me from an ancestor. My great grandfather was a tailor. He was a man, not a woman, but that was his profession. He immigrated from Poland in the early 1900’s and he died when I was six months old. I feel that my sewing ability just came. It’s just a part of me that I need to express. I do think about women as I make my costumes. All that I can do on a machine, they had to do by hand. Really the tailor’s skill was a man’s job. The famous dress designers of the Victorian Era were men. There were female houses, but it was still a man’s world.

Victorian dress

What does being a woman mean to you?

What does being a woman mean to me? Women create. Men can create too, but it’s part of what convinces me that God must be a woman because I think it’s just part of me to create. If you look at women throughout history, we were the ones creating the home, creating the hearth, creating the food and creating life. To me, it’s all interrelated and I can’t not make things. It is so much a part of who I am. I often think as I’m making things like this is … I guess God’s the word I have for it. But if that’s the divine to create, then it’s in God’s image and therefore all interrelated.

Anything else you want to add?

I will say that I love making the under garments just as much as I love making the dresses. I love corsetry, and working with steal and leather. It’s empowering. That actually is a point I would like to make is there’s this myth that corsets were somehow something that enslaved women. That they were painful or it was part of what kept women down. I want to not dispel that myth. That is not true. There’s no historical evidence that women ever had their ribs removed. There was a large amount of Victorian Era fetish writing or Victorian porn, if you want to take it at that. That’s where a lot of these things about removed ribs or 13-inch waits came from.

In reality, you ordered a corset from a catalog by it’s actual measurement. So if you ordered a 16-inch corset, it might measure 16 inches, but when you put it on and laced it, it might give you a 20-inch waist because you wanted to have a gap in the back. A lot of these things are myths. I can tell you right now that they are not uncomfortable. My corset takes off four-five inches off my natural waist. I sing and dance, sometimes simultaneously. I couldn’t do that if I couldn’t breathe. Women did all their daily chores in them. It was their foundation garment. Without a corset, you’d be unsupported. It would have been uncomfortable.

Yeah, because they didn’t make bras back then.

Exactly! There were no bras back then. The pretty housemaid corset, which was a model that was pretty popular in England, sold tens of thousands of units. Housemaids wanted it because they were the pretty housemaid in it. And if you were a housemaid, you were doing hard physical labor. I just want to dispel the myth that corsets are uncomfortable or an oppressive garment. That is not the case. Corsets were something that made you feel as beautiful back then as a beautiful matching bra and panty set would make you feel today.

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Today I’m linking up with:



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What it means to be a woman

So I’ll admit it. International Women’s Day just snuck up on me. I woke up this morning to a bunch of Facebook status updates about the day. As a blogger who blogs about women’s empowerment, I should have been more on my game. Such is life. I’m going to put it in my Google calendar for next year.

While getting ready for work, I thought about what I would write. Then, it dawned on me. Instead of me talking about womanhood, I’d let others do it for me. Since starting this blog in the fall, I’ve interviewed countless women of all different walks of life. I always ask them the same question: What does being a woman mean to you? Here’s a collection of what some of them have said.


LaMonica Sherman

“I think women, we naturally have a nurturing spirit and we’re more sensitive, most of the time, to situations than men is. It is what is is. That’s how God created us. Men are get to the point people. Women are “I want to understand. I want to listen and I want to show you that I care.” So being a woman is, not that men don’t care, but I think we show another side of us. We bring another definition of caring, another definition of nurturing and another definition of God.”


Kelly McAndrews

“You know like having a vagina and having breasts (laughs). And like having a menstrual cycle and like the ability to have children. I don’t know, I think deep down it’s a like blessing but also a curse. Like we have something to prove as a race but at the same time we have so many gifts that we can exploit and put out into the world. Like we’re all beautiful and talented.”


Nahara Saballos

“I think I’ve learned from my mom that being a woman means that you have to be strong. Even though people don’t see us as very strong physically, I think women in Nicaragua and in the world have to endure a lot of things just to survive and get by. I think that being a woman to me means being resilient. Definitely a survivor. We are the backbone of community organizing. Any type of progress is usually carried out by women, even if they’re not noted as such. I’m really grateful to be a woman because there’s so much I can learn from other women here and from my mom.”



Lauren Gabbard

“Being a woman to me shows that I have a support structure for things that were making me uncomfortable throughout my life that I didn’t know about before. For instance, being made fun of for certain things in elementary school or issues of violence. I’ve had some violent experiences in my life at the hands of men and just knowing that were all in this together. Women have not always been oppressed and it means that we don’t always need to be. It’s a good part of my identity. I will hang out with pretty much any woman. You don’t have to be on your guard. But a man, you don’t know if they’re going to say something really sexist or try to hit on you inappropriately.

Being a queer woman or a bisexual woman makes me feel like I belong to this legacy of awesome women throughout history that I can always band together with.”


Catherine Daniels

“Being a woman for me is being the backbone to life. We are the nurturers. We are the ones everybody goes to. I’m a grandma and I have a little granddaughter. The first thing she does when she sees me is she sticks her hands out wanting fingernail polish. She’s only one and a half, and she already feels empowered as a little girl to feel girly. We have kind of dismissed the whole culture of wearing dresses. When I was younger, my very southern grandmother would dress me in frilly dresses. The frillier, the better. The lace, the crinoline … it was almost disgusting it was so girly. It just felt good to be in a dress. I’m glad I can share that with my granddaughter.”


Faith Mueller

“I think that being a woman means to me is you have to be your own person. At the end of the day, you’re only going to look yourself in the mirror. It’s just going to be you and yourself. Our society tries to tell women what they should be like, and that’s on both sides of the spectrum. What should a woman be like? You have to be yourself and you have to love yourself, and be your own biggest advocate. That’s important.”


There were many other women who had incredible things to say on womanhood. Happy International Women’s Day!

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Jazmin and the Mexican dress

Hi all! Welcome to part three of our photoshoot with Jazmin. This part includes a short interview with some hard-hitting questions. This is one of my favorite parts of featuring different people each week. Everyone has such interesting things to say about womanhood, dresses and anything else life.

Mexican dress

I absolutely love this dress. Jazmin is originally from Mexico City, Mexico, and bought this dress there. It was designed to be worn to the wonderful beaches of Mexico. As many of you know, I want to travel the entire world. I hope to explore Mexico one day. Many of my clients at Su Casa Hispanic Center (my day job) are from Mexico. As with any place, they have a mixture of good and less good things to say. The food, though, is one thing I think we can all agree is simply amazing.

This dress, though, is amazing! It is so super unique! I love anything colorful!

Mexican dress

Mexican dress

Mexican dress

Mexican dress

Okay now with the questions:

Name: Jazmin Ojeda

Age: “I’m forever 28”

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio; originally from Mexico City, Mexico

Profession: Engineer

What was that like coming to the United States at first?

It was difficult. It was fun because you come to another country, but it’s difficult to get adapted to the weather, the language and the people. It’s a shock. But then you just … you know. You learn as you go.

Do you have any funny stories from when you first came here of things you didn’t understand or said wrong?

So I went to the drive-though with my brother, because I learned some English in high school, but it’s not the same. And I couldn’t understand anything and I couldn’t place my order. So then I decided to apply for a job at Burger King because that’s where we went through the drive-through. And I’m thinking maybe I can just work in the kitchen. So they put me in the front and for the first three days I was like “what do I do?” I didn’t know how to give change. I didn’t know like nothing. So like this guy came in and said “can I have a hamburger with everything on it but onion?” And I thought “but onion? What does that mean?” Actually I had to go and ask someone “what does it mean when you say ‘but something?” So things like that would happen to me every day. So that’s how I pretty much learned.

Yeah you learn from making those mistakes. Very cool. So what are you most passionate about in life?

I like learning. So for example I became an engineer because learning to me is easy. I think I can learn anything I want to. If I read something, I will grasp it right away. Engineering is difficult. It’s a lot of thinking and it’s a lot of mathematics. When I’m solving a problem, I just get into my own world. Working with numbers just gets me lost. So it’s like a passion. I can just kill time doing some sort of problem or resolving something, and next thing you know it relaxes me. And getting an answer or the right thing just feels like a huge accomplishment.

What does being a woman mean to you?

It is kind of hard being a woman but it is the most precious gift that a human being can have. Only women can understand things that humanity won’t. We are able to give birth. We could do anything that any other man can … probably even better. We’re capable of multitasking, bearing pain, being as smart as we want to be, seductive … we have all kinds of tools that it is just amazing. I think that there is a lot of bad things about being a woman too, but the good things are just like … it’s like a pandora box. We’re full of surprises. To me, that’s a blessing.

How does wearing a dress make you feel?

I feel that I have power because I’m coming back to being a woman and using my womanhood to express myself. It depends on the dress. You could dress up for the office and it makes you feel more confident and more intelligent. It’s just your femininity but also what you represent. So wearing the dress to me is like being a little kid and a woman at the same time … it’s like an illusion.


Jazmin could not pick just three dresses for our shoot. This fourth one was also amazing. She got it from BCBG to be the matron of honor in her sister’s wedding. We decided to keep warm and take these photos in the living room.

