Episode 4: Johanna Toruño & Amy Quichiz: Joy in Queer Latina Love on Instagram
Transcribed by Katheleen Conti
Short Hand Transcription Legend:
** – asterisks represent actions and descriptions of when something is said without the running conversationational tone.
“” – quotations represent phrases that are quoted from the past or referencing a specific title/topic.
Bolded – bolded words are words said with verbal emphasis
Italicized – Words said in Spanish
🎵 – music notes represent audio cues being played
[Soulful solo acapella vocals] It’s a Revolutioooonnnnnnn, ow!
Gabby Rivera: On this week’s episode, oh we are sitting down with one of my favorite couples, Johanna and Amy, and we are going to talk about the Joy in Queer Latina Instagram Love. [Giggles] It’s a thing, y’all, it’s a thing!
[Swoosh sound transition]
Johanna Toruño: I mean, listen, like, platonic love is what led to raise our romantic relationship. We were friends first.
Amy Quichiz: Date your friends?
Johanna: Date your friends!
Gabby: Date. Your. Friends.
Johanna: Get messy!
[Swoosh sound transition]
[Joy Revolution theme song softly plays in the background]
Gabby: Hello! I’m Gabby Rivera, your butch, papi, soft loverboi, babe who will drop everything to make you a fresh sopita when you’re sick and I’ll slather you in all the Vicks VapoRub because I love you so much. And this is Joy Revolution! The podcast that asks, “How do you prioritize Joy?”
Gabby: I’m a loverboi. I believe in romantic love, platonic love, love languages, love on some gorgeous human hips, love that includes sex, love that doesn’t, all the love, just cover me in it. And I’m especially so geeked, right, oh my goodness, when two queer Latina babes find love with each other, that is magic, that is future manifest. So I’m so excited to have two such magical babes on Joy Revolution. We have Amy Quichiz, is the founder of Veggie Mijas, a plant-based women of color collective out of New York City, and she’s an outreach and education specialist for Planned Parenthood, among also being a babe and a fierce femme. We also have Johanna Toruño, a Salvadoran-born, and New York-based community-taught visual artist. She is the creator and founder of The Unapologetic Street Series. Johanna’s work has been featured in The Huffington Post, NYLON, Bustle and The New York Times. And, so, today on Joy Revolution we’re talking to Amy and Johanna, two activist Latinx dream babes in love, hello and welcome.
Amy and Johanna: Hiii!
Johanna: I’m so excited. I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. My eyes hurt.
Amy: Your energy radiates within me.
Gabby: Yes! Thank you! Listen! Ok, we’ll go one at a time. I would love- Amy, why don’t you tell everyone in your own words who you are, what, if any, pronouns you’re using today, and what you do.
Amy: So, hi everyone, thank you so much for having me in your podcast.
Gabby: Of course.
Amy: I’m so honored.
Amy: And what I do is I’m the founder of Veggie Mijas, a plant-based collective that is not only in New York, but also in 12 different states. And my pronouns are she and hers and, yeah, that’s a little bit about me.
Johanna: Yes, what’s up everyone, my name is Johanna Toruño. I’m the creator of the Unapologetic Street Series. I’m a visual artist utilizing public space to disrupt, make a scene, highlight, and empower communities of color, specifically queer folx of color.
Gabby: And now, this is something that I really love to do, is like, I love fawning over people that I love, right? Just, like, covering folx in love. And I gotta say, this is not hyperbole, like, to me, y’all are like future manifest, right? I’m 37 years old, and growing up, like, I never would have imagined two tatted up, brown, like, you know Latinx, like, queer, like, femme, and, and, and, and just, like, women in love with each other, being all young and in- out in the world! And in public! Like, that was just not a concept that I could’ve had in my reality, know what I mean? And so, [giggles]. And on top of it! And on top of it, the kind of love that I see y’all share is, like, abundant, and soft, and joyful, and, like, you know, just som- another type of love that I had no concept of, either. And so I want to ask y’all, right, like, what has been your experience of joy in love, first, individually, right, like, if there was, like, a before this relationship, was there joy and love that you experienced? And what is that joy in this love? Amy, imma start with you.
Amy: Okay. Alright, so have I been in joy in other relationships? I would say ‘no.’ [Chortles] I would say I’ve been in very toxic relationships. I didn’t know what joy, or what a healthy relationship looked like, um, before Johanna. And I think that being in love and in joy has been so powerful for me because I didn’t grow up seeing that, I didn’t grow up seeing queer women, or queer folx in general being in love and being so visible. Um, I remember the first time that I ever saw queer people in general was when I was like 7 years old and I was in the car and I saw queer people coming out of the queer parade and my mom was like, ‘nunca vayas a jangear con esa gente.’ (‘Don’t you ever hang out with those people.’)
Amy: And I’m like [gasps]. And I’m like, ‘Damn, but they look so happy!’
Amy: And, like, ‘They look so in love!’ And like, I literally got butterflies in my stomach as a 7-year-old, but I didn’t know why. And-
Gabby: Those gay butterflies.
Amy: Yeaaaaah. And then, you know, I feel like I have those same butterflies as I did as I was 7 when I’m with Johanna, so I think that’s what joy means.
