Happy International Women’s Day

Hello everybody. I would like to take a moment and share something with you. I recall when I was a kid, I would play with make up but was harshly criticized by my grandparents (who adopted and raised me since I was born) because of their Catholic up brings and living in a red neck environment. I have always admired female heroes. I prefer them over male heroes. I didn’t understand why at the time but that is how I remembered. I started to question everything. Sexuality. Gender. And the whole conformity, I decided it is not okay and challenge every chance I can where gender conformity is concerned. Then came, Madonna. It started to make sense. She was my role model. In 1984, it was her time when she was a rising international female star. When she did Vogue, I love her grace, style, and attitude. In her lyrics, she named several females. I figured they were important so I did research and this led me to watch many old Hollywood films. I then studied history of their time and realized that it links to women movement on many levels. At 16, I joined the first protest which was NOW, National Organization for Women, in Washington, DC. It was powerful. I learned so much more about oppression, gender inequality, and the conformity I decided to stand with women because I am a male with male privilege. I wanted to be their ally. I want to do more. I unpacked and recognize my male privileges. I started to understand the importance of intersectionality. I decided to break rules, the conformity and challenge males to get out of their male bubble and see what is happening and take responsibility how they played a role in sexism, gender inequality and heterosexism. I advocated few women in getting out of their Domestic Violence situation. When I was working in Seattle at Starbucks as a shift manager, this young female in her mid 20’s sat inside and watched me. This made me uncomfortable and decided to approach her and find out what was going on. She’s Deaf. She moved here from another country. She knew no English. She knew very a little of ASL. She was in awe how confident I was working as a manager at a hearing store in a high paced environment. I had a gut feeling she was crying for help although she seemed together and happy. I secretly gave her a free Mocha Frap and told her to meet me after work. She happily agreed and left. When I got off from work, there she was. I asked a few questions while learning her story, and how to align with her. I was then convinced that she was screaming for help. I then asked her if her boyfriend is hurting her. She spilled her story. I then asked for her permission if I could advocate her and get out of this situation. She said yes though she was afraid because I was another male. I went with her to her apartment and read the whole phone message from her boyfriend making death threats, wanting to rape her, and degrading comments. I explained to her every step I would make so she knows what is going on and she can back out at anytime she feels unsafe. I told her I am going to call the police and have police file a report, with the report, I can use this to file a restraining order against her boyfriend. She had no clue what a restraining order was, how to file it and was pretty much scared. I was with her every step of the way. Police came. I explained to them my role and showed them evidence. We discussed how to make her safe, they agreed to give her a necklace with a remote button used for senior citizen to use in calling 911 from a fall, or medical emergency in case her boyfriend approached her. Police then informed manager to change locks. They agreed. I then took her to downtown courthouse and advocated her in filing a restraining order. I explained everything in ASL for her and made sure she understood everything before I signed the preparation signature. I explained to her that we have to meet the Judge and convinced the Judge why she needs a temporary RO granted before a hearing. She trusted me and agreed to go with me to face the Judge. I represented her. I prepared her case and successfully convinced the Judge to grant her a temporary RO. I checked on her everyday until the court date of a hearing on decision whether she shall be granted a permanent RO. We showed up together. I represented her. I cross examined the predator and made a closing statement. Judge decided he was guilty and because he had a green card, he was deported. She cried happily and moved out, moved on with her life being free. This was unique case because of language barriers but fact remains that she was bullied, raped, and exploited because she was a woman.

Later on, I took a major lead role in ” To Know History is to Know Herstory ” as a professor teaching history about women movement. It was a proud experience where I had the opportunity to perform while educating our audience about sexism. It was a four month of grueling rehearsal. The play was all deaf,  and of course, voice interpreted. It hit home. That final closing of the play, my grandma passed away. I still have the DVD of my work.

Now in Portland where I unfortunately fell victim of Domestic Violence with my ex where we dated only briefly. At the end, he took off his mask and went on full fledged monster. He did everything he could to kill me. Thankfully the police showed up on time. Things went for the worse because police refused to provide ASL interpreters and believed my abuser only because he was hearing and I was deaf. So, it was a case of homophobia, ableism, and audism. In result, I almost died. I never thought it would happen to me but it did. I had to fight every fiber of my being to hold him accountable, to hold the police accountable, and to hold the City accountable in despite of all the emotional hurt I was dealing with. A permanent Protective Order was granted for three years. I pressed charges against my abuser and prior to his trial, he committed suicide. I then sued the City of Portland and successfully won the settlement with an agreement that the City implement a new directive policy which focuses on how police properly interacts with Deaf/DeafBlind/HoH civilians while ensuring their rights being protected. Though this directive policy has not be implemented yet, I am working on getting it implemented…

To this day, I still love female heroes. I have high respect for women who fought for equality. Recently, I saw Academy Awards where most female actors wore black dress in support for every survivors with their bravery to come out and say enough is enough, especially in Hollywood. This inspired the #MeToo movement. This is the first time I am coming out public with a note the fact that I stand with #MeToo because it happened to #MeToo. I was raped when I was 16 and I was a virgin.

Please take the day and recognize International Women’s Day. More women are taking high offices. More women are taking a stand against injustice. More women are taking the lead as a leader. Recognize that we are talking about our sisters, mothers, grandmothers, grand grandmothers, aunts, cousins, niece, peers, classmates, teachers, co-workers, and so on we males must take a stand with women. We must address the rise of toxic masculinity. We must address the white male tears. We must address the male fragility. We ALL are responsible in reinforcing that and we must figure out how to stop reinforcing that. I am not threatened by women power. I am actually inspired and am very excited to see women taking the lead today. Women plays a huge role on many levels where intersectionality is concerned. Love our women more. That’s all I have to say.

 

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