Mexican dress

Mexican dress

Mexican dress

Mexican dress

Me gustan los dos vestidos mucho! I liked both dresses a lot!

Thank you Jazmin for everything!

Also linking up with:

Not Dead Yet Style, More Pieces of Me, Sincerely Jenna Marie



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Jazmin’s work dress

Welcome to part two of this week’s Woman of the Week series featuring Jazmin, a working professional originally from Mexico but living in Cincinnati. I love featuring different women on the blog because I get to see what dresses they choose. I always tell people that I love being a blogger because I get to be the media. The media tells women what they should look like and how they dress. Yet with A World of Dresses, I let the women I feature define what my blog tells the world.

So today we take a look at what Jazmin normally wears to her job as an engineer (click here to see our Monday post about her lacey dress).


Bienvenidos a la segunda parte de La Mujer de la Semana! Esta semana es sobre Jazmin, una mujer de Mexico, actualmenta vive en Los Estados Unidos con su esposo, graduada de la facultad de Ingeneria.

En lo personal me gusta escribir sobre diferentes mujeres cada semana porque me llama la atencion ver que vestidos ellas eligen.

Muchas veces los medios de comunicacion nos dicen como debemos vestir o parecer. Pero en mi blog A World of Dresses las mujeres de quienes escribo definen el mensaje que desean le llegue a todo el mundo.

A professional little black dress

work dress


work dress

work dress

work dress

Dress: Ann Taylor (similar) Shoes: made in Mexico (similar) Purse: similar

I am just in love with everything about this outfit! I love the neckline. It takes what would otherwise be a plain lbd and turns it into something stylish yet professional. I also tend to prefer heels like this with a strap over the top. They have a very classic and polished look. Plus red simply makes an outfit pop.

Thank you for reading! Our third and final feature of Jazmin will be this Saturday. I am so very excited to show you the other two dresses she chose!

Linking up with Jersey Girl Texan Heart, The Pleated Poppy, Pumps and Pushups, Shopping My Closet

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LaMonica: the strong servant in Winton Terrace


Last Monday, I ventured down to Winton Terrace to interview LaMonica Sherman, the Program Manager of St. Vincent DePaul’s satellite office in Winton Terrace. A low-income housing community that has a reputation for being dangerous is who she and her office serves each day. Yet the several times I’ve visited, I’ve felt nothing but welcome from everyone. I initially met LaMonica with her friends from Sister Circle, a women’s support group that she facilities. Their group performed a show of a mixture of song and story-telling. I loved how empowering the group is, so I just had to speak with them and LaMonica. LaMonica is someone who has been right where her clients have been. She herself is a single mother who has experienced poverty. On Monday, we discussed poverty and the mindset that people in poverty are in, amongst other things.

Name: LaMonica Sherman
Age: 44
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Where are you in life right now? I know you work as the Program Manager for the St. Vincent DePaul Winton Hills satellite office. What does life look like right now for LaMonica?

I am going through the Cincinnati Chamber’s We Lead program this year. I graduate from that June next year. Part of the program is to really help you get to whatever your next is. So what life look like for LaMonica right now is things that I always desired to do that I was gifted to do, to be able to explore those things. Like just before this month ends, I have four songs that I have written patented. So I’m looking to put that on a CD. Also I’ve been with St. Vincent DePaul for 16 years, so I’m really trying to … its been a lot of transitional changes here and I’m trying to really get clarity of what my next is.

Wow, sixteen years. How did you get connected with St. Vincent DePaul sixteen years ago?

Well sixteen years ago, my kids was very young. I have a 20-year-old and a 24-year-old. So my daughter was four and my son was eight, and I was still receiving assistance from Hamilton County. At that time I was working for Winton Hills Neighborhood House. I was the secretary at their East End site. I did holiday programs. I did the emergency food pantry and secretarial work. So I was only making seven dollars and 50 cent an hour, and I was looking for a way to make more money and get off of Hamilton County assistance. So I saw this job opening and I applied for it, and I was chosen for it. So since I’ve been here, I’ve been promoted twice. I started off as the supervisor downtown and then I started out here about nine years ago as the program manager. This is their first satellite office. So when I started at St. Vincent DePaul, of course my supervisor put me over all the holiday programs. When I first started here, the Adopt a Family program, it was not even 100 families getting adopted. I did that for 12 years and the last year I did that, it was over 500 families that I was able to get adopted. Plus out of that program came the Shop with the Bengals program.

Oh yeah, Shop with the Bengals! I saw that actually on your Facebook! So you get Bengals players to shop with children for Christmas?

Yes they spend $300 on each child. So this year, they did 50 kids.

Then the rest of the Adopt a Family program, does that come from different donors?

Different donors and sponsors. I grew a real good relationship with my sponsors and so they would just share with family, friends, people they work with and every year I would get more and more families. Our Angel Toy program … we have about six Christmas programs that we do. One of them, they do downtown. The Angel Toy  Program. I was the pioneer for that program. Sacred Hart. So a lot of the holiday programs that we do, the Lord blessed me to lay the foundation where they still run today.


A closer look at her outfit

Very cool. I was reading in your WCPO story that you’re someone who has been there. You’ve been right there where a lot of the people you work with are. Being a single parent and having been low-income in the past. How do you feel like having that experience impacts your work?

It impacts because I’m able to relate and really understand. Not just understand what a person is going through, but I’m able to understand some of the root causes; some of the strongholds that people that are single parents and even guys, that people face that live in poverty.

What do you think are some of the biggest root causes or strongholds? What are some things too that people who haven’t experienced this don’t see or are their misconceptions?

This is one of my favorite quotes: when people know better, they do better. A lot of times when you are poverty, certain things you’re not exposed to. You’re not exposed to budgeting your money because there’s really no money. You look at it like you don’t have any money to budget. And if it’s been from generations. If you have families or parents that live from paycheck to paycheck. Because not everybody have been on assistance, but some people are in poverty, they just have a generation where people just had jobs where it was just living from paycheck to paycheck. Nobody was taught how to budget. Nobody was taught how to save; how to invest. I just found this out from one of my classmates in We Lead. She shared how for her niece and nephew for their birthday, she don’t do anything for them. She gives them $25 on a money CD. I never was exposed to that and most people in poverty are not exposed to investing because you live in the now. You live in survival mode. You’re not looking towards the future. You’re looking to now. What do I got to do right now? How am I to pay this bill right now? How am I gonna get my rent paid right now?

And then when you do have some extra, you’re excited. You’re going to spend it.

And you know you get your tax income check, most people in poverty the first thing they talk about is getting a car, getting furniture and stuff like that. It’s still living in the now, you know. And then buying a cute outfit, you know! Especially for women, you know. Me, I’ve always worked even when I was a teenager, so I always loved to dress.

Yeah, me too. So what are some of the other strongholds that keep people in poverty?

Strongholds is like a lot of people in poverty sometimes the people that they are connected to is more toxic than supportive than encouraging and pushing. You have people who have the same type of mindset. And if somebody is trying to do something different, then you have a lot of people instead of encouraging talk more negative. Like that’s not gonna happen. I think it was Tasha that said in the performance, “you’re never gonna amount to nothing. That ain’t gonna work.”

Do you find that that’s a mixture of jealousy a little bit and also just like it hasn’t happened for them, so why would it happen for anyone else?

Yes! And sometimes in poverty unless you’re in a good … what helped me was that I was blessed to get in a good, solid church. When I got exposed to a relationship with God and got exposed to what faith is. Faith is the things hoped for but yet not seen. So when I griped hold of faith in God, that’s when my imagination of what I could do, where I could be and that things are not always going to be like this. That’s when it happened.

So you were talking about the toxic environments. Now you’ve started Sister Circle. How long has that been around?

Sister Circle has been around for seven years now.

LaMonica singing with Sister Circle

So yeah tell me about starting it and what it is today.

When I first started Sister Circle, of course free food is always the key to get people out no matter who they are. And so I made a flyer about a women’s support group. So when I first started, it was between 12-13 women who came. The first session we had, I wrote words down. Some words was like friendship. Some was like foregiveness. Some hope, love. Some was prosperity, faith. I can’t remember all of them, but everyone had to pick a word. Each person when they picked their word explained to us what that word means to you or where you at in your life with that word. This when I knew this group was going to be so impactful to me and each other. One of the ladies, the word she picked was friends. When she picked friends, she started crying and she started saying her mom was her best friend. Her mom had, it had not been a whole year since her mom passed away. So she expressed what she was going through. The another person in the group shared her testimony with her about how her momma had died about three years ago and she know what she’s going through. Sister Circle, the age start at 16 on up to 87. So then there was a senior in the group who poured into her. So everyone just wanted to encourage her. So stopped in that moment, she was the center focus and we all just started encouraging her. So after everyone encouraged her in the group, I went and hugged her and prayed for her.

So that’s how it started in the beginning. What Sister Circle is now is a group of women that comes together and we’re still supporting. St. Vincent DePaul, we support the people in the group but the group support each other … When I started Sister Circle, it was probably one or two people that was volunteering in the community. 98% of the group now is community involved.