Gabby: [Laughing] We have almost [unintelligible]. And now follow that, Johanna, good luck.
Gabby: Yeah, joy in before and joy in the now.
Johanna: You know, I feel like, [scoffs], I have such a hard time associating with my past because a lot of it was not filled with a lot of joy or warmth. Um, and I think for me now discovering that joy in my relationship with Amy was really life-changing. And I like that you said specifically that ‘before’ and ‘after,’ because I was writing this letter to Amy this past week and one of my notes was actually, um, there’s a Before and After love. And not to say before and after as the beginning or the ending, I mean myself as a person with Amy. Of course I remember who I was before and a lot of those things are still intact, but I know that there’s been this life altering moment for me where I found this love and joy, you know what I’m saying? This very pure, [takes a breath] wholesome love, you know what I’m saying? That can coexist with growth and learning how to navigate that love, you know what I’m saying?
Gabby: For sure.
Johanna: That’s been extremely joyful for me and life-changing. So that’s been that, like, that Before and After because it alters your life. So now there’s no going back, you know what I’m saying?
Johanna: It’s like squeezing all the toothpaste out.
Johanna: You can’t put it back in. As much as you try.
Johanna: You know what I’m saying? It’s out!
Amy: And it’s definitely not separate either, because I feel like we’ve- we know our Befores and we’ve grown with that and, like, we’ve worked through our trauma and still continue to work through that. And I think that’s what makes it even more powerful that we, like, acknowledge our Before because some people are like, ‘Oh, like, the past is the past, like, that’s it.’ It’s like, ‘No, let’s talk about it!’
Amy: Like, ‘what did you learn?’ you know?
Amy: So I think that’s what’s important, too.
Gabby: For sure. And, so let’s also roll it back a little bit. Um, like I said, I’m 37 so I would love for y’all to be like how old you guys are and then let’s give a little “How we met” story, you know we might as well.
Amy: Okay, so I’m 24.
Gabby: [Teasing] Mírala, coño.
Amy: Johanna is about to be 30.
Amy: So she’s 29 years.
Johanna: She loves to tell people-
Amy: So we’re like Hennessy’s (Carolina) and Michelle’s (Diaz) age, I don’t know if you know who they are.
Gabby: Cute, cute.
Amy: [Laughs] And we met because I saw her on Instagram and she had a picture of her opening the fridge,-
Amy: -and she had literally just boxers on and I was, like, ‘Oh! Okay!’ [Giggles] And I hit her up-
Johanna: It was hot! It was hot outside!
Gabby: Post those thirst traps! Put the pictures online!
Johanna: Listen! Listen! The story is very similar [laughs]
Amy: And then, um, I was living in Syracuse at the time, though, so I was like, you know, ‘We could be friends, whatever,’ Um-
[Gabby and Johanna chuckle]
Amy: But then, like, we came together, and I did her first host for her first, um, pop-up, but the first time we first ever met up was at Pride.
Johanna: Yeah. I was following her on Instagram because I thought she was fine as hell.
Johanna: But also, I had read an article and-
Amy: Oh yeah.
Johanna: I didn’t put it together that the person that had written the article was her until something correlated it, and I was like, [soft tone of disbelief] ‘What?’ I was like, ‘She’s fine as hell and she’s writing this article!’ I was like, ‘Yo, okay!’
Johanna: So she posted these pictures-
Amy: Write that paper, y’all!
Amy: [Claps once for emphasis] Brains and beauty!
Johanna: Multifaceted. Um, but she has posted these pictures in Cuba, and I was like, [mimics shaky voice, in awe] ‘Who is this person?’ and she- [asks Amy] did you DM me first?
Johanna: Oh yeah, she did, with the picture with the fridge, of course, ‘cause I’m way too shy, so I wouldn’t have said anything, ever. Um, and then we met up at Pride, but she was so late.
Johanna: Me on my Capricorn, I was like, ‘I’m being played, she’s too fine, she’s standing me up.’
Johanna: It wasn’t like a date, it was just like a hangout, you know what I’m saying? I didn’t have expectations.
Gabby: Inside, though, you were like [panicked tone mixed with laughter] ‘I’m being so played!’
Johanna: I mean low-key I’m like, ‘Yeah, she’s cute and mad smart,’ but she shows up [clicks tongue] mad late, and I’m just like, ‘Wow, I feel like I’ve known you, like, my whole ass life.’
Amy: Yeah, I put, like,-
Amy: – my shoulder underneath her shoulder –
Johanna: I have a picture of us from that day where it’s just, like, my hand holding onto, like, her arm with the Frida, so, like, our tattoos just go in one. And I look back at that picture, and I’m like, ‘That. Is. Not. Normal.’ Like,-
Johanna: Like, we acting like we’ve known each other, like, just forever.
Gabby: So it was like an instant-
Amy: And I even posted the photo and the caption was, ‘Me and my girl,’ so,
Amy: I don’t know! [Chuckles]
Johanna: The first day!
Amy: It was instant.
