Amber Galloway-Gallego, I love this GRRRL. Her presence has a powerful and lasting impact.  I will never forget what she said during the panel at GRRRL live “When is the last time you had to think about how you were going to communicate with others?”  That one sentence changed my whole universe.  I have never thought about it, I’ve never had too.  Thank you Amber for educating us and sharing your world with us. I love your beautiful spirit. – Kelly aka Spunky

“One day I was asked to participate in a GRRRL interview. I thought to myself “well what in the world is GRRRL clothing?” I quickly searched, found the website and felt something the moment I heard the first testimony and I quickly texted KO back “it would be an honor to be a part of this in any way I can be.”

Less than a month later I received another text from KO “hey we are swinging by Texas and also there is a song… could you sign it for us?” I respond “ of course I will do whatever you need” the Van of merch arrives and KO, Brit and Tori jump out. Once the Interview is done and after a few tears and smiles KO asks, “what are you doing this up coming weekend? can you come to GRRRL Live and speak?” I think “what’s GRRRl live?” Yet again, that night I went Back to the google search to understand what I might be getting myself into. My heart immediately said yes! I texted KO and responded “ I will be there” I and purchased my ticket.

 

This movement is new for me! This GRRRL stuff is new to me! I headed to Vegas and I knew no one really. I had absolutely no clue what I was about to experience. I do know my heart and mind were excited to educate and try to inspire others about access. Little did I know that I would step into a world of woman power, beauty of all races, sizes, shapes and inspiration. It forever changed me.

I checked in and went to the pool party. I felt alone because I didn’t  know anyone. I am hard of hearing. I have difficulty hearing conversations. I didn’t know if I would be judged because I am not pretty enough, muscular enough, or strong enough. This is what myself and I am sure others have felt so many times before heading into an all woman event.  As I observed and watched  interactions, I truly saw such love and beauty. After a while the DJ asked everyone to surround the 18 and under GRRRls.  I stood and watched as these beautiful women lifted each other up and gave words of “womenisdom” women+wisdom to the younger GRRRLs.

I realized that I have always needed GRRRL in my life and didn’t know I did! Wait no all Grrrls need A #GRRRLARMY. If I had this maybe I would not have tried so hard to find the wrong love, I would have loved myself more, I would have had the tools I needed and I would not have allowed what I have allowed to happen. Maybe my scars would not have been so deep. I know I am damaged. I am broken. I feel so alone on days, I sometimes feel hopeless. I also know I am stronger because of my brokenness. I know I am better because of my awareness of others experiences.

I find hope in others and inspiration. I am a better human because I choose to approach others with equality, and to honor each persons experience and let them know they have value. I feel empowered now and want the whole world to know how killer it is to be a part of the #GRRRLARMY!  What GRRRL did was solidify that we are GRRRLS, we are worthy, we are united, yes we are damaged but yet we are beautifully O.K.”

I caught up with Gretchen Hoffer and i’m really excited to share  her point of view on GRRRL Live.  Before attending GRRRL Live I was completely ignorant to the needs of the deaf community and I have to say, I still have so much to learn. I appreciate Gretchen for being patient with my questions and truly educating me. I’m so thankful that topics like these were addressed during the panel and that we GRRRLS have been given the opportunity to become better humans. – Kelly aka Spunky

“My experience with GRRRL live 2018 was nothing short of amazing.  I also attended GL17 and while it, too, was life changing, this year really brought home the idea of sisterhood as well as bringing us all together in such amazing ways.  The opportunity we had to build connections with each other as well as the work that we were able to do on ourselves really made this year so much better. When I think back to what I took away from that weekend it is always the moments where I was focusing on what I wanted to improve about myself or an experience in connecting with another Grrrl.  I seriously cannot wait for GL19 because I know that it is only going to be bigger and better than each year before it!!

I was brought into GRRRL Live last year and this year as interpreter for one of our fellow Grrrls, who is deaf and uses ASL to communicate.  It was exciting to be part of the movement and also to advocate for the deaf community in this way. My husband is deaf and I work with the deaf as a mental health therapist so being able to connect with others in the community, help bring awareness to the community, and support deaf Grrrls has been so amazing.  

  • Can you please tell me your thoughts on being involved in the panel?

When I first saw this question I immediately clarified to Kelly that I wasn’t actually on the panel and that it was Clara Baldwin and Amber Galloway Gallego who were on the intersectional feminism panel.  I was just one of the interpreters for them. Kelly informed me that she wanted to get my perspective on my experience. It took me a while to think about how to answer this question as well as if I even wanted to answer it.  The reason for that is because my role was as an interpreter and in that role I am not important. I am not to take away from the Deaf individuals who I am interpreting for because I am their voice and that is it. A great example of this is Clara’s friend and fellow interpreter, Brenna, who was at GRRRL Live and worked with me to interpret for the weekend.  When we were given nametags to write our names on and wear she wrote on hers, “The interpreter has no name.” It was the perfect way to symbolize our role as interpreter. In interpreting situations, we are not important and should not be recognized.

