Youth Voices: Marcha Pieces Talks About Stereotypes in LGBTQ Youth and Views on Political Justice

G Philly presents a new collaboration with youth from The Attic Youth Center to spotlight the creative magic and cultural contributions of Philly’s LGBTQ youth of color. Today, we present Marcha Pieces as he talks about being the “Grandmom” of The Attic, stereotypes in LGBTQ youth, views on political justice and more.

What is your favorite thing about you?
My ability to press on, regardless of the situation. I like to have a great insight on whatever happens. I’m very optimistic. I like helping people, and that’s why I got the name, “Grandmom” at The Attic, because I’m like the cheerful person that wants to know “How are things going? How’s life?” I’m always upbeat and look on the positive side, even when there’s not a positive side.

What do you think is a common misconception about youth?
That we are just young and wild, and that we take things for granted. We’re stereotyped very fast and easy, especially as LGBTQ youth. We’re stereotyped and put into these categories and people don’t know that those stereotypes effect how people look at the world and how they develop into something.

How would you also add onto that, the misconceptions about queer youth of color?
We’re all Ballroom kids, or we’re all sluts or thieves. You know, there’s nothing positive, and some stereotypes are true. Queer African American kids have a hard time accepting LGBT people, more so then other races of the LGBT community. I went to high school and I was in the suburbs. A majority of my LGBT friends were queer and trans* and they were Caucasian; they were accepting of any and everything. But, as soon as I started doing the Ballroom scene, androgyny was shamed upon. It’s was like, are you masculine or are you not, you know? I think it’s because they see their leaders do that. People seem to think there’s this book on how to be gay and there’s not. You are the book. You are the pen and the paper. You make your own destiny. If people forget that, then people start to mess up and then that becomes part of misconceptions. You see it a lot.

Is there a social cause that inspires you?
Whether it’s Black Lives Matter, Trans* Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, Bring Back Our Girls, positive things, or charity, I typically like to do anything that’s for justice. Regardless of skin color, tone, whatever, if it has a positive message, if this actually does something to help the community, and the rest of the people that we share this Earth with, why not support it?

So, then, is that your barometer for justice?
Yes and no. Some are for justice and some and just to raise awareness. I tend to think that if you don’t open your horizons to social causes, you tend to become ignorant and ignorant meaning, “not to know what’s out there.” For instance, there are LGBT social causes, but there’s so much within those causes (i.e.: Dyke March, Trans* March, Trans Conference and Alliance). I think it’s important to have an involvement in as much as possible. Oh, god, I sound like a politician. I’m never going to be a politician. [laughs]

Why aren’t you going to be a politician?
America’s not ready for me. America was barely ready for Obama. A gay president? They can barely accept that a female is running.

Where would you like to see improvement in the LGBT Philly community?
Everywhere, from the North-East to the North-West to the South, South-West, Center City. When a lashing, or a hate-crime happens, don’t treat it like it’s a harassment or a loud noise complaint. Actually, that’s the other way around, because I notice that police sometimes treat loud noise complaints or disruptions as a higher priority than when someone is jumped or gay-bashed.

I’ve also noticed that a lot of people are willing to accept female-identified females that like other female-identified females that dress masculine. It’s controversial, though, to have a boy that likes other men that dresses like a woman. It’s basically the same thing, but it’s only an issue when men do it and I hate that. It gets on my nerves. I think, why does it matter?