Gabby: Yes! Y’all are really a-, a visible couple. You both have strong personal followings on Instagram, social media. You both also have different, um, projects, Veggie Mijas, the Unapologetic Series and those have their own, uh, profound amount of followers. And so you made this decision, right, to, like, share your relationship. This joy, this spark, this moment, the sacred thing between y’all, y’all made the decision to share it online on, on, on all the platforms. I’m really curious about the, like, decision, um, that y’all must’ve made, or how that came to be where you’re in agreement to be so visible with your love.
Johanna: I think I knew even before we had shared that. For us to come together, relationship-wise it would be really meaningful to people kind of right away, because they had their own personal relationships with us. You know what I’m saying?
Johanna: Their own connections to us, individually with our work. So then, the merging of the two is almost like this, this union to people that’s really, really powerful, and I can see that, right? So I remember saying that to her so specifically. And then we waited a little bit, um, to share on social media.
Johanna: Um, and then when we did, it just, it felt to me, like, we share so much of our lives on the Internet and you pick and choose, obviously, what you share and what you- and what you choose to let the world into. Um, and for, I think for me, and for, like, for us it was important to be honest about that love also.
Johanna: Because we don’t have blueprints, right? We don’t have guides for what it looks like to be in love.
Gabby: When you say we, maybe be a little more specific?
Johanna: I think I mean queer folx, yeah. When I say we, I mean queer folx. Um, so I think for us to, to live in that truth and to be visible is to say, ‘Hey, we don’t really know how to navigate this, but we’re gonna do it with you,’ type-
Gabby: [Softly] Yeah.
Johanna: You know what I’m saying?
Gabby: [Softly] Right!
Johanna: Like, we also don’t really know what we’re doing, but we’re trying to do our best and this is how we’re doing it. And you know, we get to- we pick and choose what we post, you know what I’m saying?
Johanna: And, and it’s been a really important, I think, for us knowing the fact that people are so connected that we always be honest and be genuine. I think it’s important to be, to acknowledge all aspects of what it takes to be in a relationship, and looks like this.
Amy: Yeah, and we’ve also had conversations about boundaries as well and, like, what not to share, what to share. And we, like, try to, like, have consent with that as well, so.
Gabby: What are those boundaries? This is, like, an intentional, right, like, this is a layering,
Gabby: This is consent-
Amy: No, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Gabby: This is, like, communication and, and foresight and, you know, so, if folx are, uh, in kind of this love that is like revolutionary, right, whether it’s because, ah, you’re queer, you’re immigrants, refugees, you know, and your love is powerful in that way-
Gabby: -talking about boundaries is hella important, you know?
Amy: Yeah and, and I think I also not only meant boundaries, like, of what we share, but also, like, how much we let people in. ‘Cause I know that I personally get a lot of, like, messages of people asking me so many questions, and I’m like, I can only answer so much. Um, or wanting to know so many personal life things.
Johanna: Obviously we often talk about how people go on Instagram and you’re not really sharing your losses, right? You’re not really sharing your issues, you’re not really sharing- you know when we get, if we fight, I’m not going on Instagram, like, [mimics fast-talking speech sound, as if venting] ‘prra, prra.’
Gabby: You know, I was going to ask! [Chuckles]
Johanna: Yeah. Right.
Gabby: Yeah. Like, I was, like, you know, y’all share the most lush and abundant stuff. Like, it’s always, like, ‘Look at my princess!’-
Gabby: – ‘She is walking down the street!’
Johanna: [Giggling] No, but actually-
Gabby: ‘And, like, the sidewalk is just, was built for her!’
Gabby: And it’s like [chuckles]
Amy: That’s Johanna!
Johanna: So annoying! I get on my own nerves, that’s fine.
Gabby: [Giggles] And I love it! And I love it! And I love it! And at the same time, I’m also, like, okay, okay, I’m not y’all, but in my 20s, I had chaotic relationships. And I was not in control of my emotions. I had a temper, I was, uh, allowing myself to be abused, right? So, I didn’t know anything about boundaries, I didn’t know anything about being in a relationship, right?
Gabby: And even if I didn’t have all the extra, like, you know, alcohol, drugs, even if I didn’t have all of that, I still didn’t have a framework!
Gabby: You know? So, when y’all do fight- I mean, do y’all fight?
Amy and Johanna: Yeah. Yes.
Amy and Johanna: [Laugh]
Gabby: Okay, I just want everyone to know that the eyes got real serious!
Gabby: Um, when y’all fight, like, why don’t you put it on the Internet?
Amy: Well, I think we don’t put that we fight, but we do put tools that we use when we fight.
Amy: Yeah. I think we use it for good. Um, we also go to therapy separately, so I think that also helps, because my therapist, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, Johanna did this! And I did that!’ I’m like- She’s like, ‘Okay! Breathe! You do this and that.’ And then I go home and I’m like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna sit down and have a conversation!’ Like, so it’s, like, been really helpful. And I think that our fights, like, they used to scale a lot, but now, like, we definitely know our feelings and we know how to communicate, like, it’s been a really great growth within that.
Johanna: It takes time.
Johanna: Because, like, for example, like, I don’t want to go on Instagram and talk about the fight, right?
