For Pride, we’re featuring some of our fab friends from the LGBTQIA community. Adrienne and Vita let us know the importance of visibility, representation, and the inspiration their mothers provide.
Adrienne, left, & Vita, right. Photography by Jane Kratochvil for Fab.
Who or what inspires you?
VITA: There is no short or simple answer to this question; many people and things inspire me, both negative AND positive. From my parents, to events in the real world, to works of art, to people so vile that I am driven to balance them out by being the best I can be. There are works of literature that literally saved my life. There are people who encourage and drive me to excel in my work and as a human being.
In terms of being out and strong in who I am, I guess the first inspiration came from my mother. She is an incredibly intelligent, gentle soul, but she has a will of steel and convictions to match. She was a social worker for like 30 years. They don’t make ’em like her anymore. I learned about being proud in who and what I am from watching her, but more importantly I learned about being kind and understanding from her. She’s the actual best, a real life Disney Princess.
ADRIENNE: There’s a quote from Maya Angelou that’s going to be my next tattoo: “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.” My greatest inspiration and joy in life is finding opportunities to make a difference in the world, and do better by the people around me.
On a large scale, my job is to work with retailers all over the world to ensure the products you buy in stores are non-toxic and manufactured in safe, ethical environments. And on a smaller scale, it’s the same thing for me to be out and proud: that I can have the opportunity to be a positive force, by small and large actions. I’ll echo Vita also that my family is a big inspiration for me. I’m very close to my mother, and her belief that I could go out into the world and be exactly the person I wanted to be is one of main forces in my life that allows me to be. Whenever I’m nervous or insecure, I pretend that I’m the person that my mother sees me as.
Where is your happy place?
VITA: My happy place is less a place and more my family – chosen and born into. I love my siblings and my friends. I adore my nephew. Good food and drink with good company is paradise.
ADRIENNE: I think happiness and joy are habits that you have to trick yourself into sticking with. They’re worse than going to the gym, because there’s so much in the world that will tear you down and make you feel bad about yourself. Happiness has to start inside of you.
Also, karaoke. Cooking dinner for my friends. Spending time with my partner, Vita, who makes me feel safe and loved and seen. Doing nerdy history stuff like going to the Transit Museum or the Tenement Museum or NY Historical Society events.
Why is it important for you to be visible as queer women in a loving relationship?
VITA: Because I went through a lot of personal grief and mental anguish as a child and teen that could have been avoided if there had been examples of queer women living their lives and being happy. Baby gay Vita needed to see queer ladies existing, teen gay Vita needed to see queer ladies thriving. I didn’t know being happy as a queer person was an OPTION until I was 15.
If I was an action figure, one of the phrases I would say when you pushed my button would be “Representation Matters”, because on even a subconscious level, these things change how we view ourselves as entities in the world.
ADRIENNE: Vita spoke about how much representation matters, and I don’t think that can be overstated.
I have older straight friends and coworkers who have never had a queer friend in their life (or who maybe didn’t even know that they’d even met any queer people). A lot of people don’t know that LGBTQ people still struggle – that we face job discrimination, housing discrimination, violence, isolation – even though the federal right to marry is protected. Having someone that they know personally makes all of it real: the good parts and the bad parts. Because the good parts matter too – I also have a few queer friends who have never known any LGBTQ people that were in a loving, positive, happy relationship. Or who don’t have a lot of people in their lives who love and support the person that they truly are.
Everyone, but especially children and younger people, looks for places and personas they can fit into, to make sure they are “okay” and “acceptable.” It’s so important to see someone who’s happy and living their life, and be able to say, “I can have that too.”
Complete this sentence. When I ______, I feel fabulous.
ADRIENNE: When I can help someone feel recognized, I feel fabulous.
How do you show pride?
VITA: By doing my best to thrive. By being as authentically me as humanly possible. By using my voice, as a writer and as a human, to show that there is not just nothing wrong with being who I am, but that it is the best thing I can be. By making room for others to be able to do the same. Being Ride Or Die for my people, when they need me.
ADRIENNE: I show pride by loving myself and my partner, and the people around me. I show it by being kind, and being unafraid to challenge the bad things I see in the world, and also in myself. I show pride by doing better.