In this exclusive interview with Mediaplanet, LGBTQ2+ YouTuber, author of He Said, She Said: Lessons, Stories, and Mistakes from My Transgender Journey, and icon Gigi Gorgeous shares her personal story and offers advice for others who may be struggling to find themselves.
How does it feel to be such a role model to the LGBTQ2+ community?
I look at the LGBTQ2+ community as my family and friends, so I actually see a lot of them as role models for me. A lot of really close friends in my life are part of the community, I have a lot of pen pals and people I stay in touch with who also identify, so it’s nothing short of an honour to be perceived in this light. I’ve been sharing my story with others for years, and to know that there are people out there who can relate and who have gotten the help they needed because of it, I feel so incredibly humbled.
How do you feel about the representation of the trans community in media?
I actually feel pretty good about it currently, we’ve taken some much-needed major strides with representation in TV and film. I’m currently watching Veneno on HBO Max and have been connecting with a few of the stars from the show via social media about how much it means to see them on TV. A show like that wouldn’t be on TV 10 years ago, and there are many other shows and films out there that have this visibility and I’m here for it.
You mentioned that you’ve come out twice, once as transgender and then as a lesbian. What was the most challenging part?
Every coming-out experience is unique so you really can’t compare the two. When I came out as transgender, I was already transitioning into a new person in front of everyone. I felt like I really had to break it down for people — my soul hasn’t changed, my heart hasn’t changed, I was just asking to be called a different name and to be seen for who I really was inside. When I came out as a lesbian, I felt it was more of a natural progression. I didn’t have to sit everyone down and explain. I met someone who was really important to me and I just wanted to share it with the world, so I definitely wasn’t as nervous!
What was the most memorable experience you have had celebrating Pride in Toronto as Grand Marshal?
Well, I have to admit that I had some war wounds! I got so glammed up to be Grand Marshal and had these long ponytails on either side of my head. We were riding down the middle of the road sitting on top of a convertible with the sun just beating down on us, with no sunscreen, and at the end of the parade my scalp was so sunburned that it was literally scabbed for almost two weeks afterwards. I thought I was developing psoriasis or something!
But honestly, the whole experience was so much fun. I had all of my friends there, my family, so many people who mean so much to me that it was a little overstimulating. But what an experience to be super out, super loud, and proud! I remember my first Toronto Pride I felt like I had to sneak away to enjoy it, so this was a really beautiful full-circle moment for me to be there with so many friends and family.
What were some of the hardships you experienced growing up in a gender-normative community? Did this affect the journey to finding yourself?
Some of the biggest struggles were just having people get past my exterior, to accept my differences and just see the real me. I’ve struggled my whole life with people having a preconceived notion of the transgender community and I kept having to break that mold to be seen as a human being.
People were already telling me I was “different,” applying every stereotype in general to me, and I would just have to keep repeating, “I’m Gigi, I’m human, you can’t keep putting me in this box.” This definitely affected my journey and put a lot of doubts in my head. Am I different? Is this normal? Even though this may have delayed my journey, it truly made me stronger. It gave me thicker skin and made me a fiercer individual!
How was your experience of writing your journey in a book, rather than filming it through YouTube?
I had to dive really deep for the book, there were tons of stories that I didn’t fully remember until they were spewing out of me as I was writing. I know its cliché to say that “writing a book is so cathartic,” but it really was. I had to take myself back in time to that moment and ask, “Who is this girl? Who was this person?” It’s kind of trippy, looking back and putting yourself back in those shoes and mindset again. But it helped me grow a lot. I think that people had a different take-away reading the book as they were able to see my journey through their own lens and apply it to their own lives, instead of seeing it through mine on my channel. That’s the beauty of words on a page versus visuals on a screen.
What advice do you want to give to the LGBTQ2+ youth?
Right now, more than ever, it’s okay to be uncertain. The world is uncertain right now. As I’m writing this, I’m about to go into another lockdown in California and all I want to do is to get out there and to keep living my life, but we can’t. When we can, I know it will be so much better and brighter as we have so much to be grateful for. There’s a quote that I live by: “You can only appreciate your highest highs when you’ve been through the lowest lows.” The world is going through the lowest of lows right now, so it’s okay to acknowledge that you’re uncertain. Or, if you’re feeling great! It’s just about being okay with expressing whatever you’re feeling right now. I can’t wait to get back out there and hug all of the LGBTQ2+ youth, it’s something I truly miss the most.
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