Johanna: Like, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that, going in, you know-
Johanna: – about the fight. But I am open to acknowledging, like, ‘Hey,’ when we have fought, when we do fight [chuckles], you know, this is what we’re working on. Because, like you mentioned, there’s no framework, right, we have no blueprint, and that’s something that I constantly find myself struggling with in this- in this relationship specifically. Because, like you said, in my 20s, too, you know, I’m turning 30 in December and I’ve had so many toxic relationships, I mean, like, nnnnnn off the wall! Like-
Gabby: Yep. We run each other into the ground!
Johanna: Like, into the ground-
Gabby: We will shred each other to the bone
Johanna: Like, done.
Johanna: Yeah, and I’ve been in those relationships, you know what I’m saying? To the, like I’ve had, like, an ex partner sit on top of my car so I wouldn’t leave!
Johanna: You know what I’m saying?
Gabby: [Softly] Yes!
Johanna: So, going, being in those situations, and then finding our partner, where you’re looking at this person, and I’m looking at this person, and I’m like, we have so many things going [sardonic tone] against us, you know what I’m saying? As individuals, who have different sets of traumas, different sets of, like, things we carry, like, you have to find a way-
Gabby: [Whispers] Yes!
Johanna: -to acknowledge that and be okay with it.
Johanna: So, like, that I don’t mind sharing with the world, you know what I’m saying?
Johanna: Hey! Don’t get it twisted, you know, it looks pretty, but there’s been a lot of fights, and a lot of tears-
Johanna: -and a lot of how do we talk to each other, how do we communicate.
Johanna: Because as much as you think that you know how to be a good communicator, or a good whatever, until you’re in a relationship, those things could mean nothing to that person.
Amy: Mm-hm. Yeah.
Gabby: Yeah, I gotta say, you kind of, like, gave me good chills, Amy, by saying that, like, you’re both in individual therapy.
Gabby: Because, [exhales a quick, amazed laugh] just the, like, [stutters] that is revolutionary, right? That is, is it’s own healing, like, that is breaking stigma, that is, like, saying, Ok, you said 24 gonna be 25?
Gabby: That’s saying at 24 that I’m gonna undo all of this within me.
Amy: Oh yeah.
Gabby: And at 29 and 28, I’m gonna w-work on what’s happening, what’s internal, what’s internally not right, and colonized, I’m going to take that on and work on myself. And [exhales sharp amazed laugh], like, I’m just like, do you, do you ever think about how tremendous that is? And how profound it is to be walking in those steps that you are? Because there is no framework and you are building framework. Not just for y’all’s relationship, but for how to navigate this life.
Amy: Yeah. I think it’s beautiful, and I think it’s beautiful even more when you come from a family that doesn’t believe in therapy, that didn’t- that didn’t know what to do with their problems — they still don’t know what to do with their problems, um! [Laughs]
Gabby: Can we say that? Let’s say that!
Gabby: We’re running around healing ourselves and we’re still navigating tremendously unhealed people.
Amy: Definitely. Definitely. And even learning what a healthy relationship looks like through parents that tell you what they think a healthy relationship looks like, and then you grow up and you’re just like [clicks tongue] ‘That’s not healthy.’ Like-
Gabby: Ha Ha!
Johanna: [Laughing] ‘You’re not healthy!’
Amy: [Giggling] Um…
Gabby: ‘But we’ve been married 60 years!’
Johanna: Yeah, I’m not impressed.
Johanna: I’m not impressed, sweetie.
Amy: Yeah, so I think, I think doing this work and doing that work with someone that does believe in that work, too, is- is really radical.
Gabby: And what it also, like, points out, what it really, like bl- like, shines a beautiful light on is that without saying it, y’all are putting yourselves first.
Gabby: Right, because it’s not, like, you’re like, ‘Oh we go to group- we go to couple’s therapy and that’s it.’
Gabby: Um, you are going to your individual therapists, so that is Johanna saying, ‘I prioritize me,’ Amy saying, ‘I prioritize me.’ Like, talk about, um, the ways that you, other ways that you prioritize yourselves within this, like, deep, cemented love that you have.
Johanna: I think I’m learning how to do that. You know, like, this is the honesty that we’re talking about, right? I’m a caretaker.
Johanna: So it’s easy for me to just jump into something and be like, ‘Okay, what can I do, what, you know, this, this and that,’ into almost lose a part of awareness that you have to also care for yourself as intensely as I take care of other people, you know what I’m saying?
Gabby: For sure.
Johanna: Like, how is it okay for me not to have eaten today, but I’m sitting here making somebody else food, do you know what I’m saying?
Johanna: So I think that being with Amy has also made me become really, really aware of the fact that it’s not okay for me not to take care of myself.
Johanna: You know what I’m saying? Taking care of other people is not a service to others, –
Johanna: It’s a disservice to me. When it comes to, when it comes to past the point of, you know, just taking care of folx, but rather not taking care of myself.
Gabby: Hiding in the care!
Johanna: Exactly, that’s what I’m saying.
Gabby: Right, because if you are in the care of someone else and you’re doing for them, you don’t have to look at all the things that are going on inside of you.
