Hi, If you’re here that means you’re interested in learning about the dynamic duo @Lizard_Found_Joy. I loved getting to know more about the couple and hopefully, you will too.
1. Please introduce yourself and, include your pronouns and how you identify.
Liz (she/her), Joy (she/her) - we both identify as gay womxn. Joy is African American (Black American Descendant of Slavery) and Liz is Australian (Bi-racial Hong Kong Chinese and white)
2. Briefly describe your coming out experiences and what challenges did you face (if any) when you came out.
Joy came out to her mum at 16. She was so scared to come out in person that she wrote a letter instead. Joy's mum read the letter and told Joy "I love you no matter what. As long as you're good to people and you're happy." But Joy says that there was a part of her Mom that thought that "going to church and praying would make it go away." It took a few years for that to go away. On the flip side, Joy went back in the closet when she went to college at the US Military Academy which still operated under "don't ask don't tell". Eventually, she came out to close friends while attending West Point but she had to keep her relationship a secret from the broader military community. This made her feel like she was lying all the time and wasn't ok. Professionally, Joy only fully came out in the military in 2010 when "don't ask don't tell" was repealed.
As for me (Liz), Joy is the first womxn I've ever dated or been in a relationship with. We met in grad school at the end of 2016 and were friends before we started dating - or "going out". I was actually married to a cis male at the time that Joy and my relationship started. It took a lot of courage and soul searching on my part to make the decision to change my life entirely in order to pursue my relationship with Joy. Something told me that I couldn't let her go, so I didn't. I changed my life because I wanted to be with her. I was extremely nervous to tell my mum and family members about the changes that I was experiencing in my life - my sexuality, my divorce, and my new relationship. It was somewhat easier because I could tell them on the phone instead of in person.
My mum has lived in Australia longer than she lived in Hong Kong so she is quite "westernized" but still holds many traditional Chinese values. The Chinese community has a strong dislike of gay people (and is very anti-Black). Oftentimes, when Chinese kids come out to their parents they are disowned from the family. But, I have distinct memories of growing up where my mum told me: "I don't care if you're gay, I'll still love you, as long as you are honest and good to people." It was very similar to what Joy's mum had said to her. Having these memories in the back of my mind made me have faith that my mum would be ok with my new relationship. In the end, she could be ok with it or she could not be involved in my life. That is the hard and honest truth.
Overall, my family has been extremely accepting and I feel very fortunate to have had that experience. I'm really looking forward to traveling back home with Joy in October to introduce her to my broader family - especially my sister, cousin and my dad, who have not had the pleasure of meeting her yet. It will be her first time in Australia and seeing where I grew up.
What made y’all start an Instagram couples page?
3. We started an Instagram couples page simply because we want our voices to be heard on our own terms. Joy says she likes to talk a lot, is very opinionated and loud. We both believe that it is a pivotal time where we have to speak out about what we believe in. It's our opportunity to shape the future. We want to look back on this time in our lives and know that we did everything that we possibly could to create political and social change. Being and staying silent is being complicit in injustice. Joy's social media platform of choice is Twitter and she is always on there (@joy_g_turner) whereas I (Liz) prefer Instagram because I can write a longer caption and share our photos too. In addition to wanting our voices to be heard, we want our page to be a constant reminder that couples that look like us exist - we're an interracial Black and Chinese girl couple. I mean, how often do you see couples that look like us? We can't name a single one in the public sphere and we want to change that.
4. Your IG has become based on POC-LGBTQ+ discrimination throughout the platform. What made y'all realize that y’all had a voice on IG and decided to speak up about the issues us content creators face while addressing the state of this country such as the 2020 campaign, racism, and immigrants just to name a few.
There is a lot of censorship of queer, Black and pro-Black, indigenous, fat, disabled and chronically ill folx' voices on social media. It's partly because folx who identify across these identities possess less social, political and financial capital, so essentially we are expendable. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter - they don't need us. We don't make them any money. I honestly hate that we all have to exist within these corrupt and unjust platforms that uplift white, cisgendered voices above ours. We are pouring all of our hard work, time and effort into platforms that don't value us, let alone uplift our identities as folx from marginalized communities. We know of many folx who have had their pages simply de-activated with no notice, their posts deleted, and their posts blocked from appearing under hashtags to limit their reach, all of them are LGBTQ+ identifying and/or POC, fat, disabled and/or chronically ill. At the same time, we still continue to use these platforms because we don't want to miss out on the business and other opportunities that are available.
We use our platform to primarily advocate for Joy's community - Black American descendants of slavery (ADOS). Simply, the circumstances are urgent. If we don't fix inequities now, there are huge consequences for ADOS people. For example, by 2053, Black ADOS people will have $0 wealth. Apart from our issues with Instagram as a whole, we see a LOT of complacency from white, cisgendered queer people on and non-Black people of color on issues that affect the day to day lives of Black ADOS people in America. White queers often think that they get a free pass from a call out because they are queer. Right now, we see white members of the LGBTQ+ community advocating for veganism more than they are advocating for reparations and an end to police brutality, and the murders of Black womxn, transwomxn and femmes. Of course, the Amazon rainforest and Indigenous sovereignty are important. It seems easier for white people and non-Black people of color in America to care more about issues happening abroad than ones that would level the playing field for Black ADOS people in America.
Honestly, our Instagram reflects who we are as a couple and as people. The topics we talk about on our Instagram are based on the conversations that we have on the daily as an interracial, inter-cultural same-sex girl couple. But it's also reflective of the current environment that we are in right now. Joy says: "The data shows that the 2016 election was deeply influenced by the conversations happening on social media. Liz is from a whole different part of the world. Social media is how we stay connected and also share what is meaningful to us. Being active on Twitter and Instagram isn't a choice for me. We live in a place (WA) which is statewide 2-4% Black. So if we want to connect with other Black people it has to be through social media". Connecting with so many other interracial and Black same-sex girl couples has been the main, and somewhat unexpected, highlight of creating our Instagram page. We now have gay friends all over the country and the world who watch our stories every day and are active members and contributors to our community. We are so thankful and can't wait to see where this journey takes us.
5. How can more influencers start educating themselves and others on their platforms to spread the word on current events?
Influencers, especially if they are white, cisgendered, able-bodied queer people need to do a few things immediately:
Follow indigenous, Black, brown, disabled, fat, trans and non-binary and chronically ill folx and pay them for their free education and labor.
Boost us and our platform when we are talking about current events and issues that are important to American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) (reparations/a Black agenda, the 2020 election, police brutality, mass incarceration, school to prison pipeline, immigration etc.)
Boost indigenous people when they are speaking out about issues specific to their community. Same goes for trans folx. So on and so forth. Allyship is about being there all the time and putting your actual physical body on the line, not just reposting when it's trendy for likes, clicks and shares.
Start caring about shit even if it doesn't immediately affect you. America was racist, anti-Black and violent well before Trump became president. Black people and other POC have known this the whole time.
Learn about cultural appropriation and stop doing it (eg. dressing up as Native peoples at Halloween or any other time of year, putting your baby in an African-style head wrap, wearing a Chinese qipao (red silk) dress to name a few)
Thank you SO much Liz & Joy for sharing your story and your journey with us here. If you want to see any more of this amazing couple, please feel free to follow them on Instagram at @Lizard_Found_Joy.
If you’re interested in becoming apart of these interviews, please feel free to send an email to TheKyannaSimonee@gmail.com and I’ll be in touch.