We all were looking for our heroes as children. Each kid was trying to find someone like him on screen, find someone that he can associate himself with. Asya, a young, queer, fem, vegan activst, that decided to share piece of him with us, can be a relatable hero for young queers seeking for representation. He fights for animal rights and cares about mental health. He is a part of Riga Animal Save organization, a 21 years old non-binary, genderfluid person and someone who really changes the world around by little steps. I was happy to have that interesting and informative conversation with them and hope you will enjoy it as well.
How did you come to your identity, when, tell us more?:
I have always, since childhood, understood that something is different, something is unusual, something fruity is happening. But I couldn't figure out exactly who I was until I started searching for information, reading articles. I guess I didn't even come out officially as a genderfluid person, just everybody knows and you can see it. I just talk about it openly, my friends and everyone I am talking to just accept it. I am who I am, I don't have to explain it.
How would you describe situation for queer people in Latvia and you sfecifically?:
As far as I know, according to statistics, Latvia is one of the most homofobic countries in Europe,with the roughest conditions for us. And I can say that it was hard at school, it's good that schooltime has already ended. And now when I go somewhere in society, especially in summer, when I don't have a coat or something on and I don't look like a dumpling, but i am in my usual look: lots of glitter, lots of sparkles, lots of me, I am usually pointed at, laughed at, people make pictures. That's so disgusting. I feel very anxious at moments like this, especially with my disorders and mental issues. I don't understand people sometimes. There was a situation when people were trying not only to take pictures of me secretly, but also verbally provoke me. Also, once I was waiting for a bus and some guys were trying to reach me even physically, I took the first bus that wasn't even mine and left. That was hell.
How changes are happening in Latvia concerning gay/queer people, maybe there are some improvements?:
I'd say we are slow,we are moving very slowly, trying to get away from Soviet conditions and traditions that still take place unfortunately. Community is growing, getting bigger and, of course, it helps with improvements. And there is Baltic Pride once in couple of years. This year it's going to be here in Latvia, by the way. I hope it will be nice and COVID-19 won't disturb the event. I took part in previous pride and even have some funny stories from it.
A lot of not-cisgender people are not that open to talk about and to discuss theid identity, why did you decide that it is important for you to talk about it?:
When I was growing up and trying to find myself, there were no people who talked about sexualities and identities, especially in post-Soviet countries. And it is important for me that people with similar situation could have help, support and representation. Also I am a neurodivergent person, and I want to represent this part of the community, because my neurodivergent leads to me being aromantic, for example. That's important for me that not only neurotypical people talk about it, but also people like me. I really want to raise awareness of mental problems, issues, disorders, and spread information.
What piece of advice would you give people who are trying to find themselves, to figure out who they are?:
First of all, do not try to base yourself, your personality, your identity on somebody else's view of you, I'd advise not to rush, take your time and discover yourself slowly, that's a path, that's a long process of self realising and I still learn something new about myself, like I have found that I am actually genderfluid and that's cool. I can say that it is like the evolution of myself. I'd like to say don't hide yourself, but not everybody has a great relationship with their parents, not a supportive environment, so take your time. Be yourself if you have this opportunity and listen to yourself more.
Can you tell us more about your activism?:
Well, I am vegan first of all, for five years already. Actually I do a lot of things, I am a little bit of designer, I like volunteer work, sometimes I help at animal shelters. In Riga Animal Save I am a full time activist, we held vigils (this is farewell with animals near the staughterhouses), also we used to make different actions for animal's rights every week before covid started. And I talk about mental health, feminism, queer comunity on Internet as well.
What do you think schools can change or provide so queer and neurodivergent people could feel safe?:
First of all, need to allow on govermental level not heterosexual people to marry each other or at least cohabitation, we have a program that fights for allowing legal cohabitation between homosexual couples, but unfortunatley it is not voted for in parlament now. Also we should raise awarness about mental health problems and stop talking about mental issues and homosexuality like it is a taboo.