I feel like what the group has become is a place of a making of a leader. I see leaders in the group now. They’re leading, whether they’re leading something in the community, they’re leading something at church. It has birthed and reproduced I would say I was able to duplicate what I was able to do in the women and now they’re duplicating into other people. So it’s just continuing duplication of leadership.

So you talked about using your gifts. What do you think your strongest gifts are?

Well my strongest gift is prayer. My second gift is serving people. I love serving.


And you do that all day here. What does your day to day look like here?

Well we help people with rent and utilities during the week. During the week, we help with vouchers to go to our store, birth certificates. So I do all our emergency assistance. I’m always seeking ways to grow professionally. Not only am I taking classes through We Lead, but I’m doing national seminars, webinars and live workshops here in the city. So I continue to educate myself so I can go to whatever that next level is.

What does being a woman mean to you?

Being a woman to me, number one, means being pritzy. Keeping your hair done. Looking cute like a princess and being able to have that spirit of nurturing. I think women, we naturally have a nurturing spirit and we’re more sensitive, most of the time, to situations than men is. It is what is is. That’s how God created us. Men are get to the point people. Women are “I want to understand. I want to listen and I want to show you that I care.” So being a woman is, not that men don’t care, but I think we show another side of us. We bring another definition of caring, another definition of nurturing and another definition of God.

Anything you want to add?

I believe God has created us all with God-given gifts. And whatever gift we have is not just for us. It’s to edify one another. When people begin to understand that more, I think we’ll have less people being jealous, less people criticizing and less people trying to sabatoge or pull someone else down. We’re all on the road of life. We all make mistakes. We all have challenges. We all have battles … If I was to encourage somebody, I’d say no matter where you are in your life, no matter what challenges you face, keep moving. Keep moving because the race is not given to the swift or the strong, but to those who endure til the end. And anybody that has any successful life will tell you that they experienced failure. That’s how they learned success. So I would just encourage people to live your dreams, know you can live them and that with God, all things are possible.

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Q&A: Kelly the comedian


This week, I decided to interview my improv pal Kelly. I’m in an improv troupe called Highly Improvable and she’s currently the Assistant Director. We have show Friday, December 11th. You should go. In other news, this may have been the funniest interview/photo shoot I’ve done thus far for A World of Dresses.

  • Name: Kelly McAndrews
  • Age: 23
  • Location: Cincinnati/Lebanon, Ohio
  • Graduated from BGSU
  • Majored in film studies, minored in French

How did you get involved in improv? It started in college, right?

Yeah my friends did long-form and I went to the first show, I think, freshman year. I feel really bad saying this, but I was like “I can do that so much better than they can!” So I got involved the next year with that. I didn’t know there were rules to improv. I just thought I was going on a stage and like pretending. That’s why I was like, “I can do this way better than anyone else! I love make believe.” And then I got on there and there were rules, and you have to learn to really respect your scene partner and stuff like that. So it was like oh, this is like an actual craft you have to learn. So that was a blast.

You just thought you jumped up there and started talking.

Yeah seriously. Because the way that they did it was the armando form which is where you do a monologue first and then you go into an act. The way that they did their monologues were a lot like standup routines. They were always making people laugh, so I was like “I love standup! I’ve been watching standup since I was a little kid! I can do this perfectly! I would love it!” But it was a lot harder than I thought.

Have you ever done standup?

Three times in my life (laughs).

Is it something you like or do you like sticking with improv more?

I mean I love it because you control it yourself and you don’t really have to depend on another person to like support you. Like in a scene you have to. But you think it’s going to be just you talking to a crowd and them laughing at you, but there’s so much work that goes behind it. Like you have to write enough to have meat of an argument or a funny story that you have to tell. And then you also have to have it memorized so well so that you’re not standing up there sweating like “Oh, let me check my notes! Ohhh, sorry!” It’s kind of tough. But improv is a lot more like a carnival. You just go and explore different things.


Like a carnival. I like that!


So this was your sophomore year of college that you started going to improv. So I would imagine that that’s probably four years now that you’ve been doing it.

Yes. Maybe it was my junior year. Oh, I don’t remember.

So three or four years.

Yeah because I watched a lot of them and I hung out with those guys so much that I think I auditioned junior year.

So you had to audition to be in your college improv group?


What was that process like?

It was kind of weird, I guess because there were a lot of people like me who didn’t know there were rules. Like comedy standards you had to uphold, so you could get anywhere from people just standing with cold feet like “I have no idea what I’m doing!” and then other people who had been through the audition process already and were already in the group and were made to audition again. They were phenomenal, so you had different kinds of talent, I guess.

Yeah. Was that scary a little bit?

The first time it was. I was made to audition again because I wasn’t like a regular member the next year, so I went through those audition processes a couple of times. By a certain point I was comfortable and I was already friends with everyone before I actually went into it. So it was easier for me because I had that experience with those people already and I could see the way their groups worked, so I could kind of take that style for myself. But it was scary. Every audition process is scary, I think.

Yeah absolutely. There’s always that possibility that it’s not going to work out, which is scary in and of itself.


What keeps you coming back to improv?

The fact that there is so much variety, and that you can get such a variety of players and audiences. Also a difference in creativity. Like certain people will come out of left field with something that really creates a challenge for you. That’s what I like when I’m presented with people who have a completely different comedy style than my own and I have to kind of adapt to that. But then you also get people who have been your friends for years and you can go up on stage and know that it’s going to be hilarious every time. So you really work up trust and friendship.

Yeah! It’s like a team.

Yeah exactly.

Now that you’ve been at this for a bit, are there any sorts of practices that you take with you? Or any sorts of things you do in a scene to save yourself if it’s not going well?

One thing that my very first troupe director told me was “You go on stage and your job is to make the other person look as good as possible. And if that person goes on stage knowing that their job is to make you look as good as possible, then it’s going to be great every single time.” So if I have a scene that’s failing, I’ll turn it around and try to explore the relationship between me and whoever is on stage with me. Or I’ll try and add some new element to the scene to take it a different direction. It’s all about trust and all about joy, I guess. You can’t take out your anger and frustration on your scene partner. You have to show them that you still believe in the scene.

Yeah so it all comes back to that teamwork and that whole idea of “yes and!” where you’re accepting what they throw out.


So I know you got involved in Highly Improvable through your brother Ryan who was a member and now lives in Boston. So yeah, now you’re a post-college graduate. Do you see any differences between our group and what you did in college?

Yeah absolutely because Highly Improvable is a teaching troupe, first and foremost. So we are so much more accepting of everything whereas back in college, we did have an audition process in the first place, so it was kind of elitist. Like “Well if you’re not the best, you can’t get in.” But here all the focus is on learning and growing together. I really like that open environment a lot more. Because I did have conflicts with people in college, like with players I just didn’t gel with. It was all about “We gotta be the best! We gotta be the best!” because there were four troupes on campus, I think. So we were friendly with each other but we were always like in competition with each other to be the best. That was a lot more pressureist … that’s not a word (laughs). It’s an environment of pressure, I guess.

Yeah so do you find that the environment we have in Highly Improvable creates community for everybody? Everyone just seems to get along well.

Yeah yeah. I think our issue is the distance. If we were closer to the city center, then we would have so much more … the rest of the Cincinnati improv community would be able to join in and year about us and stuff like that. But the troupe that we do have right now seems to gel real well. We’re kind of feeling each other’s strengths and weaknesses. So we’re all kind of learning together.


What has improv taught you?

More than anything to listen because I used to be one of the people who would wait to talk. It’d be like “Oh yeah great. Here’s my opinion.” But now I try to seek out what another is … I guess their essence. What they want to be and why they’re talking about what they’re talking about. I try to pay attention. I’ve become more observant as well.

So you feel like these things are things you carry with you over into your every day life outside of improv?

Yeah. And there’s also the concept of what you were saying, yes and! Half of it is accepting what happens and the other half is adding to what happens. So you can sort of apply that philosophy to any aspect of life. You have to accept what’s going on, whether it’s some sort of turmoil or good thing, and then you have to contribute to making it better or escalating it, if that makes sense. So just being part of the fun and taking it up a notch.

Yeah. Do you have any examples of ways that you’ve used “Yes and!” in your everyday life?

I think more often than not, in daily conversation, I try make people laugh in conversation. So like if I have a bit going on with somebody, it’s just a question of like adding and adding to whatever it is that we’re talking about. For example I have a friend and we talk about goblins a lot. It’s so stupid. We talk about goblins working because we work at a cafe together. So goblins just mess up stuff in the cafe. And then we keep adding to like “Oh, it’s Peter the goblin. He’s done something again.”

Tell me about your transition to becoming director. Everyone who becomes director starts out as assistant director. What made you decide to go that route?

The first reason I wanted to be assistant director is because I love running warmups. That’s all I wanted to do. Just run warmups. But I knew that it came with the commitment of becoming director and I just assumed I would learn it in this period. I don’t feel super prepared, but once again it’s a learning curve. I just have to dive in and hope that I’m doing what’s expected of me for the troupe. Right now I’m kind of trying to establish myself as a link between Harrison and the rest of us. So like if anybody in the troupe has problems, they can come to me. Which it has kind of happened, in a way. I feel a lot more authoritative than I did. But once again a lot less like one of the cool kids.

