“…sometimes we’ll have arguments on what Jonas brother was hotter.”

Mariana Photo

“For me, bisexuality means I’m attracted to a person, honestly, regardless of gender or sex for me. That is a part of who a person is, it’s part of their identity, but I don’t see myself being restricted by how someone identifies to be able to be interested in them romantically or sexually.”

“I’m part of the ASU Chinese flagship program, so I’m going to be spending this summer abroad. I’m planning on doing a month in Spain and then two months in China, both language immersion, and then after I graduate I’m spending an entire year in China. I’ve heard about some research about the exposure to LGBT issues because I know from the western point of view the anti-LGBT is kind of rooted in religious issues. That’s where it originates from. But over there [in China] a lot of it has to do with just the unknown factor of it. That’s a huge part of it. And if you look back in Chinese history before Westerners came there, there were gay emperors that were talked about, it was just more accepted. But then when the western influence came in and shook things up and then with all their cultural revolutions, they’ve kind of gone to a place where they just want to keep this one image where you get a family of one kid, with a mom and a dad and you get a job and they go to college and they do their best. That kind of homogeneity has created a difficult culture for some people who identify as LGBT to come in and find their identity. But, it is changing very fast. The culture is changing over there because if you look back 50 years they were considered a rural third-world country and now if you go there they have some of the best technology in the world, the entire country has a mobile phone and is on their social media. I think there’s good prospects over there. But I know I am going to be a little intimidated and a little timid going there for the first time and showing my identity. I am bisexual and I know I’ll have to explain that to a lot of people. Be like this is actually what it is. I know there are going to be people there who literally won’t know what that is. It’s not coming from necessarily a place of malice but maybe just ignorance or never being exposed to that before.”

“Currently I’m with a partner and she is bisexual as well. That has really been something of comfort. We both understand that it’s kind of not around the gender, it’s around the person which has been something that’s really comforting for both of us and has strengthened our relationship and our outlook on the world because we’ll just like joke about it sometimes. We’ll be like “oh my gosh that’s so gay”, but then sometimes we’ll have arguments on what Jonas brother was hotter. So just being able to kind of have that freedom to fully express myself with a partner is really freeing.”

“One thing I got from when I was really young is I went to a Title One school in New Mexico in a largely Latino community, so there was a lot of students there who were, well DACA wasn’t around yet, but they would have been DACA. Their parents came over illegally or they were working to get their citizenship at like six years old. So I was really exposed to that at a young age. I definitely got to learn from that community just from hearing from my classmates about the experience that they’ve had that and their parents had. So immigration rights and making sure that people have proper immigration rights and are able to come to this country and be able to succeed and not have other people trying to hinder them from that is something that I see as very important. I recently interned with Congressman Ruben Gallego and his parents were from Mexico, but he was born in the states and we worked with about 14 DACA cases. When we heard DACA was going to get shut down, we were dealing weekly with thinking “is this person going to get deported?”. It’s one thing when you hear the numbers of 10,000 people are losing their DACA status. But it’s another thing when you’re hearing these people on the phone and when they’re telling you their entire livelihood is here. Saying “I don’t know what I’m going to do over there. I know no one over there. This is where I live, but people are telling me I don’t belong here”. Another part of it is being from New Mexico. There’s a lot of New Mexicans, people who’ve been here like 500 years and having people tell them to go back home, which is crazy because they can say “I’ve been here longer than your family has”.”

On talking to someone with different views:  “I would probably say to them, stop for a moment and listen to the person you’re talking to. Listen to them and just hear their experiences because I think a lot of times within politics and social issues, a lot of people already have their views. They’re stuck in their views and even though they’re going to talk to someone with other views, they’re not talking with them, they are talking at them. I think a huge part of just having a conversation around it is listening to that other  person who is homophobic, sitting down and talking with them and ask, why do you have this view? Why do you see me as an immoral person or an enemy? Because I see myself as just expressing myself and expressing how I love people and how I accept that and so being able to listen to them and see where they’re fear or anger comes from and being able to tell them that you don’t need to have that fear. I’m not a person to really be afraid of. I know a lot of LGBTQ people, they’re not trying to overthrow the world, they’re just trying to go about their lives and be able to have a happy life and be able to express that publicly. Being straight or LGBT is just another part of your entire identity. For example, I identify as bisexual, but I also identify as Latina and a political science major and a New Mexican and all these different things are what make me up. It’s not just bisexual. Talking to those people and letting them know it’s not something to be afraid of and when it comes down to it, it’s just the person expressing themselves. Like football fans, they love to express themselves and so even if you might not understand football, you’re still going to let them express themselves. But not letting people who simply love in a certain way do that- it’s really damaging for the individuals who are being oppressed…. I know if I wasn’t able to express my bisexuality I’d feel very constrained.”

“I would say ASU has been one of the most supportive communities for me. Once I came out, it was a community in which I was able to find people who were like me and who were different than me, but who are all able to support me and give me that space to grow. ASU really gives you that space to grow and that space to explore yourself. There’s 100,000 students who go here, there’s four different campuses and so like sky’s the limit so you can really learn to be yourself and you don’t have to be out, but if you want to be out you can be out and you don’t have to be out to everyone but you can be out to everyone. You can be in the secret garden and tell yourself, you know what? I’m gay. Or you could get up on the stage and grab a microphone and be like, I’m gay, and so you can really identify however you want here and be able to find your safe space.”

– Mariana, She/Her, Bisexual

Instagram @mariana_penya

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