Jessica Soukup | She/Her/Hers

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What does the word Queer mean to you?

Queer is a battle cry; a challenge against the judgment of others and a declaration of the ownership of who I am and who I love.

Do you consider yourself an activist? Why or why not?

Yes.  I specifically seek out opportunities to engage people around social justice with a special emphasis on gender and sexual identity.

What is your hope for QiR?

That we will lift up the voices of queer people and amplify the radical acceptance and inclusion of queer culture as it is the answer to what ails our society.

What was your scariest experience when trying to make a difference? How did you overcome your fears?

I was at an AISD Board of Trustee's meeting I had been asked to attend in support of comprehensive sex ed by Susanne Kerns. I was unprepared for the room full of transphobic haters that showed up and I was among the first to testify. My testimony was attempting to move the bar further in support of non-binary people and families that look different than those seen on Leave it to Beaver.  I had to stand there, with my back to these people spewing their hate and disinformation and speak for 2 minutes. Shortly after my 2-minute testimony, the haters began to testify specifically spreading hate and misinformation about transgender people. I had planned to leave but, circumstances lead to me sitting within camera view, directly to the side of them. I felt the visual of being seen on camera as people said hateful and inaccurate things about me and it was too powerful to leave so, I remained.

two-thirds of the way through, Susanne passed me a little note that just said: "You're a badass."  That validation helped me keep going.

What do you say to people who say they want to make a difference but they don't know what to do?

Seek out your own way to be an activist. Not everyone is the same and not every form of activism fits in our lives.  It is important to find a way to make a difference that is sustainable.  Some people can make phone calls. Some people write postcards.  Some people donate money.  Some people organize rallies.  Some people, like me, speak publicly.  Find what works for you.

What recharges you?

Shopping, trying on clothes, eating healthy food, disconnecting emotionally from the world around me.

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