Mikhala and Lorenzo: Love Conquers All
Photos by Sarah Naselli
Hello readers! Here is an interview between myself and two close friends, Mikhala and Lorenzo. Just so you can have some context, Mikhala and Lorenzo are married and Lorenzo is transgender. I have known these two since I was in the 4th or 5th grade, and have admired their relationship ever since. It is no secret that they have undergone a lot of social discrimination and have had to deal with issues between family and friends. I wanted to sit down and talk to them about this as well as take an opportunity to learn more about the LGBTQI community for myself. I know that there are tons of people out there who may be wanting to come out, or may be wanting to transition, but are scared of the unknown and how family/friends might react. With that being said, I am also aware that there are tons of people who don’t know how to react to a family member, or a friend, coming out about either. Here I ask questions regarding both, but for length purposes the interview is very condensed. From 2 hours of lots of great info, to 10 short question and answers. With that being said, if you are left feeling like you have more questions, or just need to talk, we encourage you to write to our Dear Venus page. I also want to include Mikhala’s Tumblr page in case you ever want to get in contact with Mikhala or Lo.
When did you first start questioning your sexuality or your sexual identity?
Was there a point where you began to question or did you just always know? How did it make you feel?
Mikhala: Honestly, I really didn’t question anything until I met Lauren. At the time I wasn’t questioning shit, I liked what I liked, and then I met this individual that made me open my horizons to what I kind of already knew I wanted in a person. It just wasn’t in the package that I had pictured before. So I guess probably around 17 when we met. But a little before then my friends would question it because of little things here and there. I didn’t like it when guys were shirtless around me it honest to God made me uncomfortable. Like why can you be naked and I can’t, that’s fucked up. And girls always thought that was weird about me.
Lorenzo: When I was about 5 or 6 years old I was in love with the pink Power Ranger. I already knew that I liked girls. I always tried to dress just like my brother and I tried to be just like him. So I never really felt like a girl I just felt like a boy all the time. My parents thought I was just a tomboy so they always tried to get me to like girl stuff but honestly I knew from a very young age that I was not a girl who liked boys I was a boy who liked girls, you know what I mean?
How did your family/friends feel about it?
Mikhala: You should go first…
Lorenzo: Well I came out to my family in the 6th grade. My brother was the very first person I ever told and he literally looked at me and I said “uh I like girls” and he kind of always thought I was a tomboy in his eyes so I said that and he just looked at me and was like “I kind of already knew that” and then that was it we just kept playing video games. Like he didn’t think twice, didn’t think much of it. And I told my mom next. I had told her I had something to tell her but didn’t know how to. And so after like 30 minutes of her just trying to get it out of me I just told her “mom, I like girls” and she was like “well that’s okay, I still love you. It's not too much of a surprise like I kind of always questioned it but I wanted you to come out whenever you wanted to come out”. I was a little scared to tell my dad but when I did he was like “well it doesn’t change anything” and then we started talking about how he likes Gwen Stefani.
Mikhala: Well telling my dad was not easy. He definitely didn’t accept it for a while and we’re still piecing stuff together. It was a really shitty situation for so long because we felt so alienated. But talking about it is so funny because it’s not like that at all now.
My mom has always been sort of supportive of the gay community, she’s in theater so she’s had tons of friends who are (LGBTQI). But I lost pretty much all of my high school friends and I don’t give a shit about it. I really don’t care. The ones that I have as friends were acquaintances in high school that I have grown fond of over the years and I am completely okay with it. Cause everyone else was kind of shitty. They weren’t meant to be.
How do you respond to people who treat you differently or try to insult you? What do they say?
Lorenzo: I used to get really upset… I used to be like “Hi! Can I help you?!” So that they would just get embarrassed. And honestly now it's just whatever. I know some people are like “what is that” but that doesn’t really bother me that much like okay… I’m questionable. But is that bad? Is it bad to look like that? Usually now when we’re out I’ll just smile right back at them. Now if they’re trying to talk shit to me, I’ll talk shit right back, I don’t care. I had this one old man come in one day loudly asking me “are you a boy or a girl?” Everyone was staring at him like “what the hell is your problem?” So he was just embarrassing himself, and I pretty much just let people do that.