Johanna: Exactly. So that’s why I’m like, being with her has forced me to be really aware of that because, you know, when you love somebody so much and you’re like, ‘Oh, I will, like, literally watch the flowers float underneath your feet!’
Johanna: ‘On the sidewalk,’ that’s not saying, you know-
Gabby: ‘For hours! Forever!’
Johanna: [Laughs] ‘Wow!’ So, I have to like, kind of have this moment of, ‘Alright, but if you’re not well within yourself, if you’re not well internally, then this isn’t going to be well.’ And that’s something I’ve had to learn, and like, kind of the hard way, you know? Like-
Gabby: Good! Yes!
Johanna: You know, and –
Johanna: – it’s really a, been really healing for me, and sacred to be in a space in a relationship with somebody who gives you the space to do that, right?
Amy: Um, I think for me in all my relationships, obviously minus this one, I’ve always been the person that gives way too much and it’s been always so toxic where I don’t think about myself at all. And my dad has always said, like, ‘Primero tú.’ (‘You first’)
Amy: Like, that’s what he always says, like, ‘Primero tú y después el mundo,’ (‘You first and then the world’) and I’m like, ok, like, even not only in relationship framework, but with everything, like, I’ve always been so passionate about human rights and it’s always been about other people and, like, [inhales] it’s just such a Pisces thing to think about others before yourself, um.
Amy: And I think I’ve finally, like, have that down! [Chuckles] Um, and I always think of myself first, and I think it’s really, really ingrained in my mind to do that and I think that’s why this relationship is so powerful because we are doing that together, now. And I even, like, have it tattooed, because I’m like –
Gabby: Eeeyyyy! Yes!
Amy: – ‘First me.’ [chuckles]
Gabby: Listen, I have fallen in love with so many people just because I’m- I just- it’s- if you’re cute and you have dimples and you have a-
Gabby: -and you speak Spanish, like, hello, I am in love with you, right now, like [giggles]. You know, and I just have that, like, way, right, and so I had to also teach myself, like, ‘Yo, you stressed that someone’s not texting you back? You’re going to call someone? You’re going to do- … you need to- … what are you- … have you done your work?’
[Amy and Johanna laugh]
Gabby: ‘Have you eaten?’, like you say, ‘Have you eaten? Are you writing that chapter? Like, what are you not doing for yourself? Like, can you extract yourself out of someone else’s ass long enough to get your own worth.’ [Cackles] Y’all looking at me! So we talk social media, right, we talk social media, um, but there is, like, one way that y’all definitely share love that really, just, I wanted it to be a forever thing. You with the, um, with the ‘Niñas Sin Vergüenza’-
Amy: Oh yeah.
Gabby: I saw on your Instagram you were taking these giant posters of the two of you, like, love pictures. You know when you’re in love with someone you take these gorgeous ass pictures?
Gabby: Got a bunch of those, and you blew them up, where did you post them?
Johanna: In the Lower East Side, yeah.
Gabby: Just threw up all these pictures of you and Johanna and to me, I was like, God bless this child for going out-
Gabby: -and creating a- a gallery space, taking up the city space, the gentrified city, and saying, in here, in this, we will exalt this Queer Latina Love, and y’all can’t do nothing about it.
Gabby: Tell me about that, the- that project, that impetus, that, that fucking magic.
Johanna: Y’all can’t see me, but I have tears in my eyes. [chuckles]
Johanna: Um, so that project actually came to me a long, like super long time before it even went up, um, like, months. And I wanted to, [clears throat] take up space publicly with photos that were of genuine love. Cause I find that when we see queer love sometimes represented, it’s very fetishized, it’s very sexualized, and usually created by, like, straight folx –
Johanna; -not queer folx. And you can tell because it’s just so… [chuckles]
Gabby: Cause there’s no body! Everybody’s so skinny!
Johanna: … It’s bad. It’s just so bad! It’s just, it’s terrible. So, um, we were in a friend’s living room and we were taking these beautiful photos, and it was kind of a hot mess in that situation, because nobody seemed to like the pictures, except like me and her. We were like, ‘You know, I love them!’
Johanna: And I sat on those pictures for literally weeks and I told her, ‘I don’t think I’m going to do the photos, the installation anymore because it makes me nervous. This is our real relationship.’
Johanna: ‘It’s not just models that are posing in this very affectionate, you know, embrace. I’m not sure.’
Johanna: And she goes-
Johanna: Basically, like, ‘Are you going to do it, or not?’ You know, like, very much like, you d-, you know, ‘Don’t…’
Amy: But I was like, ‘I respect that…’
Johanna: Yeah, of course.
Amy: ‘…but also …’ [chuckles]
Johanna: ‘…but also, like, don’t take away your own experience.’
Gabby: [Softly] Yes!
Johanna: You know, ‘Don’t, don’t overthink a situation.’ So, she said that, and literally within three days, I had taken those photos and printed them out and, I think they’re like, they’re like 53 inches.
Gabby: [Chuckling] Yes! Damn!
Johanna: I don’t know how many feet that is because I’m really bad at math.
Gabby: And how many? How many?
Johanna and Amy: Three.
