Let's all meet this week's HI MY NAME IS...Brielle. She's going to tell us a little bit about herself and there's alot to tell. Any one of her jobs would make for an interesting interview, but she's been a real "Jill of all trades" so to speak.
Who have you been quarantined with all of this time?
Well hey!! I'm Brielle. I live in Brooklyn, NY. Where to start? I am an educator, loving parent, LGBTQIA advocate, and avid music lover. I have been happily quarantined with my amazing wife, Ashley, and our two children in our apartment.
Tell us more about your family? What is it like being same-gender parents? (Is that the right term?)
Sure! My family is doing fine. I mean, as fine as a family can be after 4 months in the same apartment. We started out with a ton of activities and crafts, but, recently, it seems to be a lot of Disney+ and Trolls World Tour. Some of it is actually really good (BLUEY is such a fun kids show), but I can do without watching Trolls 4 times each day.
I think that is the correct term. At least, I think it is a much more inclusive term for possible queer partnerships. Being same-gender parents is great! Then again, I may be a little biased. It is very special to have a household with two moms and two daughters. Also, it is simply amazing to get to process the world through their eyes and experiences. Our oldest just finished up Pre-K, and she knows so much about the types of families and people that exist in the world. Her school was so good about promoting diverse portrayals of families. It helps at home too. We've been able to buy all types of children's books for her that display a family like hers. Seeing that type of family displayed to her in such a normal context, at such a young age, is amazing. The world she will grow to know is sure to be a much more inclusive one that the world we grew up in. The girls are a riot. We have so much fun every day. Then again, they are only 4 and 3 right now. Ask again when they're teenagers. I'm sure I'll have a much more "complex" answer to this question.
You were right there living in Brooklyn when Covid first hit, was it as bad as the news made it out to be? exaggerated? worse? Give us a first hand account.
It was as scary as you heard that it was. Seriously though, depending on what part of the city you were in, it was looking like a zombie outbreak movie over here. Medical tents in the streets, lines for food at the local school for all 3 meals a day, a total shutdown of basically everything. NYC got hit so hard, and we were so underprepared. Even after things started closing and tourists stopped coming, it still kept spreading so quickly. One reason for this, in my opinion, was transportation. Nobody here has a vehicle. Everyone, sick or healthy, has been sitting together on the subway every single day. At the beginning, I'm sure many of the people that were going for Covid tests would have to have taken a ride on the subway to get to a Covid test. That's why the tents and testing sites had to pop up everywhere, including in neighborhoods. Even now, people are playing it very safe. My family still isn't leaving the house without a very good reason to, and I've seen very few people, still, who are not wearing a mask everywhere that they go. We are lucky enough to have the entire first floor of a house as our apartment, so forced interactions with others are very limited. We also have our own tiny backyard and small deck. There is a family upstairs, but we have not seen them.
You worked as a Cast Member for Disney. What was your role? Were you a princess?
I did work as a Disney Cast member. No...no...I don't think I gave off that "princess" vibe. I actually worked as a Cast Member right here in NYC! To celebrate Mickey turning 90 years old, Disney hosted an exhibition in Chelsea called "Mickey: The True Original Exhibition". It collected and displayed extremely rare video, physical, and audio from the Disney vault. Some of the earliest ever drawings and storyboards of Mickey were on display, as well as collections of Disney inspired art from all over the world! It was like a walk through the history of Mickey Mouse. My role was at the very end of the experience. I worked as the host for a small game show called "Mickey's Gameshow Live". It was the only "queued" attraction in the exhibition, and often drew a rather large crowd. We had family guests, but also on special nights, some very VIP guests. During one particular evening, the Board of Disney and ABC, as well as some major stars, came by for a private walkthrough, and I was given the opportunity to do a 10 minute 1 on 1 conversation and demo of my gameshow for the CEO of Disney (at the time) , Bob Iger. It was an amazing job!!! Definitely a dream come true.
You've also said that you've worked as an Anatomy and Physiology Instructor? Was this for a school? If so, at what level did you teach? Does anyone ask you about Coronavirus? Any tips or educated opinions on how we stay safe?
Yes ,I most certainly have! My educational background is actually in Biology Education and Nursing. Following completion of my Nursing degree, I returned to school to become certified to teach. That being said, I specialize in teaching Anatomy and Physiology. My favorite teaching job, which I held previously to my current role, was as a CHS (College in High School) Anatomy and Physiology Instructor. This is a course that High school seniors could elect to take, if they were pursuing a career in the medical field. It was very cool. I even was able to take my students into the "observation deck" of an operating room and we watched a live Open-heart surgery! It was a great opportunity for students to see what we were learning first-hand. Also, it was a good opportunity for them to see if they could stomach the job.
In regards to Covid, prevention and teamwork are the keys to success. I know that there is this whole "mask debate", but honestly, you should be wearing one. Not only does it help you to not spread the virus (if you have Coronavirus and are either a carrier or asymptomatic), but wearing one in accountability with others will help to keep you and your family safe. New York learned the hard way, and they learned fast. We stand as an unfortunate example of what could happen (and is now happening) as the virus makes its way through the US. Self-isolating and wearing protective equipment (if you need to go out in public) will get your community through this crisis. I know people would love to go get a haircut during this difficult worldwide event. But here's the thing, if you're doing it right, no one will know you need one in the first place.
You are also involved in matters related to the LGBTQIA community. Care to tell us more about that? Are there any links or groups that others can get involved in or seek out?
I am very involved in advocacy for the LGBTQIA community in three main areas: Healthcare, Education, and Religious spaces. Having been raised, and now employed, in those intersections, it is very important to me that the LGBTQIA community has a distinct voice and presence in each. As a teacher, I have facilitated my school's GSA, and lead LGBTQIA+ Inclusion workshops for both staff and students. GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) has a ton of resources for educators or students looking to create a space for LGBTQIA+ in a school setting. You can find more information here: https://www.glsen.org/
In regards to healthcare, I have spoken on panels for hospital networks and healthcare staff on the importance of identification and treatment of LGBTQIA+ needs. Specfically, this past year, I spoke on the increasingly alarming needs that face the Transgender and non-binary community. Those needs include: access to mental healthcare and counseling, use of preferred name and pronouns, access to health insurance, and locating a Primary Care Provider (PCP). New York City is a great place to be for LGBTQIA+ individuals, especially in regards to health, but I feel like this type of advocacy and discussion are still fighting for a moment in the spotlight in other parts of the country.
Lastly, as someone who was raised in a very religious home, I am very passionate about the need for affirming ministries. This may surprise you, but many queer people, who were raised in a religious environment, leave their faith behind. Just kidding, that's certainly not a surprise. You may find it surprising, though, that there are many queer people who did not give up their faith and religion after leaving their church. I am one of those people. Say what you will, but I could never have made it this far into my life without believing in something greater than myself. I have never needed my faith more than I have since coming out to my family and pursuing this life in New York. Luckily my wife and I found a great church in Brooklyn called Forefront. Through our partnership with the church, I am leading a LGBTQIA+ ministry called Queer Communion. We host weekly events online (and hopefully in-person soon) for anyone, anywhere, that is interested in joining and entering into that space to deconstruct their experiences and build fellowship with others like them. It's really wonderful, and I know that type of space doesn't exist in many places. I'm sure this topic hasn't come up on this site before lol. If you're at all interested in that (there may be a few of you) feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.