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Women's Week   

Puppies, books and the revolution: a Q&A with Gabby Rivera

Gabby Rivera is a Bronx-born, queer Latinx writer, and our 2019 Women’s Week keynote! We asked a few questions to better understand Rivera’s philosophies and how she exercises them in her own life.

Estela Hernandez  •  March 1, 2019

Gabby Rivera (she/her) is a Bronx-born, queer Latinx writer.

Rivera’s critically acclaimed debut novel Juliet Takes a Breath was listed by Mic as one of the 25 essential books to read for women’s history month, and was called the “dopest LGBTQA YA book ever” by Latina Magazine. Rivera is also the writer for AMERICA – Marvel comics’ first Latina lesbian character, America Chavez.

Outside of writing, Rivera is also the Youth Programs Manager at GLSEN, a leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools regardless of students’ sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. She is also a film and multimedia teaching artist who is dedicated to empowering women and improving conditions in marginalized communities. 

Rivera considers it vital to encourage people of all backgrounds to create, daydream, and tell their own stories—and in so doing, open a radical space for creativity. Her work speaks on her experiences as QTPOC writer, an LGBTQ youth advocate, and the importance of centering joy in the narratives as queer people, Latinx women and people of color.

In this Q&A with Rivera, we ask a few personal questions to better understand Rivera’s philosophies and how she exercises them in her own life.

You list “nerdburger” as one of your identities. What is a nerdburger and how does that manifest in your writing?

Hahahaha! No one’s ever asked me what nerdburger means to me before.

For me, it’s a goofy little description that acknowledges that I like nerdy sh*t: writing, books, school, podcasts, libraries – all that stuff. Nerdburger also highlights that I’m round and loveable ‘cause who doesn’t love a good burger, you know?

In my writing, it manifests in characters like Juliet: good-hearted, chubby, nerdy babes who want to make the world a better place. For me, that’s the ultimate nerdburger.

A lot of your work is very specific in centering joy. What brings the most joy to Gabby Rivera?

My momma brings me joy. And my godson.

New York bagels with fresh cream cheese. Pizza from the Bronx.

Being in conversation with other queer people of color about their joys brings me joy.

Revolution is joy.

Writing wild stories about queer and trans people of color living freely brings me joy.

Dismantling white supremacy gives me joy. And puppies- lots of puppies!

In your Ted-talk you talk about giving America Chavez – and your real-life mother – permission to be soft. When was the first time you were given (or took) permission to be soft?

My first therapist and my first time at A-camp – the queer women’s camp by Autostraddle– were the only places I was ever given permission to be soft.

At A-camp I was surrounded by queer babes from all walks of life and all we wanted was to be soft and gentle with each other. And with my first therapist, I learned that I didn’t have to hold the entire world on my shoulders. I learned that I could just love on myself for a while and be as soft as I needed to be.

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