Johanna: Three. Um…
Gabby: Fifty-three inch-
Gabby and Johanna: -posters
Johanna: And then-
Gabby: Of your gorgeous ass faces.
Johanna: Yeah. With a museum tag! The way that you would see in any other, you know, institution or gallery, with the information of the piece. So, we took that and I told her, I was like, ‘Do you want to come with me on the street?’ She’s come with me to paste up posters. In fact, like, we went out in the, like, a thing, um, where we, the first time that we went out and put up posters, we were friends, do you know what I’m saying, so I knew that she’d be down to come with me.
Johanna: Um, and, the pictures were really beautiful. Three photos, one of them was of me kissing her forehead, um, one of me kis- just us kissing, and then I think the third one-
Gabby: It was like-
Johanna: -it was another, like, embrace.
Gabby: -in your room
Johanna: Yeah, in the living room, like, super soft, like, I think, Christmas lights were in the background.
Johanna: It looked like a living room. Like, somebody
Amy: It was, like, 90s, like Tommy-
Johanna: Yeah, we were both wearing Tommy Hilfiger. Just super, like,-
Johanna: – chill, you know, like, our actual outfits that day.
Johanna: You know what I’m saying? Um …
Gabby: You just did, like, a Love Jones photoshoot, essentially, like [giggles]
Amy and Johanna: Yeah.
Johanna: But you know what? The photos weren’t taken to go on the street. They were just taken because we were there.
Amy: For us.
Johanna: For us.
Johanna: And then I looked at the photos, and I was like, ‘Holy shit! These are, like, beautiful.’ Like, you can see the warmth, the love in the photos.
Johanna: And, of course, as a street artist, –
Johanna: I thought, ‘These should be on the street.’
Amy: And I, and then we thought of the name, and I thought, because, like, my mom was always like, ‘Hay, esas niñas sin vergüenza,’ like-
Amy: Like, ‘Kissing on the street!’ Like, you know? So then I was like, ‘Oh my god, it should be Niñas Sin Vergüenzas’
Gabby: It’s so wild that, um, people say ‘sin vergüenza’ like it’s a bad thing.
Gabby: And I’m like, but wait, you mean-
[All talking simultaneously]
Johanna: As if we should –
Amy: It’s a positive! That’s fucking radical, revolutionary! The fuck!
Johanna: Right. Sin vergüenza, like, as if shame is the bearer of, like, morality.
Johanna: And being cuiciosas, you know what I’m saying? So, Niñas Sin Vergüenza, when we came up with that name, I was like, my mom had said that to me my whole life. [Scoffs, mimicking her mother] ‘Hay, niña sin vergüenza,’ so taking that out to the street with her, specifically, like, we had to, like, we were on top of trash cans.
Johanna: You know what I’m saying?
Johanna: Like, rolling- I had never installed something that large before. So,-
Amy: It was powerful.
Johanna: It was really powerful.
Gabby: We already know, I mean, I feel like, if you didn’t know, Black Panther taught everyone that the museums have just stolen culture, right?
Gabby: So it’s like, even when we get inside the museum our work is, like, still displayed around things that have been thieved.
Johanna: Mmmm, absolutely.
Gabby: You know? And, so you, you just get to reclaim that and put your art up.
Johanna: Yeah, because the street doesn’t require you to be something that you’re not. You find yourself taking a public space, you’re walking down the street, you know, you don’t have to walk through doors that you may feel uncomfortable.
Johanna: You know what I’m saying? And when you’re outside you’re subjected to whatever you’re seeing, whether you like it or not, right? So I think, for me, when I see public content and public art in general, to see those photos, as I was backing up, you know, taking photos, and I saw people walking by, you have no idea who’s going to walk by those photos and have a moment of realization of, like, ‘Wow, this love that I’ve, you know, thought of for myself that I visualized, here it is and I see it.’
Johanna: ‘Cause, yeah, it’s 2019, 2018 or whatever at the time, but there are still people in this world that, we don’t- that we don’t have that blueprint to see, we’re not growing an abundance of queer content.
Gabby: Yeah, people think, people think we are and it’s like, –
Amy and Johanna: Mm-hm.
Gabby: Just because we have the Internet doesn’t mean that-
Johanna: Right! Don’t let it fool you.
Gabby: And it’s not, listen, ok, and when we talk about these photos, they were lush, they were romantic, and it’s like, if you google ‘Queer Latinas’ a lot of times you just get, like, pornographic images.
Amy: Oh yeah!
Gabby: You know what I’m saying?
Johanna: Just ‘Latina’ in [cracks up] general!
Gabby: Just ‘Latina’ in general!
Amy and Johanna: Yeah.
Gabby: You get, like, you know, it’s all for, I’m sorry, stupid ass men, right? [chuckles]
Gabby: And you know, yeah, some of us have bodies,-
Amy: Don’t apologize.
Gabby: – some of us, this is not about, like, shaming any particular look, but it’s like, you don’t get the nuance, you don’t get romance, you know what I mean? Like, we are worthy of romance, we are worthy of gentle beauty, you know what I mean? We are worthy of being in control of our images and presenting ourselves in a way that feels, like, lush and never ending, you know what I mean?