Yeah you have to lay down the law.

Yeah like I’m not the class clown anymore. I’m the teacher, which is weird.


How do you feel about becoming director?

It’s terrifying. Mostly my biggest concern right now is what present to get for Harrison when he’s not director anymore. That’s my biggest concern. He’s not a girl. He won’t like flowers, probably. Probably a gift card. I’ll get him a gift card and have everybody sign the card. But he’s been the one who gets cards for everyone when they leave. I’m like “Man, that’s my least favorite part of this. I have to go buy cards for everyone when they leave.”

Well the thing with Harrison is that he’s quite possibly one of the nicest guys in the entire world, so if you get him something he hates he’ll probably just be like “Oh, it’s great!”

I will now take extra effort to get him something that he does hate and I’ll try to catch him in the act of returning it (we both laughed … a lot).

So how does it feel to be a female comedian?

My personal experience hasn’t really be shaped by my oppression as a female. It’s kind of been more like a celebration of the fact. In the few standup bits that I did, the troupes that I was in that were integrated, because I was in one that was all female, I never really felt excluded because of the whole trope that women aren’t funny. I more so felt like people were trying to include my presence and other females involved in our troupes because we were women and because we did have talent and we wanted to be showcased.

So for you, it’s super empowering to be up there as a woman and be like “Yeah!”?

Yeah I love it. And my thing is that improv is so fluid that you can step on stage and it doesn’t matter who you are. What matters is what you become when you’re on stage. So I play men. I play women. I try to switch up my identity as much as possible because there is that whole thing of character work. Like you have to be good at switching between characters in the first place. But I mean that could be as simple as just changing your voice. But I really try to step outside of the box and be as many different identities as possible.

What advice would you give to female comics or females interested in getting into comedy?

Be as big and boisterous and rude as you dare to be. Honestly, like tell dick jokes, tell vagina jokes. Whatever things people have told you not to say, because an audience will respect you for going there nine times out of ten and they’ll remember you for it, honestly.


What does being a woman mean to you?

You know like having a vagina and having breasts (laughs). And like having a menstrual cycle and like the ability to have children. I don’t know, I think deep down it’s a like blessing but also a curse. Like we have something to prove as a race but at the same time we have so many gifts that we can exploit and put out into the world. Like we’re all beautiful and talented.

What do you think are some of women’s strongest gifts?

Our fierceness. Like if you are faced with hardship, I think it’s natural to want to run away. But as women, we are all so strong.

Is there anything else you want to add?

Yes, and!

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Che the traveler from China


I met Che about a year ago through her husband Daniel who tutored me in Spanish. The two of them have the most fascinating story. Che grew up in China and decided to get her undergraduate degree in Malaga, Spain. While Daniel got his undergraduate degree in Cincinnati, he studied in Spain for about nine months. Some how the two connected on Facebook and began chatting. Now Che has made her second big move to the United States to marry Daniel. She currently works at a logistics company and is getting settled into her new life in the US. I knew her experience with so many different cultures would make for a very interesting interview.

Jing Che Braun
Age: 26
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio. Grew up in Chongqing, China.

What made you decide to attend college in Spain?

I just felt like I wanted a different life. I don’t know. So after I graduated high school, I said I want to study abroad and I just picked Spain because I wanted to see the world.

What was that like when you first arrived in Spain?

I was so excited because it was a different world for me and I never traveled out of China. So the destination was the South of Spain. I learned a little bit of Spanish before I went to Spain. I prepared a little bit, but it was still so difficult because the first city I got to in Spain was in the South of Spain. Everybody speaks so much faster than the people in the North and they have a strong accent. I just could not understand. I don’t know. But I was still very happy. I didn’t care. I just felt like I’m going to start my new life here. I was excited and happy, and not scared at all. I was just excited.

So were you looking at other countries or was it just Spain?

After I graduated high school, I needed to pick a college in China and I just didn’t feel like I wanted to go to college in China. So one day I was just reading a newspaper, and there was something about Spain and contacting them to get more information. So I took it to my mom and said “How about Spain?” And she said “What?” So we went together to that place and they gave us more information about how this worked. I didn’t really care where I went. I just wanted to go out of China. Japan, USA, Korea, France … but I just saw Spain just accidentally.

So you got there and everyone was speaking fast. What was the hardest part of moving to a new country?

I think the hardest part in the beginning of course is the language. You cannot understand them really well but you really want to talk with them and get involved in that culture. But little by little. The most difficult thing I think is missing your family. Because I’m the only child for my parents, I just missed them, I missed my girlfriends and everything. But when I first got to Spain, I was so excited and I didn’t miss them much. But year after year of living there, because I lived there for five years, I just missed them … Also in Chinese culture, family is so important. Every year I have two months to spend with them. The summer vacation. The winter vacation is very short, so I didn’t go back to China.


So what did you learn from moving to Spain? What did it teach you?

I really think that that five years was the most important. It was very important for me because I’m just a normal Chinese girl looking for a good college and good job. Going to Spain totally changed my life. If I had never been to Spain I would have never met Daniel, I would never speak Spanish and I would never meet so many people from different cultures. It was just so cool. It made me feel special and unique.

That’s cool! What did you learn from the people you met from other cultures?

I think most of them were very friendly. It was really cool to get to know their culture … It is so easy to get in contact with people from other cultures because the city where I was living, Malaga, it’s a really popular place for people to have vacation because the weather is so good. The people … European countries are just so close. My classmates were Spanish or from other European cultures. Everybody was really friendly and normal. Before I was really shy so I just thought the people from other cultures might seem totally different but they are the same. They just look different. Bigger nose, bigger eyes, taller … but they are the same. I don’t know.

How did you meet Daniel?

On Facebook. So I think it was my third year of college and I was cooking in the kitchen. One of my friends was playing with my computer. I had my Facebook up because I would post things sometimes. Daniel and I had added each other a couple of months ago, but I never paid attention to that. Daniel always told me I sent the request. I’m not agreeing but I don’t know. So that day Daniel sent me the first message while I was cooking in the kitchen. My friend, her name is Gloria. She’s a Chinese girl and was playing with my computer. She says “Che you have a message.” I say “What’s the name?” And she said “Daniel.” I was trying to think of all my Facebook friends … Daniel, Daniel, Daniel. I said “I don’t know who it is.” It didn’t matter because I was cooking. She just came over for dinner and a girl chat, so I said I don’t know who it is, so nothing happens.

The next day I checked out all of Daniel’s pictures and think “Oh, this guy is cute!” So I started to get back to him. I don’t remember what I said like “oh hi, how are you? Last night I was cooking.” And so we started to talk every day. We had six hours difference between the US and Spain, so every day I remember I would talk with Daniel around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. That’s maybe Daniel’s 3, 4 p.m. So every night I would just go to my room to talk with Daniel. I was so excited. We were in love, I don’t know.

So after three or four months was my summer vacation. I told you I had two months. So I lied to my parents and said I could only go back home for one month. I said I had an activity at the college. I needed to go back to Spain. My family is super open and they said “Okay, fine!” So actually I prepared all the documents before I went back to China because I needed a visa. Chinese people, we need a visa. So I got a visa and I flew back to Spain and then to the US. It was my first time coming to the US.

So you came to the US to meet Daniel?

Yes. That day I got here, I had no idea. I had never met Daniel before in real life. Daniel wore a T-shirt sweating with sandals and gave me big hug. I would have passed him because I was not wearing my glasses. Daniel’s roommate had brought bed bugs into their apartment and he was trying to fix that because he knew I was coming. He wanted to prepare the apartment. He still lived in an apartment close to UC. I didn’t care, though. He still looked cute. First I was so nervous. We were talking with each other for a long time. So I met Daniel that day and in that situation.

So were you guys officially a couple then?

After one week Daniel asked me in his room. I remember it very well. He asked me “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” Because Daniel’s American, I never had contact with American people that much. So before I came, I did some research on American relationships. So I read that in America, it’s really normal to date with someone. You can date with this girl today and this girl tomorrow. It does not matter because you just date. But if you have a relationship, that’s different. If you have a relationship, you cannot date this other girl. So in the beginning we just dated. After that, Daniel asked me to his girlfriend, I thought I was official. So we became boyfriend and girlfriend after one week, I guess.

But you guys were chatting for a while?

Yeah e-mails. I saved all my e-mails and I think it was like 100 pages in e-mails.

Oh my gosh! And you guys were both communicating in Spanish.

Yes in that moment, all Spanish.

How did that feel? It was your third year, so I guess you could speak Spanish pretty well.

Yeah I was doing very well in Spanish. Daniel in the beginning was a little surprised because I was an exchange student and he was studying in Spain for nine months in the North of Spain. He had maybe a couple Chinese classmates and he always felt that Chinese people were very shy. They don’t speak Spanish in public or speak very well. But he was so surprised that I spoke better than him. He thought I was special … maybe that’s why he was crushing on me.

(laughing) Who knows.

I don’t feel anything because for me talking in Spanish is very normal. I was with Spanish people every day. I went to school, talked with my roommate, with my landlord … everybody. Daniel I think felt a little different because he only spoke Spanish with me in that moment.

Che being a cat mom

When did you know you wanted to marry him?

