I was born in Bethesda, Maryland. My biological mother, Sharon, had a 48-hour labor and finally brought me into this world. She then gave me away to her parents, my grandparents 4 days after I was born due to hardship circumstances. Sharon was a rock star wannabe. She often traveled on the road with the band. She didn’t want me to be exposed to her lifestyle. She wasn’t prepared to take responsibility for raising me. She was 21 when she had me. I was her first child. She wanted what was the best for my future by giving me to her parents. My grandparents very gladly took me home in a tiny town, Alma which is located in upstate, New York where my grandparents resided all their lives. Alma is not located on most maps because it is tiny town. My grandparents which I call mom and dad since they practically raised me.
At 18 months old, my mom suspected that I was deaf, so my parents took me to doctor and confirmed that I was born deaf. My parents were clueless about raising a deaf child. They knew no sign language. They knew nobody else who’s deaf they could turn to for bits of advice. Doctors recommended sending me to a private boarding school in Buffalo, New York which is three hours drive away from home. I started there at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf at age 4. I eventually learned sign language through deaf peers. I then taught my parents some sign language when I was 7 years old. So there was a very little communication with my parents early on. My relationship with my parents was difficult because of communication barriers, and being away from home. I stayed at school from Monday through Friday. I stay home during weekends, holidays and summer. I grew up in a very isolated environment at home. In coping, I practically raised a small farm with 50 chicken, 50 ducks, 50 rabbits, a goat, a dog, a cat, a hamster, a talking bird, and fishes. I often drove my parents up the wall when I bring rescued animals home with me. Bless my parents, I won every time and raised rescued animals. As they got old enough, I let them go back to the wilderness. I lived by a huge hill with a river. I often explored in the wilderness with my rescued dog, Muffy. I championed at Boys Scout, so I was pretty much a very independent explorer very early on. My dad taught me how to hunt, fish, cook, start a fire, skin animals, and all survival tools since we pretty much lived in the woods growing up early as 5 years old. When I was 7, I learned how to drive a huge tractor all by myself, so I could break up a football size field and planted corn, peas, beans, pumpkin, onions, zucchinis, squash and sunflowers. My parents were poor. My dad married my mom after World War 2. My mom’s mom had 14 siblings, due to Catholicism. We moved next door, run-down house. My dad and his friend taught me how to build a house. My dad’s friend died a month after helping in building our future house due to heart failure. It pretty much was my dad and me. It was a modest, three-story white house with four bedrooms, and a huge storm cellar where we stored food and a room where we skinned bear, deer, rabbit, and chicken from hunting. Also fish also from fishing. We had 2 acres of the lawn, so my parents got a mowing lawn tractor. I learned how to drive that at age 7. After the house was done, we moved in. We then built a garage, redid a barn and dens for all of our animals.
At 11, I discovered I was adopted, it still didn’t change my love for my parents although I was upset that I wasn’t told by my parents. I decided to wait before I meet my biological mom later on. I had my plate full of school, and home. I stopped going to church. I started to question everything about God. When I turned 14, I decided that St. Mary’s is unsafe for me. Tension built at home. I was granted a transfer to a different school. A public school near home. My education caught up though I had no social activities after school because I was the only deaf student at the school.
At 16, my life spiraled out of control at school, and at home. My biological mom was killed in a car accident due to a DUI driver who passed red light and killed my mom instantly. Her best friend who was with her survived and hospitalized for 3 months. She then committed suicide. I was before then ready to meet my mom and made plans to fly to visit her for the first time. I instead, went to her funeral. My only close uncle then died of lung cancer. I no longer fit or felt safe at home. I decided to obtain court so I could leave home on my own legally and find my way wherever I want to go. The court granted, so I left home at 16. It was the hardest decision I ever made at 16. I transferred to a different school again, this time, 300 miles away from home. I enrolled at Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, DC. I was home. It was the first time in my life I felt I can do whatever I want and I pretty much did very that. Everybody signed in America Sign Language. Half of the teachers are deaf. All students were from different states across America. We even had exchange students from another country. Since I had access to FULL communication, I decided to conquer by joining Student Body Government. I was elected as Vice President. I pretty much stayed in DC through my junior and senior year. I would fly home to visit my parents during the holidays. I stayed in DC through two summers. I purposely took my friend home with me for the holidays just to make a point because I realized why I couldn’t fit at home. My parents were sadly, racists, bless their hearts, they never were exposed to POC and grew up in a very conservative white redneck town all their lives. They only traveled once on their honeymoon. Of course, my parents weren’t very pleased when I introduced my black friend. Then next holiday, I took a latino friend home with me. My parents grew frustrated with me. They slowly understood why I left home. At graduation, it was the hardest day of my life because I finally earned respect for what I did for the students and school. I had no idea what I will do afterward. I was terrified, but I stayed in DC anyway and kinda hung around. A couple months later, I met a student from Gallaudet University who was about to leave Gally and go back home in Los Angeles. He convinced me to go with him and start a new life as roommates in Los Angeles. I took that opportunity and moved LA. A few weeks later, I survived January 17, 1994, of a scale 7.0 earthquake which struck Northridge. I lived in West Hollywood which was pretty much affected.
