When I think of the word activist or advocate, images of picket sign welding passionate protesters, 60’s civil right hippies with afro raising the fist, burning bras, or someone staking out public officials to support a social injustice being undone are conjured up in my mind. All of these images and more are things that I seldom do. So you can imagine how I feel when some says “I admire you for being an activist/advocate.” I usually raise my eyebrow and say “huh?” I don’t feel deserving of that hat. It seem like it does not fit. Only things I do is lie in my bed with my dog and write a blog or stand in front of a camera, press record, and talk about my experience to be posted on Youtube. That is so minuscule compare to what I see other do on a constant bases. Activists to me are those staples in the community that are always doing something to uplift the community. These are those individuals that are always “involved.” Every community has those people.
Here in Houston, there are many of those people that go the extra mile for the community. One of those standout people for me is Big Yo.
Big Yo is a club owner who I met the first time I went out in this city. She is the owner of Club Big Yo in Houston, 2001 Commerce Street. There are other Texas locations and i think a Miami one. She is, after all the clubs I had been too, the first club owner that I saw actually partying in a club they owned. She lip-synched an old school drag number: “As We Lay” by Shirley Murdock. She was tall, dark chocolate, with some nice oiled up legs. Can we say yummy? I could tell by the crowd that this was a loving atmosphere for her. Although this club is predominantly African American lesbians, there are all representations of the LGBT community. They play R&B and Hip Hop. It is a very youthful crowd but the age range is wide like most alternative clubs. Regardless of the scenery, Big Yo was the Queen. That was when I first came to Houston. Later that year, I went to a pageant at a totally different establishment. The host began to talk about his experience with being homeless and how the only person who gave him a place to go was this lady. He pointed his finger to an Amazonian woman in the corner as she comes into the light, it is Big Yo. She was there to support the event and show her love. definitely a testimont to her integrity. More recently I was able actually speak to her. I was at her club and one of her worker(maybe even her lover) saw me and asked me to do a show. Now I’m not showgirl so that not my thing. She was a little forceful about the idea..lol. She said “Im going to introduce you to Big Yo.” She grabs my hand a lead me back to the stage where Big Yo was sitting. Big Yo smiled and hug me and said I smelled good..lol. I told her about my blog and Youtube. We chitchatted for a bit. She was refreshingly down to earth. I really enjoyed that. In my eyes, she is one of those nontraditional activists. She gives us a place to party and have fun where we can feel safe and be ourselves. She supports other aspects of the community and she give back. That makes people, like myself, admire her and be loyal to her causes. I respect that. So if I take that perspective and look into my own life and things I do. I share my life so that there is a real life image of a transgender woman of color out here for people to see. My stories are meant to make people feel good about themselves and not feel alone in the struggle of being trans. I do participate in events, not as organizer but as a spectator, in support of causes I believe in. If I look at it like that, then maybe that activist hat does fit a little bit better on my head. Either way, fitting or not, I hope that my legacy is just as visible as Big Yo’s or others I have been blessed to witness come into florescence.