I think it was very natural for me that we were going to get married because we were so in love. Every time, I’m telling you every time when I left, because I would always come to the US for breaks and holidays, every time I cried and Daniel cried. So I think we were so in love.

Was there a moment though?

I think in the very beginning when I first came to the US and we went to Charleston, that was my best memory.

Charleston, South Carolina?

Yes. Oh, so good! Because Daniel reserved a big room for just us and he opened these big doors and from the balcony you could see the ocean. It was the summer, there was music and downstairs was a swimming pool. I just felt like “oh my gosh! I think I could marry this guy!”

What has it been like moving to the United States?

It’s so different. Sometimes I feel frustrated because I always say I’ve traveled to a lot of different countries a lot. And every country is different … culture, food, weather. They never gave me the same feeling like America gives me. I just feel like the USA is really hard to handle. I don’t know. At times I really miss my family or I feel down. I just miss my family. I met Daniel really late in my time in Spain. But in the beginning I had to do everything by myself, so I didn’t feel like I needed help from someone else. I had to do that because no one was helping me because I was there by myself. But when I moved here I knew my fiance was here. I was not trying to do everything by myself because I knew he was going to help me and that his family was going to help me. So I kind of rely on them. It’s a different feeling. And this country is so different. Like I don’t know … everything. I spoke with someone else and they said “No, America is just like a European country! The people are just different.” I said “No, America is different. It makes me feel different.” I’m trying, really. I’m trying my best to get involved with this country and this culture and make myself feel happy.

Yeah, what has been the hardest part about moving to the US?

I just don’t feel … It’s just hard, the culture. Everything. Everywhere you need to drive. I don’t feel very free or flexible. Everything is great. You can go to the grocery and get everything. But I feel like nobody is walking outside. Just maybe in the morning some are running. It’s just not …

Do you find that the people are friendly?

Yeah! The people are extremely friendly! I don’t feel like people are racist to the foreign people because everybody tells me that this is an immigration country. Everybody’s from a different country before. So everyone treats me very nice. I like that so much. You guys do better than European people, at this point. I think it’s really hard to say which part makes me feel different. It’s just different. I’m still discovering the best way to handle this country.

Well and I think you’re right. In Spain, you would go outside and there are people laughing and dancing. You don’t always have that in the United States.

Yeah! I would go to the center of Malaga, the city I lived in, and it was very easy. I knew all the bus lines. For example, right now I know how to drive to Kenwood but I never feel good about driving to Kenwood by myself. I don’t know why. I know which high way I need  to take and I know which exit I need to take, but every time I feel a little scared. I always want Daniel to stay with me. I don’t like that. I hate that. I still need time to be like how I lived in Spain where I could do everything by myself, no problem.

And you’ll probably get there.

I will, I just need more time.

What do you miss most about China?

My family, my girlfriends and the food. The food actually is fine because I can make something similar, but my family and my girlfriends are really the biggest part that I miss about my city. I can go shopping with them, I can do yoga with them, talking and gossip … I miss that.

What surprised you the most about the United States?

I don’t know. For Chinese people, the United States is a very cool culture. We watch a lot because you guys do such a great job with movies and TV series. I just thought like “oh, the people are so cool!” Coming here it really is true! Like you guys have drive-throughs. I know it’s so normal and a tiny thing, but for me at the beginning I said “oh, this is so American!” Or you guys watch football and are so passionate about it. Something so similar to what I would watch on TV. It surprised me.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I can say that I’ll probably be a mom, and a more independent and confident woman.

What was it like growing up in China?

I had a very beautiful childhood because my dad and my mom gave me the greatest freedom. It was very normal. I went to school. In China it’s so modern now and it’s growing so fast, but I just had a very happy life.

Was it just you and your parents?

Yes, because I’m an only child.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions that people have about China here in the US, or Spain too?

Every time people tell me things they think about China, I feel like they are so stupid. They must not watch the news. Because if you go to China, it’s just like the USA, I’m telling you. It’s totally true. And China is not like the North of Korea. Not at all. There are big cities, people are so open. The city and country looks great. Of course we have many farmers, but I lived in the city. The people who live in the city are just like here, I think. It’s really modern.

So people think it’s different when it’s really just like the United States?

Oh people think it’s still just like 15 years ago how the people would never have power to show their opinions. I feel so free and so happy the 20 years I was living in China.

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Laura and the life of an immigrant

DSC_0177I spend my days working with immigrants at Su Casa Hispanic Center. Several weeks ago, I attended an event about immigration and Laura was one of four college students who told their stories. She moved to the United States when she was four from Colombia. Her family was escaping violence. She is undocumented but is able to attend college because of DACA (Deferred Action for Child Arrivals), a law that was put into place to allow undocumented immigrants who came over before the age of 16 the opportunity to go to school or work. We hear a lot about immigration and will start to hear more as the election rolls around. So often, if we just get to know people with different experiences than ours, our opinions change for the better. At the end of the day, I’m no better than Laura. It was sheer luck and chance that I was born a United States citizen and thus will never have to experience things she has. I’m so grateful that she was willing to tell her story on here. I hope it makes you think.

Name: Laura
Age: 19
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio; born in Bogota, Colombia

Do you have any memories of the first several years of your life in Colombia?

Most of my memories are of right before I left. We lived in my grandma’s house. I remember that very well. It was very crowded. A big thing in my family we called porunchos. We pretty much would all just like cuddle in my grandma’s bed, even though it would be like 10 different people … I don’t remember too much, though. I just remember we weren’t well off, we weren’t dirt poor. We were just kind of there, I feel like. My parents owned a car body shop. I loved being there. I remember me and my sister would always be there. I guess they would build things and they would have wood shavings in there. And so we’d build things with it. They have pictures of me doing that. But I remember that a lot, playing in there. It wasn’t in the best neighborhood. I think that was one of the reasons my parents would get so many threatening calls and things like that. I don’t remember too much.

So your parents would get threatening calls?

According to what my sister and my parents had told me, it wasn’t that unusual. I think what was unusual from that one call that made us come here was how much they knew about us, which was my sister’s information. So when she came to school, when she came home, her bus number, our address … just very, very personal information. My parents took it very seriously.

So what exactly was that call about? They said they knew all this stuff about you, but what were they threatening to do?

Money. I don’t know too much about exactly what went on. I just know that it was most-likely money. Colombia wasn’t the safest place at the time. My parents … it was either my dad or my sister who told me, but my dad has been held at gunpoint before. Things have been stolen from us. It wasn’t that safe. When we left, it wasn’t that uncommon, people leaving. Later on I started looking up things. I found out that Colombia has one of the highest rates of displacement, which means like people have left their homes and either gone abroad or somewhere else in Colombia. Colombia has one of the highest rates of displacement, so my family was among thousands of families that fled because the violence was so bad there. Now it’s getting a lot better. It’s not as bad as it used to be. There are certain parts of Colombia that are still pretty bad and you have to look out for, but what I’ve heard and what I’ve read, it’s not as bad as when we left.

So after that call happened that was really scary, you guys decided to come to the US.

So my dad, these are my parents words, my dad told me that after two weeks or a month or so, my dad came here and then we followed after like three months. So my dad came here because my aunt lives here. So I asked my mom because I’m going to Costa Rica and the reason why I was so interested in Costa Rica is because Costa Rica has one of the most friendly immigration/refugee policies. Most of their refugees are actually Colombian. So that interests me a lot. So I asked my mom why we came to the US? Did you ever think of going to another place? And she was like “well, your aunt lived here and that just seemed like the best decision.” So I asked her what if my aunt wasn’t living here and she was like “I have no idea where we would be.” So that kind of is an interesting thing. We had someone here. Most people don’t have someone here. That ends of being why a lot of people cross the border because that’s their last resort.

So your aunt had a cleaning business here in Cincinnati and you guys came to work with her? Did you come over on tourist visas?

Yeah we came over on tourist visas. So my parents told me we were going to Disneyworld. So we went there. I don’t remember any of it, surprisingly. I remember sleeping on the bench after all of it (laughs). But we went there. We were there for a while and then we went up to Cincinnati.

What was going through your head when you first came to the United States? Do you remember any of that?

It’s all a blur. I feel like I was very indifferent to everything. I don’t know if it was because there was so much changing that it just like flew over my head or what, but I don’t remember much as to my opinion. I just remember we were coming to Cincinnati and my parents were like “this is your new home!” And I’m like “okay, I guess?”

So you had said in your story that your sister was able to buy you all a house. How does that feel now to have something permanent?

DSC_0190We finally have something that’s our’s here … It’s really hard to buy a house if you’re undocumented. I believe it’s like for anybody else, you can put 10% down. Typically for undocumented people, it’s like 15-20% down that you have to put. A lot of the things that we do, we have to think of them as not permanent. I mean when my sister first told me that she wanted to buy a house, I was almost against it. I was like “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” My dad refuses to get a new car because he’s like “I don’t know what’s gonna happen. What if we buy a new car and then end up getting deported or something?” Nothing’s really permanent in our lives.

What is that like? What kinds of fears does that bring?