So despite a lot of the negatives, you’ve mentioned that there has been a sort of progression with how people respond to you...
M: Yeah, we’ve had this couple come in like every Sunday to get salads and a tuna sandwich for years and we had just gotten engaged so Lo was like “I’m getting married!” and they go “to who?!” so Lorenzo points to me and the man goes “good job” (laughs). So we do get a lot of support from people. We all just try to help each other out because we are still extremely discriminated against.
For the people who don’t know or don’t understand what it is to be transgendered, how would you define it?
L: If you’re transgendered in my eyes, that’s you being one sex and being trapped in the opposite sex’s body. That would be my definition of transgender. You know, a lot of people have different definitions of transgender, but by my definition, I am a guy trapped in a girl’s body.
Does it take the act of transitioning to be considered transgender?
M: No, if you are transgender then you’re transgender and that’s it. Imagine being and feeling a certain way but not having the funds to change into that. Would it be fair to say that you’re not transgender because you don’t have the money? No, and this is something that needs to be addressed for other people.
What would you say to the people who are currently thinking about coming out/transitioning but may be afraid?
Lorenzo: I would say that it is better to live your life as who you are than go your whole life living a lie. You’d be so much happier. You’ll be happier being yourself and nothing can really replace that. Even if everyone is behind you and supporting you, there’s still going to be that one person that’s going to give you problems. There’s always going to be people that have aren’t okay with it, but it’s not worth being uncomfortable with yourself.
Before we started recording, you mentioned how your dad refers to you as “pan sexual”.
What does that mean?
Mikhala: Yeah, that just means you like whoever, it doesn’t matter what body they’re in it just means you like whoever you like. I don’t really know exactly what my sexuality is, all I know is that I really love Lo. If you limit yourself on your options of finding a soul mate, you’re less likely to find the right one. There’s a lot of good people out there, so who cares what anybody else thinks?
How do you like to be addressed?
M: The pronouns are really difficult, even I sometimes mess it up…
L: It’s not really the name, like I don’t mind being called Lauren, Lo, Lorenzo, or whatever. It’s more of the pronouns. And I don’t really get upset since I’ve been dealing with this my whole life. So I prefer male pronouns but I know it’s hard for some family and people who have been referring to me as a “she”. So I never really get offended. And there’s a way to go about asking people what they prefer. You don’t need to keep asking. Just ask once so that you’ll know what’s better for them, but don’t think about it too much. Bring it up like you would want it to be brought up to you, just think about it like that.
What would you say to the family or friends of people who are trying to come out or trying to transition?
L: Unconditional love. If they’re your true friends and if they care about you then they will give you unconditional love.
M: Yeah I hear really sad stories about kids wanting to take their lives because people lack unconditional love...
L: Exactly, so I would honestly say just be there. Be there for support, be there for venting, give them advice if they need it. You can still make someone feel better even if you don’t know how they really feel.
To wrap it up, I wanted to ask you guys one more question. I have known you guys for years now, and have gotten to see your relationship develop into what it is now. After all this time and everything you have gone through, what was it like to walk down the aisle and have your family and friends there to share that moment with you?
M: Oh dude it was super fucking surreal. Getting everything ready for it took a lot but it was worth it. Definitely fun and the best time of our entire lives.
L: I loved it. Being there with her was everything I knew it would be.
How is it to be married to each other now?
L: It really doesn’t feel any different… I mean I have a ring on now.
M: Yeah, and my last name is Valencia (they both giggle).
Any last words before we stop recording?
Lorenzo: The world would be a much happier place if everybody was just themselves and understood that just because some people like to do different things doesn’t mean it has to affect your life or that you have to care about it.
Mikhala: I think people forget the golden rule, like treat others how you want to be treated. It’s not that difficult of a rule to remember.