I started my job at The Gap in Beverly Hills as a salesperson at age 20. I worked there for a year but wasn’t ever promoted after several pleas, I decided to leave Gap due to job discrimination, sought ligation and got a settlement. That was my opportunity to travel other countries such as France and Holland throughout the entire summer. I also visited many major cities such as Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Palm Springs, San Diego, and so on. I then decided to enroll in Make Up. I have always loved makeup as a child. I love Halloween. I graduated from Westmore Academy of Cosmetic Arts. I then studied Cosmetology at Marinello Beauty School, both in LA. I then got a job at Sephora on the spot. I worked there for two years full time and was the top make up artist at the store. I built clients and started exploring outside Sephora. I did weddings, photography, film, and so forth. It was very exciting to experience. I got to paint celebrities and beautiful people from different walks of life.
I visited my parents once every two years. When I was 28, I decided to visit home and tried to resolve my estranged relationship with my dad, but he didn’t want anything to do with me, so I went back home in LA. That was when he committed suicide.
I decided to visit Seattle and fell in love, so I moved there 2002. I then landed at MAC, my dream job. I worked there for one year, full time. I then decided to work freelance. That was a scary experience, but in order to support myself, I worked at Starbucks, full time as a barista, I got promoted to a shift supervisor after 6 months. I transferred to a different store because of my promotion and faced discrimination, so one day, I decided to walk out. I knew then I wanted to do more. Help people. I decided then Seattle is not for me anymore as it grew rapidly which no longer the Seattle I once knew. I was working on a film in Portland, Maine at the time. Before my trip, I took a detour and visit my mom because I had a strong feeling that she was nearly time to transition. I said goodbye just in case. I held back tears. She was so happy to see me. It was a surprise visit. After the visit, I walked to my car and broke down. A few weeks later, my mom fell and went into a coma then died. I was then a survivor of my entire family.
I moved to Portland. I fell in love with Portland. The trees, parks, rivers, bridges, clean air, and especially, the people. I did odd jobs which were a struggle for me. A few years later, I briefly dated and faced domestic violence which turned my life upside down. I survived after the police failed to provide ASL interpreter which compromised my life. I almost died. I decided this was the last straw since I have had many negative encounters with the police due to communication barriers, I sought ligation and got a settlement. Something inside me woke up. I finally knew then exactly what I want to do. I retired 20 years of makeup and pursued in politics. Again, it was a scary move, but I sure am glad I did. I then joined Portland Commission on Disability.
I have helped raise over $3K and donated to Bradley Angle House for domestic violence survivors to get service, resources, and support. I then was awarded from the Q center as one of their 15 queer heroes in Portland last 2015. That means so much to me that I am recognized for my hard work. This hit home. Then 2016, I got a surprise plaque award from Oregon Association of the Deaf last 2016 for the Most Distinguished Service. I was truly touched. I have gone to Salem several times for two years in showing up before our Governor, House Representatives, and Senates on several bills where it impacts on our deaf community here in the state of Oregon.
After my last term with PCOD, I helped draft an ordinance on Turning Captions On with few other organizations such as Oregon Association of the Deaf, Hearing Loss Association of Portland Chapter, Oregon Communication Access Project, Telecommunication of the Deaf, Inc., and LNS Captioning, Inc. I was asked by them and quickly jumped into their work, lobbied, pushed, and met with Amanda Fritz. Amanda heard me. After it passed, I cried in happy tears. That was a huge deal for me. I decided to continue with PCOD for a second term. That was when I was elected as an alternate for Community Oversight Advisory Board. That was when I took classes and got certified as a home care provider. I cared for a deaf, disabled senior citizen woman for a year while working for Uber. COAB was the core where I dedicated my free hours on for two years. I then became a voting member after few weeks COAB formed. It was the most challenging experience I ever took on. I took Civilian Police training which gave me a better perspective. My passion grew stronger on police reform. I only missed one COAB meeting through two years due to neck surgery. That was a very scary experience but thanks to my chosen family, they offered support because I live alone. I had to quit Uber and caregiver job because I had a major mobility issues and recovery time. After COAB “expired,” I was hired as a role player at Department of Public Safety Standard Training in Salem. Transportation was challenging, but a friend who has a house in Salem supported me and made it possible by loaning a truck. Bless their hearts, while I was honored to have the opportunity to expose new officers on how to interact with deaf civilians like myself, I also educated them that there are many different situations where communications barriers happens not just because a person is deaf, for example, a person experiencing mental health crisis, a person being high on drugs, a person speaking another language, and so on. I believed I gave a unique perspective for all new officers while I saw the root of the problem with the police at work. After 6 months contract expired with DPSST, I focused on city hall sessions and realized then I wanted to do more. That was when it dawned on me that I shall run for City Council 2018. While this is definitely a big challenge for me to take on, I believe in myself that I can learn and be so much more for the city. I believe in Portland community. I believe that Portland can be so much more if I took a role as a City Council. While Portland is a beautiful city, I have countless concerns with many issues behind the beautiful city. I promise you that you will be heard. I promise you that you will be taken seriously as I value you as a community because you come first. I want to empower you as a leader. You are a leader whether you know it or not. I want all of us to share ideas, work together, love and conquer. I am here to serve you and will serve you to the best of my abilities. I believe that City Council needs change and it starts with you because you are the change. I am fed up with NE Portland being ignored. I am fed up with racism running deep in Portland. I am fed up with inequality in society, economy, and limited resources here in Portland. I’m fed up with injustice with the police. With my leadership, experience and passion, I believe I can contribute to changes that need to happen here in Portland. Join with me for change here in Portland. Let’s change together. Together, we work, love and conquer.