On Thursday March 25th, The Hun School welcomed Centennial Speaker Gabby Rivera, author of Juliet takes a Breath and the Marvel Comic Series America—featuring the first queer, Latinx teen-girl superhero, ever. Ms. Rivera’s work fosters better dialogue, inspires radical creativity, and speaks to the most vulnerable communities in the country. Her work is catching headlines from The New York Times, Vogue, and beyond.
Here are five lessons Hun students learned from Ms. Rivera during the keynote and in a small group breakout session following.
1. You speak it, it will happen.
When a fellow writer asked Ms. Rivera to share exactly how she got Juliet Takes a Breath published, Ms. Rivera’s answer was simple: “You speak it, it will happen.” She explained the importance of sharing your work, putting yourself out there, and speaking your dreams into existence: “Tell everyone you know that you are a writer, show them what you are working on, hustle, tell people that your dream is to get published. You never know who you may come in contact with and the more you continue to share, the closer you will get.”
2. Joy isn’t just in stories and fairytales, it’s for everyday living.
Throughout Ms. Rivera’s presentation, she mentioned that she constantly prioritizes joy. “When you are struggling, there is always room for joy,” she said. “You are allowed to daydream, rest, find yourself, and find peace. It is so important to do that. It’s not only how you survive but how you thrive and bloom as an individual.”
3. Social media can be a positive tool in helping you find a professional network and personal support.
Ms. Rivera shares that she is constantly looking for ways to connect with trans, queer, people of color wherever she goes, and most of the time, social media plays a big role in helping her find those new friends. “Connecting and utilizing whatever social media you have will help you find your people,” she said. “Don’t just follow them, engage with them, share your work, thoughts, and feelings with them.” One helpful tip Ms. Rivera offered is to put yourself in fandom situations: “if you are a fan of a band, then follow the members of the band, and that will lead you to others who are also fans.”
4. It is not your job to help other people accept you.
When asked how to navigate coming out to family members who may not be accepting, Ms. Rivera explains that the most important step is to love yourself first. “When I first came out to my mom, she took it really hard, and something inside of me told me that it was not my job to make her accept me,” she said. “She needed to do the work herself, I couldn’t do it for her. I knew I needed to do what was best for me and love myself first, be clear with my boundaries, and share all of the good things with people who were going to uplift me.”
5. Stereotypes aren’t yours to hold.
At some point in a person’s life they will encounter stereotypes to some degree, and in Ms. Rivera’s life thus far, she has experienced stereotypes associated with her gender identity and ethnicity. She shares a few of her mechanisms on how to cope with these experiences: “When I was younger it took me a minute to recognize why I was being treated differently,” she said. “But once I realized what was happening I realized that I do not have to interact with these stereotypes. They are not mine to hold and I do not have to engage with them and neither do you.”