48 - LaShawn Gaston
Passionate about laughter. Love to make people laugh.
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know….
“It's not that I noticed I was different, I didn't notice that I was different… It felt normal to me so I really didn't notice that I was different. But I like the way I was raised, and the way I was taught… I knew there was a difference, and like what I thought was right from other people’s point of view, and it was so natural to me… Am I supposed to do that? I feel like this is who I've been since I've been this way, so I really don't think it's different or anything like that because it's normal to me…”
On her coming out experience…
“My friends… they knew… I was like 14, 15 years old. My parents… when I was 16. I didn't really come out… they found out that I was this way. On my end, it wasn't too decent… But on their side, they thought they were doing the right thing, from the best of their knowledge.
The way that my parents came up - they go by the Bible… and for some people, that’s what they go by. Me, on the other hand, I went by the Bible, but I think in life it’s if you do right or wrong. If you’re good to people, it shouldn’t matter who you’re in love with. They didn’t agree with me liking girls… because I was 16, supposed to be dating, going to the prom, and things like that. They didn’t agree with what I wanted to do. I can’t hate the way that they handled, because they only knew a certain way to go about it… and it was new to them… It wasn’t so good for me, but that’s probably all they knew… I try to see their reasoning… But you’re not gonna make me feel bad about who I am, because you feel some type of way…”
On fears or concerns about coming out…
“Yeah… all the time, because like I've always been what they call a tomboy… So, my friends they knew I was gay, but they really didn't know. Even when I came out to my friends, they were true to it, and didn't treat me any different. It was just the parental figures that had a problem with it…”
Frustrations within our community…
“The most frustrating thing to me is the way that we don't want to be judged, but sometimes we can judge each other within LGBT community… ‘You’re supposed to be a lesbian… you can’t do this... you can’t dress like this… you can’t do that…’ And that's one thing we do have to work on… judging each other, because we can't come from being judged, and then we judge each other other. It’s like we’re pulling each other down. Just be yourself. Do your thing.”
Favorite part about our community?
“We're kind of awesome… because we're put on a pedestal of being different… and people want to see us fail sometimes…. But it’s the fact that it's not going to happen… we're the most talented people… we have so many ideas… we mind our own business… Like, in my community, all the people that I know, we never just go to tear anybody down… We always welcome people like, ‘Hey, come over here…’ You know stuff like that… But it’s the fact that people try to put us in a negative light, and it can't happen… we're undefeatable.”
What is something you would tell a younger you? Advice for anyone out there who feels like they can’t come out, or they don’t have a community to be a part of?
“It's been years since I came out and there really wasn't a community for me, like there is now. So, I’d just tell everybody to be yourself… because at the end of the day you don’t want to hurt inside for being something that you’re not… it’s so wild… I was like that… and I felt I couldn’t say anything… Depression kills, also… I feel better being myself. I was trying to blend in with something I wasn’t. I was really laid back and quiet… and it was killing me more than being who I was, and being unaccepted and going to do my own thing.”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“Just being me… I'm just proud of my existence, because without that, I wouldn't have anything to be proud of... One thing about me, is that I like to give joy to everybody… I'm that friend… That’s one thing I do pride myself about, because if anybody I love needs anything, they can come to me and they know I have their back. I get joy out of making other people happy.”
With the state of the nation and the world in its current state, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?
“The way we look at each other… as in always finding the differences… in the way we judge each other, because we look different… or we're into different things…it’s society… in the way that certain people have to fit in… Like for me, I'm black… I have to fit in with certain things I have to do, and certain gay people have to do things like this… certain Jewish people to do things like this… I would like to change the way that we all judge and look at each other… and we could just get rid of it, and everybody could be the same. If we could just love each other and treat each other the same, everything would be fine…”