Born in Philippines
Age 2 immigrated to Queens, NY
Age 27 move to Boston, MA
Filipino, female, queer, activist, artist
*Taiko drummer & photographer*
Photo by: Michael Simonitsch.
A memory… is when I brought my girlfriend (now wife) to Easter dinner with my family. At that point, I hadn’t even come out to most of them so I introduced her as my friend. When you are intimate with someone, it is difficult to hide that connection and I could tell that my family quickly realized that she was not just my friend. I felt it in the room that they understood and were not happy. After dinner, one of my aunts, who I thought would be the most understand, sent me an email flatly asking me if I was gay. I thought to myself, ‘This is easy. She asked me. So I’ll answer.’ I was still afraid, but she was the ‘cool’ aunt so I wrote to her and said ‘Yes, I am dating Jenn. I hope you can be happy for me because I am finally in a place where I am learning to be happy with who I am.’ I was surprised that the response was not as understanding as I thought it would be. It stuck with me until today. My family has slowly come around to accepting our relationship and who I am. They have always said they had an issue with the relationship and not me, but if you can’t accept the relationship and who I love- you aren’t accepting me as a whole. That memory sticks with me so much because I was really hurt by that response. Being visible for me is also being visible in my family. At one point, I had asked myself, ‘If they don’t accept me… how involved with my family do I really need to be? Do I stick around? Do I fight for this or do I walk away?’ I made the decision to fight to keep my family, and to work through this with them. As much as this was a process for me, it is also a process for them. It took me all this time to be honest with myself and to learn to love myself, I should only expect that it will also take time for them. Visibility isn’t always being on a stage claiming who I am (though I often am doing that with The Genki Spark), but is also being visible with my family.
This campaign as part of MAP Health’s visibility social media campaign. After a community wide nomination process Genki Spark member, Lee Ann Teylan was selected to be honored. Please check out the profiles of the other amazing Boston based honorees which include Sarath Suong, Narong Sokham, Hema Sarang-Simenski, Cassie Luna, and Maxwell Ng.
Congratulations Lee Ann!