Driving. My dad drives everywhere … Kentucky, Dayton, all throughout Ohio and Kentucky as well. So he’s constantly driving. His car looks very beat-up. It’s my aunt’s car from when we moved here. It’s a 1996 I think, model. So it’s really old and it’s gone through a lot. So that scares me. Cops typically look at old cars and kind of scope them out a bit. And it does look sketchy in certain neighborhoods. So it does worry me when my dad drives. My parents have been pulled over a couple of times. My mom got pulled over two years ago for speeding. Luckily nothing happened. My parents are friends with a bunch of lawyers, apparently, so that’s vey helpful. The court that my mom went to was not Butler County. Butler is known for being really terrible when it comes to immigrants and undocumented people. They are literally trying to scope them out. That is there mission. So my mom was fine. My dad once got pulled over for a tail light and he was fine. But we’ve been very lucky. One of the top ways that people get deported is because of driving.

People get pulled over and then have to show their papers.

Yeah but Cincinnati is oblivious. I guess we fall under the radar. I think if we lived in a place like Texas, for example, or somewhere in the South, this would be a bigger issue. We fall under the radar. But it’s still scary. They used to do raids around here. I don’t think they do it too often anymore. When we first moved here, my parents worked in factories. So my mom would have, I specifically remember this, I would cry when my mom would go to work. She would go from like 6 to 2 in the morning, and I hated that. My sister was my babysitter at like nine years old. They had to work a lot and my parents couldn’t afford a babysitter. They didn’t even know how to get a babysitter. So that was difficult. A lot of it is just the driving part. We don’t have to worry about raids because my parents own their own businesses, practically. But when they did work in the factories, I didn’t realize how scary that actually was.

So that’s pretty typical. ICE (Immigration and Customs) will come to a factory and just check everyone’s immigration status, basically?

Yeah. I’m pretty sure they’ve done that with construction. So that’s still a little bit of a worry with my dad (he works in construction). So when my parents worked, either my sister would have to take care of me or typically, we’d just go to work with them even though we weren’t supposed to. We would go to work with them and there was this huge paper on the wall about all the rules and regulations. And there was a big section that was the immigration part. It would always make me laugh after I found out about our situation.

When did you find out that you guys were undocumented?

15. So probably a little bit before then, my best friend’s family was real close with my family. Her older sister was studying to become a lawyer and so my sister opened up to her. And her older sister kind of told my best friend and then she kind of told me. But I guess some of the stuff I would say didn’t add up. I didn’t catch on to it, but her family did. So I remember one day I was walking with my friend and we started talking about things. And she was like “have you ever thought of why these things don’t add up? Have you ever asked your parents? Have you ever questioned anything?” And I was like “no. I never thought of that.”

What sorts of things wouldn’t add up?

So the fact that some of our bills were under my aunt’s name. The fact that my parents, when it came to driving, I remember specifically when our car broke down, and my parents would freak out and I didn’t understand why that was a big deal. The fact that the seatbelt … my parents freaked out about that. Not just because of my safety but because they don’t want to get pulled over for that. The fact that we hadn’t been back to Colombia in so long. That was odd because it’s expensive but not to the point that we shouldn’t have been able to go for over 15 years. The fact that we had to go to Indianapolis or Chicago to go to the embassy for things. There’s just a lot of random things that were odd. So I didn’t know what I was. I didn’t know if I had a green card. A lot of people would ask. Which you would think something like that is so personal, but people would ask “are you a citizen? Do you have a visa? Do you have a green card?” And I didn’t know these terms. My parents had never talked about it. Surprise, but I never tried to figure out what these things were. So I would just lie about what I was. I didn’t know why I was lying, but I did.

So when you found this out, how did you feel?

DSC_0178It was funny because my friend gave me the “maybe you should start questioning things” and then my sister was talking to my parents and they were like “we need to tell her.” My sister told me when we were on a walk. My mom didn’t want to see me cry about it. I guess she didn’t want that to happen. So my sister wanted to tell me beforehand so that when my mom told me, it wouldn’t be a big deal. And when my sister told me I was like “oh, that’s fine. It’s not a big deal.” It was almost a relief because she was like “I have this huge thing” and I was like “oh, that’s all you had to tell me? Like I already had an idea about it.”

So at the time I didn’t realize exactly what it meant to be undocumented. It wasn’t until a little bit later. When I turned 16 … oh that was another thing that didn’t add up. Every time I talked about driving, she would get so mad at me. I’m like “why are you getting mad at me? This is a normal thing!” It was just like “I don’t wanna talk about it!” I didn’t know why she would be upset and why she didn’t want to talk about it. I remember in school we talked about the citizenship thing you have to go through. They simplify it so much. Oh you take a test, you have to speak English, you have to do this. I would get mad at my parents and I’m like “in school, we learn this. It’s not that hard. Why aren’t you doing this? Why aren’t you taking this seriously?” And my mom would refuse to talk to me about any of that stuff, so that didn’t add up. After I found out and it came time to get my temps and then college came around, thats when I felt what it meant to be undocumented. Everyone was getting their temps and were asking why you weren’t getting your temps. “Oh, driving school is too expensive. I’m going to wait until I’m 18 and I can drive.” Things like that, I had to lie about a lot.

When it came to college, nobody in my family knew what to do about college. My parents thing had always been do well in school, get good grades and the rest should take care of it’s self type of thing. So luckily my best friend’s family kind of helped me with that a little bit … When it came to financial aid, I think that’s when it got really, really rough.  That’s when I knew I was undocumented, when it came to college. I think it was the college part that just hit me because every time I looked at scholarships, citizen was tied to it. When I looked at how much college costs, my parents could barely afford many things. So I remember crying in my friend’s car saying I have no idea how I’m about to do this on my own. I have no idea how I’m supposed to pay for all of college. I don’t want to ask my parents for help because they can’t help. That was the biggest thing for me. I was a decent student. I wasn’t the smartest, but I did well in academics. By midway through high school, my biggest goal was to do mostly AP and accelerated classes. My parents had always said “if you do well, something has to happen. If you push yourself, something has to happen.” And so I pushed myself to do the most that I could because in my mind, I thought “if I do all this, how could something not happen for me? How could I not go to college if I push myself to do all these things?” And summer of junior year was the first time I thought “maybe that doesn’t happen. Maybe no matter how hard you push yourself, shit doesn’t happen sometimes.” And it did. I’ve been very lucky how things lined up.

So you’re able to go to college because of DACA?

So when I said I wasn’t a great student, I got a 27 on my ACT but not enough for academic scholarships. So I would look into diversity scholarships. Each time citizenship was attached to it. Lulac at a point required citizenship. I believe the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce had citizenship required at some point. So all these scholarships had citizenship attached to it. And then I got DACA and I looked into UC and found the Darwin D. Turner Scholarship. It was funny because their’s didn’t explicitly say that you needed to be a citizen. They had about six different requirements you had to have, one of which was that you had to have in-state tuition. At the time DACA or undocumented students could not get in-state tuition. UC would have cost me 23,000 because I would have been considered an international student at most schools … that was … I had no idea how I was supposed to afford that. But when my senior year rolled around, Governor Kasich announced that he was going to let all Ohio schools let DACA students get in-state tuition. UC’s Darwin T. Turner Scholarship, all it said was that you need to be able to get in-state tuition. So I kind of found my loophole … a lot of things were opening up for DACA students my senior year. That’s extremely lucky.

So a lot of things opened up my senior year. So when I tell my story, that’s one thing I want people to keep in mind. I have been lucky, or blessed or whatever you want to call it because most people don’t get that opportunity. My sister, nothing happened during that time. Most students don’t even know that these things are happening. And for most … I have a couple of friends who are undocumented and they were able to go to college. I have no idea how they did it. They had nothing in place for them.

So that worry of losing your DACA … what’s that like?

DSC_0188Nothing’s permanent. If I can sum up my experience, it’s that nothing’s permanent and nothing’s yours. College is a big part where you’re always planning ahead. I don’t know how many professors and advisors have asked me what I plan to do after I graduate. What internships are you looking for? And now many time I’ve been told to start looking things up now and I can’t do that because I don’t know what’s going to happen when I graduate. That’s one of the most annoying things. I remember my director … she knows my story to the bone. I’ve told her everything. One of her questions was “where do you see yourself in 5 years? Even 10?” And I said “I can’t even tell you where I see myself in two years. I can’t see myself past DACA. Once that expiration date, I can’t even tell you what happens to be honest.” So that’s always in the back of my head when it comes to planning my future because I can’t. Research opportunities, internship opportunities … most of them have citizenship tied to them. A lot of it is just planning and it’s hard when your future is so shaky.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about immigrants?

So many … so many so many so many. The fact that people think citizenship is so easy to get. Nobody knows … I don’t even know the process. It’s complicated. I haven’t even been able to go through with it myself. I’ve read about it and things, but I don’t even know to the full extent. But it’s difficult to get here, let alone have some sort of status in here. I remember … so my parents tried to apply for asylum and had a really terrible lawyer who told them they couldn’t apply for it, which we could have. But they don’t accept many refugees. If you’ve heard about the Syrian crisis … people here are so afraid of refugees, people are so afraid of immigrants, which is funny when you hear “America, the land of immigrants!”

