By Rose (Triantafillia Memisaki)
Photography by Claudette Tan
If you don’t know who Desiree Jade Sol is, then you’re fortunate to have stumbled across this article. If you do know her, then you’ll know why I said that.
Desiree – a third generation Mexican-American, born and raised in Southern California – is one of the world’s gems. She is a positive, dedicated person who has devoted her life to standing up for those like her who can’t stand up for themselves. She is a committed equal rights activist.
How does she campaign for equal rights, you might ask. Sol serves on the City of West Hollywood’s Public Safety Commission and Transgender Advisory Board, recently graduated from the Los Angeles Police Department’s LGBT Community Police Academy and is the first female West Hollywood Cheerleader. She has served as sub-committee chair on the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commissions Transgender Working Group, Private Secretary of The Royal Court of West Hollywood, is a graduate of the City of West Hollywood’s Community Through Engagement Academy, and is affiliated with Bienestar, Trangeneros Unidas, APLA, Hollywood National Organization of Women, HRC, Cornerstone Theater, Women at Risk, and Break the Cycle. She has also volunteered for The Gay and Lesbian Center of Los Angeles, The Center in Long Beach, and The NOH8 campaign.
Still not convinced she’s dedicated to what she does? Then read on…
She does all this while being employed by both Target and Mimis café. She has traveled the states for work and activism and to Thailand where she had her Sexual Reassignment Surgery. As an actress Sol won rave reviews in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, StageSceneLA for her role as Maria in Making Paradise: The West Hollywood Musical. She has also appeared in singer Diana Mera’s ,SOLEMOS music video, Short films, Trans Sister Tales, Nip Tuck, and Split Endz and looks forward to future opportunities. And as if that wasn’t enough, she also holds an AA degree in business!
For the vast majority of people in today’s world dealing with their personal problems is a handful and rarely allows them enough time to extend a helping hand to others. However, luckily for the future of mankind, there are a rare few who do their utmost to make time and give that little bit extra. Desiree Jade Sol is most definitely one of those beautiful people!
So without further ado, I feel honored to present to you this short interview she took the time to be a part of.
1. Desiree, what prompted you to be an activist for LGBT rights when you were first starting out on this quest?
I was extremely young and had gone to the store with some neighbor’s (Joan and Ernie). The store owner was extremely rude and yelling at them and said they did not want their kind around here. I thought it was because they were speaking Spanish as we walked in. To see this refusal of service at such a young age RESONATED with me. I was angry at the shop owner because he made Joan and Ernie feel ashamed and unwanted.
It wasn’t until I got a lil older that I fully understood that it was because Joan and Ernie were a lesbian couple. If you see injustice, “Why would you NOT be an equal rights activist?” We, as a people, see injustice that affects us all on so many levels all around us. We, as human beings, should all have the same opportunities to reach our goals and prosper in society. This is definitely not our current situation in the world.
The need to get involved and let your voice be heard is eminent. Why are you going to let someone else tell you… where you can work, who you can love and ultimately how to live your life?
Being an equal rights activist is about unconditional LOVE. The unconditional love for my fellow human being. It is about bringing AWARENESS about the injustices that occur on every level. Why unconditional love, because it is something that we go through our entire lives looking, craving and searching for. Equality activist know loving involves, struggle, resistance and risk.
2. Why do you feel so strongly about what you do?
Each and every one of us is affected by injustice. How can you simply look the other way when there are so many people discriminated against in healthcare, housing, and employment? I simply can’t.
EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL is a very simple concept.
For those that say….Oh, let someone else fight for change or become involved I say, “Are you really going to stand by while the lawmakers redefine and amend laws that continue to discriminate? “ And to the lawmakers I ask this question, “Do you realize you are giving away your wives, and children’s rights????”
Yes people this is happening now and it is happening to you?
3. When you’re not working two jobs, furthering your education or fighting for equal rights, what do you enjoy doing that clears your head?
I enjoy power walking, hiking in Runyan Canyon, riding my bike and going to the beach. Just to sit on the sand or on the jettee rocks and feel the energy of the ocean renews my zest for life.
I also enjoy spending time with my friends Miguel and Ru Stevens-Ortiz and their beautiful triplets. This is a truly loving family and they give me hope that what I am doing can make a difference and create a better place for the future.
For people to invest in their future and the future of those still struggling, and being bullied. To unite people to come together and build a foundation for change and continue to take a stand against injustice.
5. Which do you think, of all the things you’ve been involved with so far, is the most influential to your cause and why?
Bringing AWARENESS to the injustices that exist is INFLUENTIAL… period. I BELEIVE in every opportunity to march, protest, and rally. Grass roots is everything!!! It is where you get your energy to move ahead and discover future leaders. I believe that participating and taking risks creates opportunity for change.
Equal rights for all is about the opportunity to do. It is about treating each person you come in contact with respect and dignity in the hopes that they do the same. If you can change one persons way of thinking about humanity as a whole then you have accomplished something.
6. Who would you say inspires you and gives you the strength to push forward? Is there a gem of wisdom they have given you that you wish to share with the world?
That would be my amazing grandmother Helen G. Lamb. She was a humble community activist for many causes hoping that her protests and voice could create change. She has passed on but I am so grateful I got to know and see her beautiful strong spirit.
As for a gem of wisdom I can only share this with the world….
YOU are loved, YOU are not disposable and the smallest effort YOU put forth can make a difference. I am grateful to the universe and never thought I would have the wonderful opportunities that I have been given.
7. How do you define yourself?
As an honest and productive hard working woman in society that treats people with respect and dignity.
8. How do you think others see you?
I would hope in the same way.
9. When did you first come out to someone and what was it like to do so at the time? Would you do it differently if you did it today?
I told my friend David first, he was extremely supportive, and very protective. We had many heart to heart talks and his unconditional love for me is something I will always treasure. I started my transition following the Harry Benjamin guidelines. Yes, I’m a safety girl!!! These guidelines include years of therapy, hormones, and support groups. I transitioned in the public eye while working my jobs at Target and Mimis Café. When all things were in order I had my SRS done in Thailand. I am extremely grateful to have the support of my amazing friends, open minded and loving coworkers and wonderful physicians.
10. What were the most memorable moments in this journey for you as an activist?
Speaking to members of congress and senate in Washington DC regarding ENDA. Walking the halls of congress and expressing passionately the concern for ENDA empowered me to do more.
Portraying the role of Maria in Making Paradise The West Hollywood Musical. A lead transgender role in a musical was amazing for me and the rave reviews and community feedback were so wonderful,and overwhelming. People really resonated with the musical and everyone involved was truly amazing, Miguel A. Stevens-Ortiz you have my heart!!!
11. If you were an influential politician, what one thing would you change about the current state of affairs concerning the LGBT community?
I think the best thing a politician can do to change the current state of affairs concerning the LGBT community is to be a role model, to speak from the heart, to model tolerance, to use every teaching moment to educate those who are still “in the dark” and so much more. As a politician, you have a platform and I would like to see politicians use that platform and access to media to inspire people to be better.
12. What would you say is the largest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
13. What do you see as the most crucial change that must come about in order for society to transform its current attitude toward the LGBT community?
14. What do you want the world to know about your cause?
THAT IT IS AVERY SIMPLE CONCEPT: EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL!!!!
15. What would you ask the average person to do that would help make a difference to your cause?
That in living your day to day life you treat all people with respect and dignity. Think not only about yourself but about how your actions and words have cause and effect on others. And lastly to keep your feet firmly on the ground and your clear thinking head focused in the direction of equality and justice.