Gabby: And that’s what y’all do. And one thing I also, like, I feel a tremendous amount of, like, care and protection for y’all. Like, I wish, I wanna have, like, a love net that I can throw around both of you forever, you know, because you share of yourselves and y’all don’t ask for nothing.
Gabby: There’s a whole community of folx that, like, I- I don’t even have the right language, but it’s, like, we are here and you better put us to work! I wanna know, like, to stay vibrant and triumphant, like, what do y’all want from us? Your community, your elder, queer people of color? Like, yeah, what can we offer you? How can we support this love of yours?
Amy: Mm. Wow that’s such a good question.
Johanna: That’s such a good question. Oh my gosh. Um, I think for me, honestly, I’ve been looking for a lot of guidance.
Johanna: To find myself in community with specifically elder, queer folx. Because sometimes I look at my life and I’m like, I’m 30, and of course, like, I want kids and shit, you know, like I want-
Amy: [softly chuckles]
Johanna: – that life. And then I’m like, wh-where does that come from?
Johanna: And where are the queer folx with families? You know, like, where are the queer elders that have, like, you know, like, The Fosters.
Johanna: Like, that’s-
Gabby: That show on the (ABC) Family.
Johanna: -like, the only show that I can think of that I’m, like, okay, like, life could look like that.
Gabby: Yeah, and if you’re, if you’ve never seen The Fosters, it’s, like, two moms, um, and they have, like, uh, there’s a biological son, but then they also have, like, a ton of foster kids-
Amy and Johanna: Foster kids.
Gabby: And they’re very loving and they communicate and, like-
Johanna: A whole family.
Johanna: It’s on Freeform.
Johanna: Check it out. We have no affiliation, but [chuckling] it’s a really good show.
Johanna: Yeah, I think for me, it would be how do I- I mean, not almost, like, how do I get there, because obviously people have different directions, but I just want to see it! You know what I’m saying? I-
Gabby: Of course.
Johanna: I want to feel surrounded by this visibility of qu- older queer folx who are living their lives.
Amy: And I also want those spaces to be created, where, like, younger generations of queer folx can get together with elder queer folx, because I feel like that doesn’t really exist.
Gabby: I feel that in a lot of ways. I’m like, something happens with the, like, energy in gay marriage, um, perso- this is a personal thought, I feel like sometimes the energy that we put into getting, uh, gay marriage also caused a huge shift, right? Because back in the day, like, we would be living with each other and we didn’t have the route to get married. Older queers opened up their homes to younger queers,-
Gabby: -and there was a constant intergenerational connection. But when you’re able to get married, then sometimes you don’t necessarily remember to open that door back up. You’re like, ‘Oh, here is my singular, nuclear family, and now, like, let’s try to get our own baby.’ And that stuff is good and that is- I’m happy that we have those rights, right? But it’s like, I think it kind of closed that door-
Gabby: -between some of us. Um, and I know a lot of queer folx who are married, and I’m like, okay, where is the opening for LGBTQ youth?
Gabby: Where is the mentorship? Are you talking to other young people about how to, uh, get a house together?
Amy: So true.
Gabby: How to save money? Like, you know, and it’s like, where- where is that energy?
Gabby: Um, and I wanna, like, demand it for y’all. I’m like, there’s so many folx following y’all that there should be an abundant amount of folx being like, ‘Hey, you wanna talk about, like, longevity? You wanna talk about babies? You wanna talk about, like, how to clean the gutters, how, like [giggles]–
Gabby: -change a diaper? You know what I’m saying? Like, I feel like, a lot of times, I’m the oldest queer in the room.
Amy and Johanna: Mm.
Gabby: [Laughs] I’m 37, y’all, and I’m, like, Grandpa G out here!
Johanna: Listen, I feel that so hard, like-
Johanna: Very much so.
Gabby: What- what offering can you talk to me that even younger queer babies, right, how can they prioritize Joy in love?
Johanna: Mm…Oh god!
Gabby: You heard that y’all? That was a ‘Mm! Mm!’
Johanna: Um, take your time, babies. Seriously, everything does come with time. That’s facts. Even a relationship like this.
Johanna: And it’s still taking time, you know what I’m saying. Like, don’t romanticize, you know, things so quickly because of the way that they look, you know. I feel like everything is gonna take time and work and effort, and you’re going to find it along the way. Um, so take time.
Amy: Mine is like, there is always family out there, and there’s always love out there, and you can find your family within other spaces that aren’t blood. Um and also, like, for my bisexual babies, you’re not confused! [chuckles] You’re okay! You’re loved. Um, because I know I went through that and I was like, I doubted myself, I was so confused, and I didn’t have the language for it. And sometimes just feel what you feel and, like, it’s fluid and you’re good, and I love you and you have family.
Amy: That’s me.
Johanna: And also platonic love is just as important.
Gabby: Listen, yes! Yes!
Gabby: Uh, we romanticize, like, uh, romantic love all the time. Like, that is the thing to shoot for, ‘Oh my god, if you don’t have loves, something’s wrong with you. You’re going to die alone!’
Gabby: You know what I mean, like [laughs]
Johanna: I mean, listen, like, platonic love is what led to raise our romantic relationship. We were friends first.
