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Sunny and Out: LA Political Queers

The West Coast is called the Left Coast for a reason. Despite pockets of Trumpland, the area is predominantly liberal and not afraid to show it. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done. Photographer David Vassalli checked in with three LA queer activists who are helping to inspire and ignite the next LGBTQ generation through dance, fashion, and giving fucks when necessary.

Ryon Wu, 20

How are you speaking out in 2017?
Being queer and Asian, I feel it is important to speak out and encourage others to be more inclusive of people of all types. Whenever I witness any homophobia, racism, or hate of any kind, I make sure to always speak out against it. Some may feel not speaking out avoids conflict, but in the end, staying silent can lead to more harm. Especially with the political climate we are currently in, silence comes close to siding with and enabling the problem. It’s a very crucial time for everybody to support one another and stay strong through this time of chaos. Throughout my life, I have endured hatred, whether it be from homophobia or racism. Experiencing these things from such a young age was traumatizing for me, and it’s heartbreaking knowing that minorities everywhere are suffering because of Trump and the hate he encourages.

What advice do you have for queer youth?
Don’t be afraid to express yourself. As cheesy as it sounds, I don’t feel like I started enjoying life until I stopped caring about what people thought of me and started being me. Go out, have fun, dress how you want, and do what you want (as long as it isn’t causing harm to anyone, of course). Stay brave and don’t ever feel ashamed of being yourself.

Tyler Lazzari, 22

How are you speaking out in 2017?
Given our newly elected POTUS, the importance of speaking out against injustice has become more dire than ever. There are many different ways one can speak out, but my preferred method is through art, performance, and fashion. When I get dressed, I’m wearing a statement. Whether I’m in heels, a wig, or simply a t-shirt and shorts, it’s a statement. You’d be surprised how much impact you can make just by wearing something that truly represents yourself, regardless of what people think. In order for us to break these hateful and backwards views against LGBTQ / POC, we must continue to push boundaries.

What advice do you have for queer youth?
My advice would be to keep your head up, and don’t match hate with hate. Growing up I would get infuriated when people would taunt and tease me, but as the years went on, I realized none of it mattered and that I was above it. The funniest thing about it is that those same boys that used to tease me hit me up on Grindr after graduation. That’s when I realized that they didn’t hate me, they envied my courage to be true to myself. Be yourself. It can and will inspire those around you that are hiding their true colors from the world. Stay beautiful.

Love Bailey, timeless

How are you speaking out in 2017?
By creating an all inclusive platform called the Slather Factory, where we invite all our queer friends to slather love on thick and dance to whatever sets their hearts on fire.

What advice do you have for queer youth?
Your energy is a currency. Use it wisely, and don’t let anyone take your magic without an equal exchange. Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing, and make contracts to protect yourself against exploitation. Put the power back in your hands, and speak up against discrimination and injustice. The time is now. The future is in your hands!

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