Throughout history we’ve always been terrible to immigrants. That’s something that I’ve studied any time that I’ve had to do a research project, I’ve always done it on immigration. The first time I got exposed to it was my AP American History class. I had to a 20-page research paper on a major event and so I did the 1925 immigration act. So I got to study all the history of immigration and all the policies that went with it. We’ve been really terrible to immigrants throughout history. People have this idea that immigrants are going to take jobs and they’re terrible people. Or they’re immoral or as Trump wants to say “Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers and things that.” So a lot of it is based on fear. A lot of the assumptions. Obviously you get your bad people with anything, but that doesn’t mean were all like that. If anything, we’re mostly not like that. So the the biggest misconception is that citizenship is easy to get and it’s not. Not at all. Getting refugee status as we’re starting to learn, is not easy at all. You can’t just come in and that’s how people want to view it. Luckily my family didn’t get to experience it but a lot of families do.

Crossing the border is not fun and dandy. If you’re a woman and you’re crossing the border, you’re most likely going to get raped. You’re most likely going to get mugged, if you don’t die there. The chances of you dying are pretty high as well. They have found so many bodies in the desert. And so all these deceptions that these processes are so easy and they’re not. People don’t just come here because it’s fun. It’s because that’s their last resort. I read through Facebook comments, which is the worst thing you can do. What I’ve seen a lot of people say is “why don’t you just go back to your country and try to fix it? Aren’t you a little bit of a coward for not trying to help your country be fixed?” And it’s not that easy. It’s not easy to do that. It’s not that people don’t have pride in their country, it’s the fact that their lives are on the line. And for the most part when people are crossing the border, they’re not saying “oh, I’m going to break a law today!” That’s not on their head. What’s on their head is they’re either trying to escape poverty or they’re trying to escape violence, pretty much. I think that’s the thing that people don’t realize … how much harder it is. It’s a privilege to be born here. People are so entitled to that. “Oh, what did you to deserve to be here?” And people don’t realize what we’ve put into. Another misconception about undocumented people is that we don’t pay taxes. Yes, we pay taxes. A lot of us do. The number of people actually paying taxes has risen a lot in the past few years. We are one of the major contributors to the welfare programs because we put in a lot of taxes that we can’t take out. We can’t receive any welfare.

Anything else you want to add?

Yeah my trip to Costa Rica! So for DACA, you can apply for advanced parole. Advanced parole pretty much means … you pay like $300. Pretty much you apply for this thing and you have to show that you’re going abroad either for school, work or there’s a family crisis. You have to have obviously a bunch of proof on that. And then typically it takes two to four months to get a notice. Through advanced parole … it’s a lot of money to spend to even think about going abroad. I’ve already spent close to $1,000 and I’m not even sure if I can get into Costa Rica.

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Kaitlin and the world of scenic design

DSC_0001I met Kaitlin through my friend Lauren (remember her Q & A? Lauren the Activist). Women doing what we do best … introducing each other to our friends. Lauren attends Northern Kentucky University with Kaitlin and they are both involved with Common Ground, an organization for people who identify as LBGTQ and their allies. Lauren said she’s always wearing such unique vintage dresses, so I naturally had to meet her! Kaitlin is in her junior year majoring in scenic design. She spends her days in the theatre department taking classes and designing sets. 

Name: Kaitlin Findley
Age: 21
Location: Northern Kentucky

What got you interested in scenic design and theatre?

To be honest, I don’t really know. My brother did theatre, so I guess that kind of got me interested because I would see him in shows. But I mean I had also watched like stuff at the Aranoff Center with my mother. We would watch musicals when I was younger. I guess when I decided to join my drama club my junior year, I fell in love with it and just immediately jumped in, and starting building and painting anything I could.

Which do you prefer, the performance side, or the scenic and set design side?

It really depends on the day. I mean, I wish I could perform more than I do because I haven’t performed since high school. But I think for the most part, I enjoy the designing more because I get to see what I’ve done whereas you don’t get that when performing, obviously. You can see people’s reactions but you don’t actually get to see your stuff.

Cool. So do you design the sets for NKU productions?

I have not yet. I’m going to be assistant designing in the Spring for Into the Woods.

DSC_0009Cool. So I guess just kind of describe where you are right now in life? And there are like no right/wrong answers here.

I’m not really sure. Just living on campus, taking classes and spending most of my time in the theatre building, helping out with everything. Doing homework. It’s not too exciting. Just trying to build up my portfolio that way I have stuff because I want to go to grad school after this to study more.

What’s the process of building a scene like?

It’s a lot of research. You have to obviously read the play or musical first, do tons of research of the time period if that’s what the director wants, or the director could take it somewhere else. So it’s really working with the director, figuring out what they want, going from there, doing a lot of research and developing like a concept. A lot of people build a model so that way the director can see what it’s like. If they want or not. Then going from there and drafting what you have so that it can be budgeted by the scene shop or whoever is building it.

So there’s a lot of collaboration?

Yeah it’s a collaboration with pretty much everyone involved.

DSC_0016Is that kind of stressful sometimes because some people might have one idea and then you’re like no this looks better and then they’re like we can’t afford that?

Yeah … since you are the designer and the director’s the one who decides everything, you basically have to listen to them. Like you can say your input and be like I really like this, but if they don’t, you kind of have to go with them, obviously. Money … you gotta follow that part a lot more.

I’m sure that can be kind of frustrating at times too.


How much of it is you actually getting on there and painting things? Or are they getting away from that now?

I mean everything is … pretty much we create it all. Unfortunately there’s not always a lot of detail work. So it’ll just be like a flat color. With Les Miserables, there was a ton of detail work because everything has to look distressed. So when we do shows that like, we can. They’re a lot more fun to work on because you get to do more than just paint a flat color.

Where are you hoping this takes you? I know you want to go to grad school, but where do you see this taking you?

I’m not entirely sure. I think I would prefer to work with a community theatre because then it would be a more stable job. Hopefully designing sets for them. I could do different things, whether it would be scenic painting or building it, that would be nice.

So you know Lauren through Common Ground. What sort of prompted your involvement?

Let’s see freshman year before we come here we have an orientation. They had a table at it. I was with my friend who also goes here. We’ve known each other since high school. We saw the table and were like oh, I guess we’ll go to the first meeting. And we did and kind of fell in love with it. So I’m part of the E-board this year and I was last year. I don’t know … it’s a fun way to de-stress.

DSC_0008Yeah so do you find that that’s like a group of your friends as well or how does it de-stress you?

It gives me a break from my classes and homework. I get to be with other people from a wide variety of majors and it’s nice to be with people from different fields. I like having that because in the theatre department, a bunch of people just stick with theatre people. So it’s nice to be with everyone rather than a small, select group of people.

So what are you most passionate about, in general?

Anything where I can get creative, in any sense, whether that be an artistic thing or just … I don’t, the way I dress is obviously more creative. Any outlet of life where I can try to be as creative as I can. Because I want to a unique person. I kind of like that.

So how do you feel like you express yourself through what you wear?

I wear a lot of vintage dresses, or tend to. I go to thrift stores or vintage stores just because I like having stuff that no one else has. And I mean tend to prefer that style more so than a lot of the stuff that’s seen today. I mean, I do have some of that stuff obviously.

What about vintage clothing interests you?

Really just the style of it. Just the cuts, the clothing, the way it flows is just very different from a lot of what is out there today. A lot of things are the shorter cut and I like the … a lot of it is over the knee and I like that look. It just looks like … more professional in a sense. And I like that.

Okay so you grew up in Cincinnati. How many siblings do you have?

I have a brother and a sister.

What was your childhood like?

It was good. My parents didn’t really like set any … I don’t know how to describe it. They weren’t crazy sticklers on the whole gender roles thing. We could do what we wanted. Like I would tend to play with a lot of legos. Whatever we wanted to do. So we could really be ourselves. Like my sister just died her hair. She’s a freshman in high school. My parents just want us to be ourselves and they don’t stop us from that, which is nice.

DSC_0003What does being a woman mean to you?

Hmm. That’s a tough question. I don’t really know. It’s hard to explain. I guess it’s recognizing that there are challenges and especially in the theatre world until recently, there wasn’t a lot of females making it far in the design aspect just because especially with building stuff, women are typically seen as not as strong. So I guess finding ways to express that that’s not the case and luckily that’s finally changing.

Yeah how is that changing in the theatre world? I mean there would always be roles in theatre acting-wise for women. But I don’t know, how is it changing?

I mean I tend to watch the Tony Awards and they’ve always had females nominated for stuff, but recently a few have actually won which is helpful to see work from other females. They can do just as good of work.

Yeah so they weren’t always directing, producing or designing the set. But by the nature of the way our world works we’ve always had a role for a woman acting but now it’s like well, let’s not just value her for her good looks but maybe her brain too?

Yeah I mean that probably is it. Also just that I mean a lot of middle schools and high schools don’t have any thing close to theatre, so that’s also part of it. If you don’t have stuff, you don’t an opportunity to be exposed to it. I think that is also part of the problem. People aren’t exposed to it at a young age and don’t know you can do those kinds of things necessarily until you get to college.

What has been one of the most proud moments of your life?

