In this exclusive interview with Mediaplanet, author and LGBTQ+ activist Gigi Gorgeous empowers Canadians to embrace their identity and teaches readers how to be true to themselves.
In what ways do you think Canada has progressed in accepting self-identity and self-expression?
Gigi Gorgeous: First, Canada has always been ahead of the times by actually offering coverage in some provinces of sexual reassignment, or gender-confirming, surgery. I remember reading about this when I was young when it was first introduced, and not realizing or understanding how monumental it was for the media to provide coverage for something so life-changing for people. Canada has always been accepting, but this is a huge example of how progressive this country is, and has been.
How do you handle criticism and negative feedback?
You have to take it with a grain of salt. You also have to step back and realize that some of it may be coming from a good place, and it’s constructive. But other times it’s not, and you have to have the ability to look at the person and try to understand where it might be coming from, and what they might be going through in their life that might be the root of what they’re saying. Or, ignore it altogether! What’s important is that you keep doing you.
What makes you most proud of being a part of the LGBTQ+ community?
There is so much that makes me proud to be part of this community, but I have to say that I’m currently the most proud than I’ve ever been. This summer, I will be the grand marshal for Toronto Pride which is truly a full circle moment.
When I was in high school, my best friend and I went to our first ever pride in the city I grew up in. We were too young to get into any of the events, so we just went into the street and experienced an energy that I never felt before. It was just so free! I looked to my left and there was a man in a full hot pink leather get up, and to my right there was a drag queen trailing a rainbow flag behind her. This was in the middle of the day, with all of the streets shut down; nothing like I’ve ever seen in Toronto. So this year, to be leading this charge I’ve never felt more proud and more proud of my community.
You have to take [criticism] with a grain of salt. You also have to step back and realize that some of it may be coming from a good place, and it’s constructive.
What does LGBTQ+ visibility mean to you?
LGBTQ+ visibility means that more lives are being changed. More and more people are sharing their stories, and you never know who you are going to be affecting…or affected by! Whether it’s a coming out video on Youtube, or sharing your experience with a friend on twitter, reposting something you are inspired by on Instagram. Every bit of this visibility matters.
Where we are at now, we as a community are being heard. In mainstream media, we are seeing more LGBTQ+ talent being represented. This is so important because we are becoming more of a household topic. It’s so inspiring to see more representation of our community out there.
You recently wrote a book titled He Said, She Said, what is the main message you’re trying to tell your readers?
The main message in my book is not just one for the LGBTQ+ community, but one for everyone out there. No matter what your struggles are, or where you come from, you can achieve anything you set your mind to despite the lessons you may learn and mistakes you make along the way. And not just despite the mistakes, but BECAUSE OF the mistakes as well. And, there’s some good takeaway with all of the fabulous photos in there as well… just saying!
What have you learned about yourself through the process of writing this book?
I have learned through the process of writing this book, that I’m stronger than I ever thought I was. Reflecting on so many years back, and having to write it all down; categorize each story and moment of my life into chapters, digging deeper than ever before. I was reliving everything all over again, and it was an incredibly emotional process. But now having people read it, and seeing people hold it in their hands, there is nothing that makes that whole process more worth it than this.
What was the most challenging part of transitioning?
The process of transitioning is all super crazy. I’d have to say the first few months, like with anything you are trying for the first time, is truly the hardest. This is when you are having to tell and educate people about your new identity. Living in that new gender right away is not easy, and you have to power through those first few months until people start coming on board. I remember making my first Youtube channel about this, telling my dad and all of my friends, none of it was easy. You just have to stay convicted and strong.
What advice would you give LGBTQ+ youth?
My main advice is that you are stronger in numbers. It’s all about who you surround yourself with, and make sure those people build you up and support you. You need to be there for each other. You need to talk to each other. The same advice goes for parents; people listen to your children, talk to them, tell them they are beautiful and accepted. For kids, and anyone really, take the time and tell someone they look beautiful today. You have no idea what those simple words might do, or how they might affect someone.