Why is it more interesting that the interpreter knows sign than the fact that this is a Deaf person’s language that they use every day?  It is just something to think about and ponder. Often it is the interpreter who gets the attention, praise, and notoriety. That is not our purpose and takes away from the reason we are there and also does not then give the attention to the Deaf individual.  Both Clara and Amber talked about this during the panel and it is important to recognize and be careful who is getting the attention in these situations. Instead of commending the interpreter on their skills maybe we can communicate to the Deaf individual how beautiful ASL is as a language or another way to appreciate their culture.  

  • There is a video floating around social media with you teaching Rose Namajunas some important ASL signs.  What was that like for you? Can you tell us about the signs you were teaching her?

 

I first met Rose and Pat last year at GRRRL Live 2017 during a car ride over to the venue.  I was immediately aware of their genuineness and how humble they are in their lives as well as how easy it was to just chat with them.  Meeting Rose and Pat again this year was such a great experience and in no way did I think that Clara and I would end up teaching Rose and Pat some ASL!

It really all started with some of the other GRRRLs at the VIG lunch asking me questions about ASL in an effort to try to understand the language better.  Pat overheard the conversation and had some questions himself about the language, how the hands were used, and it led to me showing him a few signs to help him understand those parts of ASL, specifically the difference between one handed signs and two handed signs because he wanted to understand what you did with your other hand that you weren’t using to fingerspell/sign.  I showed then taught him the signs “work” and “mountain.” After the VIG lunch was over Pat was going around showing every how to sign “mountain” and that included coming up to Rose and showing her. That prompted the explanation as to why Pat was running around the room signing “Mountain” to everyone. So I also showed Rose how to sign “work” and “mountain.” Since they are from Colorado I showed them how to sign their home state.  Clara saw us signing and taught them how to sign Denver and then I showed them how to say “I live in Denver, Colorado.”

Clara then came over to see Rose and Pat sign and told them that she was going to test them on their ability to remember the signs that they were taught.  She tested them on work, mountain, Denver, Colorado, and then added in some new signs that they hadn’t yet been taught. This is where the video started and it shows Clara asking them to sign “Champ,” which they didn’t know, and then “Rose.”  The time we had together was so much fun. Both Rose and Pat were so awesome to take the time to learn more about the language and communicate with Clara, who is a huge MMA fan.

While this experience was really cool and amazing, what was also amazing was all the times that different Grrrls came up to me throughout the weekend to ask questions about ASL, Deaf culture, the Deaf community, and how they can be more respectful and understanding of the needs of a Deaf person.  Especially after the panel on intersectional feminism, which really opened the eyes to many Grrrls about the struggles that individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing struggle with on a daily basis. It has been such an amazing experience to see so much growth happen not only in myself but from all the Grrrls around me and how much GRRRL Live created a place for us to do this kind of exploration and development.”

It’s interesting, this is the first time in my entire life that I’ve gone more than 3 days without working out.  I’ve been in a gym since I was 17.  I’ve been taking some form of a stimulant like ephedra (when it was still legal) or pre workout, since 1999.  For the entire month of March, and the first week of April, in total, I’ve worked out 3 times in a gym.  I’ve had pre-workout once.  Usually, I could go 2 days, 3 at most, without working out before my body image issues would start to raise their nasty heads.  (I say head’s plural because I have a lot of fun voices in my head)

But for whatever reason, I’ve found that I’ve been ok being ok in my skin.  I’m not sure what’s happened, but I can tell you what has definitely helped: Being around a deaf person for the past couple of days.

I’ve been fine in general without working out.  But over the past two days, I’ve really started to notice how self-centered and insignificant my negative self talk is due to the fact that I’m staying in someone’s house who is deaf.  My wing-women is Tori.  She’s married to a gent who lost his hearing completely around the age of 7.  He can read lips and ‘had’ a cochlear until it died a few months back (costs $10,000 to replace since they have a monopoly on it). I didn’t realise how privileged I am, until I see (no pun intended) how much of an impact not being able to hear has on a person’s life.

Tori and I have been talking about how many people have been shot by the police for not responding to commands like “freeze” or hearing sirens, and have been blatantly shot in the head.  Speaking about it gets me all fired up, and my wheels turning, like what could we do to help identify people who are deaf?  But when you do that, it makes deaf people a target.  ….. 

Here is this man in his late 20’s, who walks around smiling, and is so pleasant all the time, not dwelling on his situation.

I’ve decided that when I get to Vegas, Thursday evening April 26th, I’ll be standing on Fremont Street in a bikini holding a sign saying “will flex for a cochlear”.  Stay posted and stay focused on moving forward.  Our body does not dictate our worth.  Be grateful for what we have, and not what the media programs us to feel like we “don’t” have….