One of them was being accepted into the BFA program here. That made me feel like I had the potential to pursue this. I guess that.

What was that process like? Was it selective?

You have to go in for the tech side and you interview with a group of staff members and professors. You show them your portfolio, talk about the work that you’ve done and what you hope to accomplish at this university and beyond that. So that was pretty nerve-wracking but fun at the same time just getting that experience. On the tech side, you don’t get to do as much with the auditioning stuff as the performers do. While I’ve done that, I don’t do it regularly or as often. So you’re not as prepared. So being accepted made me feel good. Like okay, I can do an interview.

Who are the most important relationships in your life?

Definitely my parents because they let me explore what I wanted. I danced all my life from a young age and they let me do that. I took many different classes in high school because I was toying with many different things I wanted to do. I wanted to be an environmental engineer and graphic design. Eventually I settled on theatre. I originally came here wanting performance but then I realized that the tech side is probably more feasible for me. And they’ve been supportive of all those decisions. In high school, I had several teachers who were also like do what you want. They were mainly my art teachers. They saw my work and helped me to see that I have potential because I can be very hard on myself, so it’s nice to hear that from other people.

We are our own worst critic.


So I also saw you go to conventions. What kinds do you attend?

The past two years, I’ve gone to the Cincinnati comic expo. In the summer I also went to the Indiepop Con.

What got you interested in that?

It was mainly my dad and my sister. My freshman year I didn’t go because I had a bunch of homework and they sent me pictures while they were there. I was like dangit! I wish I had gone and like put off my homework ’til the last minute. So they drug me there last year and I absolutely loved it. I mean I guess being able to create stuff and having people come up to you and be like I love what you did! Can I take a picture? It’s just fun. And then seeing a bunch of artist’s work and seeing a bunch of people, loving the same stuff … it’s a nice environment.

So tell me about your dress (the one in the first photo)?

I found this at a thrift shop and just decided to buy it. I like things that are unique, different and fun!

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Lauren the activist


I met Lauren a little over a year ago when we were both hired to do voter empowerment work for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Lauren and I are like-minded in so many ways, so we’ve naturally stayed friends since. Lauren is passionate about social justice and puts her energy towards making the world a better place. I’m honored to consider her a friend and am excited to see where life takes her.

Name: Lauren Gabbard
Age: 24
Location: Northern Kentucky
Occupation: AmeriCorps Vista Member at Kentucky Campus Compact

Describe to me where you are in life right now?

Well I just graduated (from Northern Kentucky University) with a degree in political science and economics. It was a really fun time. I got involved in a lot groups like Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (a grassroots social justice organization based in Kentucky), Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, environmental initiatives and things like that. I really kind of found myself as someone who cares about justice, activism and community organizing.

What are the things that prompted you to seek those organizations out?

DSC_0014So I guess from a young age, I noticed that things that have motivated me in my life have been injustice. When I see a situation that’s not fair or people being oppressed for certain reasons, it gets me really worked up. I’m like “We need to do something about it! That’s not fair! It shouldn’t be happening.” So when I was younger it was more about poverty issues and then as I got older it was more about issues of race, gender, class and sexual orientation. I really like to stand up for people’s rights when they’re being violated. I also focus a lot on international issues of poverty. For now I really want to get involved in activism, community organizing and national issues. Eventually I want to maybe be doing policy research on the international political economy. Like learning about the legacy of colonization and how it forms that global economy today. Or learning about the global food system and different exploitations that are happening for our benefit.

So was there one particular thing that prompted you to look into issues of poverty?

I was motivated when I learned that places were really poor compared to us. Like people don’t have a bed, they don’t have food, things like that. So I was really just motivated when I found out about the rest of the world as a child.

How do you feel like you’ve grown as a person through college and your involvement in activism?

DSC_0010I really went from someone who always felt on the defense on political and social issues, to someone who feels confident and assertive about myself, my identity and standing up for issues. Before it was like if the entire class is against gay people and I’m over here like “I have gay dads and I’m bisexual and my brother’s asexual, you’re hurting my feelings.” I’ve had the whole entire class argue with me many times through high school and a little bit in college. Instead of getting really worked up about that and going home and crying, I now for one don’t feel like it’s my job to educate every person who I come across. There are some people in the world who are always going to be against you. That’s fine. You can’t convince them all. But also I feel like I’ve gained support from people who feel the same way as me and I’ve gained confidence just to be able to talk about these things more. I guess I’ve just really gained confidence to stick up for what I believe in and knowledge to kind of put that in the right outlets. Me getting in arguments in class and getting worked up does nothing, but me going and volunteering with KFTC or IJPC can do a lot. Me directing my career goals to policy research that I hope will help people will also do a lot.

What was it like in those moments in high school? How did it feel when you felt like everyone was against you?

Not good. You don’t have support from your classmates, you don’t have support from the teacher and the debate is framed against you. You being so young and not having all your thoughts or facts in order, you can’t really lay out your argument. It feels awful for instance if you know something is very homophobic but I can’t conceptualize or verbalize why, and then someone is trying to argue around you with semantics. You’re just sitting there like “I know how I feel is right and you’re just making me feel so wrong.”

Honestly I don’t like to dwell on that because I’ve come such a long way from feeling like that. I haven’t felt like that in years and that feels great. It’s such a relief. Now I do have the knowledge to lay out an argument. I’ve read a lot, so I’ve weighed in on a bunch of different opinions on a bunch of different issues. So I’ve learned to communicate different opinions. And I’m able to take in and accept other people’s arguments even if if I don’t agree. I’m able to go “I see what you’re saying, but if you think about it this way, it might frame it differently for you or the both of us.

So you have what some consider a “modern family.” Your parents are split up, and your dad is openly homosexual with a husband. What’s that been like? How old were you when your dad came out and what’s that been like?

DSC_0005I was in the eighth grade when my dad came out of the closet as gay. It was weird because we didn’t know any gay people before that but it wasn’t like we were grossed out or thought it was wrong. We were just like “oh, that’s different.” He started dating Roger and now they’re married. They got married in 2010. So we have our step dad and our dad. So I have my gay dads who live in DC and then we live with our mom since they moved to DC.

And they seem to get along.

Yeah so my parents definitely get along. I think the first few years after the divorce, they didn’t like each other. But they had to keep seeing each other because of us. My parents get along really well now. When my dads come to visit, they stay at my mom’s with us. We’ve even gone on one or two vacations all together as well.

You also identify as bisexual. What was the process of coming to that realization like?

Everything is so heteronormative, for a long time I thought my attraction to women was just aesthetic. I thought women were beautiful and I talked about how I thought they were beautiful all the time. I could feel myself being drawn towards women but I did not realize it was romantic or sexual until I was like 20. And then I was just on Tumblr one day scrolling through and I just stopped on this image of a woman and thought “oh my gosh, I’m attracted to her!” It just felt natural. It just made sense. Like “oh, I’m bisexual. That just feels right.” It wasn’t like some huge revelation or anything like that.

I think too bisexualism is something that is so hard for people to understand. Everything in society is so one or the other gender. So to be someone who is attracted to both, people just don’t get that. People think “oh, are you just this until you come out as gay?” What do you say to that?

DSC_0007I’ve had people say like “can’t you just pick one?” That’s really heteronormative. You have to either be the girl or the guy, or just straight. In the bisexual community, we define it as being attracted to the same gender and at least one other. So there’s more than two genders. A lot of people transcend the gender binary or fall somewhere in between. Really it’s like “no, I don’t have to pick one.” I can be attracted to women and other genders.

So you’ve got a lot of good stuff going on right now. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

Right so I’m doing an AmeriCorps Vista term right now and that’s been really great so far. Within five years, I’ll probably go back to graduate school, maybe in DC, maybe in Europe … who knows. I could go anywhere in the country. I’m hoping to do a program with the international political economy that really focuses on politics and economics in an international context. I really would like to target exploitation of land, labor and resources. I just feel like our American and Western multi-national corporations have the ability to around the world and set the price. They have the ability to exploit people for resources and labor. I feel like a popular movement of equality is great, but targeting the policies and the rules that they play by is also really essential. I feel like that gets skipped over by a lot of activism.

What does being a woman mean to you?

Being a woman to me shows that I have a support structure for things that were making me uncomfortable throughout my life that I didn’t know about before. For instance, being made fun of for certain things in elementary school or issues of violence. I’ve had some violent experiences in my life at the hands of men and just knowing that were all in this together. Women have not always been oppressed and it means that we don’t always need to be. It’s a good part of my identity. I will hang out with pretty much any woman. You don’t have to be on your guard. But a man, you don’t know if they’re going to say something really sexist or try to hit on you inappropriately.

Being a queer woman or a bisexual woman makes me feel like I belong to this legacy of awesome women throughout history that I can always band together with.

You’re right. Women are incredibly relational, so it makes sense that we all band together. 

So, how do you feel when you put on a dress?

Cute (laughs). It makes you feel good, it makes you feel confident. Dressing your best is great. Either your really fashionable and your vilified for that, or you’re really not fashionable and you’re vilified for that. It’s like you can’t win either way as a woman, so you might as well do what makes you feel good. So dressing business casual makes me feel good.

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