Conversations With the LGBTQ Community (James Loduca)
Why do you want to tell your story?
James: Evangelize what you can do to drive #EqualityforAll
Shonnah: Thank you for sharing your story with us!
What’s your story?
James: Mix raced latino kid from the central valley of California. Mom is Mexican, Dad is Italian. As their youngest child, I grew up with lots of love in my life, under the watchful eye of the Catholic church, which we attended religiously. (<– HA!)
Shonnah: Mexican and Italian now that’s spicy and as my teenagers would say you got that “sauce” lol. I bet it was a watchful eye in more ways than one (My biased opinion)
Your first injustice:
James: I was always uncomfortable watching how my dad’s siblings reacted to him marrying a woman of color who worked full time while raising three kids.
Shonnah: I could imagine it must have been interesting family gatherings. Your mother was obviously a strong woman and she didn’t allow the negativity to kill her spirit as I see it in you. Please tell her we thank her for raising such an inspiring and loving individual.
James: Race and class distinctions were obvious to me at a young age – dad was a farmer and mom was a Spanish-teacher. As much as we strived to fit into a middle-class narrative, our family seemed always on the outside.
Shonnah: I cannot relate to growing up middle class as we were poor. However, I can relate to that feeling of being on the outside or an outsider. You’re so close to fitting the societal narrative (you think) but yet that reality further than you think. I am grateful you or I didn’t fit into that mold as I truly believe it shapes us into who we are today!
Your “Coming Out”
James: I’ve always been gay. But it wasn’t until I was able to work through the massive shame programmed into me by the Catholic church and get some distance from my family in college that I felt free to explore my sexuality and come to terms with what it meant.
Shonnah: My heart hurts when I think about the effects that programming has on all of us. I am not gay, but my sister was bi. I watched her struggle with her identity for years. I can empathize with that toxic programming as a person of color and a woman. We are told (and show in aggressive ways) there are things we cannot do, places we cannot be and told we are the problem. I want you to know that I love you, I accept you, you are beautiful just the way you are!
How did “Coming Out” Change your Reality?
James: I come out every day. Especially in our current environment, that my family even exists feels like an act of resistance. Once upon a time, I used to pray for God to make me straight. Today, I wouldn’t change who I am for the world. What makes me different are my superpowers, and I intend to use them for good– to help others and blaze a trail to #EqualityforAll.
Shonnah: YEEEAAAASSSS, you better work! Your family exists because of love, that is the purest and highest form of resistance. We appreciate who you are and we need your superpowers, this work is hard, emotionally draining and endless. However, with people like you in this fight, we are hopeful.
What does privilege mean to you?
James: Everyone has their own personal struggles. And all of our own personal equality journeys have unfolded in the context of a culture and system that favors a specific worldview- mostly that of white, heterosexual, cisgender able-bodied people. It’s incredibly difficult to have a conversation about privilege because it requires a measure of grace, vulnerability, and empathy that can be scarce these days.
Shonnah: Agreed, EVERYONE has a form of privilege. Discussing said privilege with people who lack the humility to accept that as a fact is mentally and emotionally taxing. When I do that work I feel I am absorbing their negative energy, refactoring that energy to positive humility and empathy. This leaves me drained and I am sure you can relate.
Do you think you have any privilege? if so, How do you think you have benefited from your inherited privilege?
James: Absolutely! Experiencing privilege is not a binary equation <— THIS IS KEY. I am privileged by the very fact of being male, able-bodied and cisgendered. But I’m also a victim of the very system that conveys privilege. For example, I don’t know many parents that travel with legal parental establishment forms just in case their family is stopped by authorities for fear they may be separated from their child.
Shonnah: Being in fear that your child could be taken away from you because of how you identify shouldn’t be the first thing any parent worries about. If anyone touches that beautiful princess the whole community would lose it!
What do you do to be an ally?
James: I speak less, ask questions and listen more. I remain open. I show up for the badass (can I say that?) women and people of color and trans and disabled people in my life so they know I have their back.
Shonnah: You say whatever you like, ” it’s your party”! I like that speak less, listen more and show up! We appreciate you having our backs and we have yours!
What have others done to be your ally or accomplice?
James: Marriage equality wouldn’t exist were it not for a majority of Americans evolving their positions on same-sex marriage. The day of the supreme court ruling was one of the happiest of our lives.
Shonnah: Yes, I have to say for many of friends and allies that was a beautiful day!
How could you move from being an ally to an accomplice?
James: While I go about my everyday life as an accomplice, I always remain open to opportunities to push the cause of #EqualityforAll further
Shonnah: Always looking for other ways to make this world more equal. You are a true #ChangeAgent
What challenges do you face in parenting and being in a “Non-Traditional” partnership?
James: First and foremost, parenting is HARD– full stop. There are aspects of it that are made harder by virtue of being a nontraditional family– the inappropriate questions, the concern when traveling, natural desire to want to shield our daughter from the terrible things people say about us online. But it is balanced out by all the love we get. We have been deeply touched by the outpouring of love and support from our extended personal and professional networks, and from strangers who have gone out of their way to privately share their journeys and express their allyship and support.
Shonnah: Yes, Yes, Yes! Parenting is the hardest job you will ever have. However, it is also the most rewarding when you infuse your children with love, laughter, and light. Some say it takes a village to raise a child but it takes the world. Our children are influenced by the things that surround them and with technology they can reach the furthest distances of the earth. That is why it is everyone’s responsibility to show love, empathy, and kindness. So our children can model that behavior and it looks like you are already surrounding her with positivity!
Who or what has inspired you?
James: I am inspired every day. By my husband. By our daughter. By humanity. By my company (especially by my boss- OMG Tony Prophet rocks). By the resilience of the human condition.
Shonnah: Man, I was just talking to a friend about this resilience, I am experiencing a hardship and she reminded that I have a 100% success rate we all have a 100% success rate when it comes to surviving because we are still here. I am also inspired by so many who fight the good fight or who just show up when everything is stacked against them. You know that I am a big Tony supporter!
Do you think your efforts have an impact?
James: Every day I do my best to make a difference in big and small ways. Some days, it’s just showing up. Others, it’s creating a program that empowers a group to scale impact in driving equality. But every day I wake up with tremendous hope for the brighter future we are creating together.
Shonnah: Your statement reminds me of faith. However, you are having an impact and even though they are not always immediately evident you will be able to look back with peace and say “I did well”.
James: This survey was DEEP! You didn’t come to play! LOL
Shonnah: I never do! LOL … Thank you again, it was a pleasure 😉