Pride Voices | Deja Lynn Alvarez
In honor of the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which set off the LGBTQ movement, we share stories from members of the Philadelphia LGBTQ+ community, who continue the movement through their advocacy, visibility and activism.
Deja Lynn Alvarez
Trans Activist and Advocate
In Deja’s words:
Being a part of the LGBTQ community, especially being a transgender woman, I do a lot of different things and I always start my introductions off with, 'I'm a very proud transgender woman.' Part of my story is that it took me a long time to get to that point where I could be proud of who I am. Because we live in a world, we live in a society, that still condemns us. Pride Month started as a rebellion, the whole march and all of that started as a protest and a rebellion. But now I think Pride Month means a little something different. Now it means we can celebrate who we are, we can celebrate the progress we made, while also acknowledging all the work that still needs to be done.
When I ran for office last year and I was on the campaign trail, one of the first messages I got was not from a member of the LGBTQ community, it was from a young, Black single mother, who sent me a message. I still get emotional about it. It said that seeing me as a trans woman, as someone who is Latina, and a Trans woman who has faced all of these things running for public office, changed her idea about what she could do as a young, single, Black mother. I also of course got a lot of stuff from other trans people, younger trans folks who were [inspired?] to see someone [like] themselves doing this kind of work. Hopefully, it changed something in them where they didn't feel like they had to live according to the box society puts them in.
Now I'm doing a program, we're feeding during COVID-19, literally feeding a 1,000 immigrant, undocumented families per week, which also speaks to being part of the LGBTQ community doesn't mean we have to be boxed in. I don't have to just work hard to help LGBTQ people. For me, my goal is to help any marginalized community. And during COVID-19, the most marginalized community is the undocumented immigrant families, because there is no unemployment. There isn’t a stimulus check. A lot of them work in the food service industry, and all of these places that have been hit by COVID-19, so they're out of jobs. So being able to recognize that and then put together a program that is helping so many of them, for me, is oftentimes surreal.
Click the links below to read additional installments in our Pride Voices series.