Racial and Economy Policy Analyst, National Gay and Lesbian
Task Force Policy Institute
Rivera-Dessuit says, "Asking me why I am a lesbian is like
asking me why I have brown eyes. Because that's my reality.
Because that's who I am." Ms. Rivera-Dessuit was featured in
the March issues of EBONY where she talked about coming out
of the closet, embracing her sexuality and educating others
At 17, while pregnant, a high school
drop-out, and in an abusive heterosexual relationship,
Rivera-Dessuit courageously came to terms with her strong
attraction to women, and began on a path toward turning her
life around. As she writes, "A slow process of education and
self- empowerment driven by my need to care for the child I
was about to bring into the world helped me leave the lies
and abuse." A teenager and unwed mom, she moved to
Massachusetts from New York to start a new life.
Little did she know her new life would involve making
national headlines while fighting the religious right to
organize the first lesbian, gay and trans pride march in
Lawrence. She is as dedicated to the gay community as
she is to her 10-year-old daughter, Amanda.
On Feminism: "I have to be honest, I haven't
thought about the question of using the term that much. I do
feminist work--for a movement for social and political
change and for equality for women and all people. But I say
I'm an activist for women's rights. I don't think I ever
seriously considered taking up the term. One reason is that
when I think of feminists, the first image that comes to
mind is white women. Another is the image of a man-hating
dyke. I am not man-hating, but I am a dyke.
Before coming out, when I was still questioning, it was too
scary to use that word. But now that I'm out and I know who
I am, I don't relate to the word because the movement
doesn't encompass and hasn't really shown interest in all
women. I have been referred to by others as a
feminist--because of the work I do--and that doesn't bother
me. But I don't own the term." Source: Ms.
Magazine -- March 2001.
A Lesbian Voice In Ebony Magazine:
The March issue of Ebony Magazine, featured "Why I Am A
Lesbian," written by Ingrid Rivera-Dessuit. The article’s
headline is given cover placement with the other feature
stories. Her first-person article was an intimate look at
Rivera-Dessuit’s life from early childhood through the
present. The narrative centered on her trying to deny her
true feelings at first, coming out of the closet, facing her
family’s reactions and dealing with her daughter being
subjected to a homophobic world.
Her story educated readers about what it means to be a
lesbian, additionally, Rivera-Dessuit also wrote about the
connection between oppressed communities. "I will continue
to work in any capacity to ensure that my family, young and
old LGBT people and society in general are free from all
types of oppression," she writes. "I strive to show my
family the importance of linking all struggles and
discriminatory acts. With time comes change and, at times,
understanding. Society has a long way to go in the struggle
for LGBT human rights and it has made some accomplishments.
Until we can realize the connections and how oppressions
work to conquer and divide society, we will never be a
united liberated front."
Ingrid, through her article,
serves as a role model by showing how enriching the world can be
by embracing diversity and showing that multiple social
identities do not have to be mutually exclusive of each other.