Amy: Date your friends?
Johanna: Date your friends!
Gabby: Date. Your. Friends.
Johanna: Get messy!
Gabby: Get naked with your friends, kiss their booties.
Gabby: Yo, but listen! I feel, like, I fall in love with my friends more than- like, I even fall in love with all the babes that I follow. Like, I am absolutely in love with Kat Lazo, like-
Kat Lazo: [Laughs uproariously]
Johanna: Listen, I’m very invested in this, I’ve been watching these stories, it’s very wholesome.
Gabby: I’m, like, incredibly in love with Kat Lazo, like, there’s, like, the sun and the moon, right, it’s Kat Lazo. Dedicated, intelligent, brilliant, loving, like [cackles] but it’s, like [speaking while laughing] and she’s saying ‘No’ [laughs]
Johanna: She’s saying, ‘Move on. Next subject.’
Gabby: [Laughs] I’m not moving on! I’m gonna talk about why I’m not moving on from this, because platonic love is important, right? And people assume about me that I’m, like, butch presenting and that I’m masculine and I’m a dyke, so if I’m in love with someone, then I want to have sex with them. And if I stand near a woman,-
Johanna: Mm, yeah, absolutely.
Gabby: -she’s my partner, I have no scruples. And it’s like, no, I’m wholeheartedly in love with Kat Lazo, my friend Marcy, my friend Trent. I would do anything for them and they love me like, you know, like, the moon is full and that abundant love that you would do anything for each other that I can’t take my heart and my energy and be like, ‘Kat, I wanna do this podcast about Joy. I feel isolated, I feel alone, I feel like I am running out of internal joy and happiness and I’m supposed to be this happy ass person all the time.’
Gabby: And you know, and that is very important, you know? That is so important to acknowledge and, like, not put people in these boxes. You don’t want to sleep with people, and you don’t want to do anything outside of friendship.
Gabby: But there’s that tremendous love and bond. And a lot of times, especially for us, queer and trans people of color, like you said, Johanna, we are our family, we are our lovers, we are our best friends, we’re all, like, we can be all of those things sometimes at once!
Gabby: Because it’s like, our community can be so limited, you know?
Kat: I love you, too!
Johanna: Special appearance.
Gabby: You feel better? You feel better? Did I bring it home? [Laughs]
[Transitional synth beat]
Gabby: We are moving into Lightning Joy!
[Crashing lightning sound]
Gabby: [Dramatic, deep superhero voice with echo] Lightning Jooooy! Hahahaha!
Gabby: Thirty seconds to answer as many questions about Joy as possible, one-word answers just shoot ‘em out at me. Because you’re a couple, normally I’m only willing to do 30 seconds, we’re going to give you 45 seconds.
Gabby: Amy and Johanna are you ready for Lightning Joy?
Johanna: Here we go.
Amy: Here we go. Are we ready? Are we re- [trails off giggling].
Johanna: Estamos ready.
Gabby: Kat Lazo, how we doing on that timer?
Kat: Forty seconds on the clock!
Gabby: Aaand, go!
[Suspenseful quiz show beat plays in the background]
Gabby: What fruits does Joy put in her smoothie?
Amy: She doesn’t eat smoothies, but when she does, strawberries?
Gabby: Yes! What is Joy’s favorite rapper?
Johanna: Bad Bunny?
Gabby: Yeeeeeah! What is Joy’s favorite item of makeup?
Gabby: What is Joy’s moon?
Johanna: Oh! Libra.
Gabby: Rising sign?
Johanna: Piscis, Pisces! [Laughs]
Gabby: What does Joy cook for the morning after breakfast?
Amy: Um, sweet potatoes and eggs.
Gabby: What is Joy’s favorite reality TV show?
Johanna: Oh god, gotta keep up with the Kardashians [laughs]
Johanna: Keeping Up With the Kardashians, I have to, we know now.
Gabby: What is Joy’s favorite animal?
Gabby: Favorite season?
Amy and Johanna: Fall.
Gabby: Oh, wow. I’m gonna end it there, y’all.
Gabby: That was amazing! What a beautiful lightning round.
[Joy Revolution theme song softly plays in the background]
Gabby: And if you are in abundant, platonic, magnificent love with Amy and Johanna right now, you can follow Amy on Instagram @imsecretlyacat and you can find out more about Veggie Mijas on Instagram as well @veggiemijas and also www.veggiemijas.com. For Johanna, their Instagram is @johannareign and for the Unapologetically Street Series, you can follow them @theunapologeticallybrownseries, long story, you know how it goes. And also www.unapologeticstreetseries.com. And y’all, that’s it for this week’s episode! As always, a big thank you to the Joy Revolution family! We’ve got audio god Marcela Carbajal, Julissa Contreras, studio manager, music genius, Angelica M. Rodriguez, and producer extraordinaire, Kat Lazo. I’m your host, Gabby Rivera. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @QuirkyRican. And if you haven’t already, remember to jump on the Joy ride and subscribe! Thank you for listening to Joy Revolution, the podcast that asks, ‘How do you prioritize Joy?’ Because we’re meant to thrive, not just survive.