Oral History with Monserrat Ramirez

Special Collections at UNC Asheville
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00:02:35 - Living and Moving to WNC 00:03:52 - Interpreting Work

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Partial Transcript: So I've been part of um the interpreter cooperative I'm a founding member of Cenzontle language justice cooperative, we started about four maybe five years ago lose track of time but um but we're a group of
social justice and language justice interpreters um that kind of came together and well, we've been doing this as freelance and just supporting our communities like how do we get together and just create economic stability and also grow and being able to bring more folks into the work.

Keywords: community work; freelance work; interpreting; interpreting trainings

00:08:10 - Life/Childhood History and Growing up in WNC

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, like I said, I mostly grew up in Western North Carolina, but I was brought

to the US whenever I was about five or six years old by my parents when they

immigrated here from Mexico. So kind of spend a little time in Mexico but mostly

grew up here in Western North Carolina and I have for the most part of my life

been here and have done some traveling through work, but have lived here my

whole life and really enjoy it and have made a lot of community members and

family here.

Keywords: Immigration; Mexico; School Life; WNC

00:11:31 - Coming Out, Background in Christianity, and Connection Between the Two

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Partial Transcript: And now we're going to move into your coming out story. So again, if at any

point you don't feel comfortable sharing, just let me know and we'll skip that

question or take a moment and take as much time as you need to think about the

answer. So can you tell me about your coming out journey? So what influenced

your coming out? How were others formative in that process in supporting you or

maybe not supporting you and are there places or people where you are not out as

LGBTQ+? And I can put those in the chat as well because I know that was a long question.


It sounds good. Yeah. And I feel like I'm still in my journey, but feel for the

most part out and yeah I really didn't realize or had thought about it that I

was queer. I feel like I didn't identify as queer until maybe I was like in high school

Keywords: Christianity; Coming Out; LGBTQ+; Queer; SONG

00:18:05 - Community Interaction in WNC and Support from WNC Friends

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Partial Transcript: That's a good question. I feel like it's hard here in Asheville. I would say

it's a small town and then the circle is even smaller. I feel like everyone has

dated everyone and, or it's like similar friend circle. So I feel like that gets

a little complicated, just like in a smaller city. And even just like growing up

in a small town it's like hard to find where the queer people are at. But

usually now as an adult, like dating apps, I feel is a good place to find folks

or just friend circles is what I would say. I don't know if I have any cool

stories, but I've met a lot of cool people through dating apps and just like

connections with friends. Not any particular one that stands out.

Keywords: Asheville; BIPOC; Dating; Latinx; Queer

00:24:53 - Serious Issues in the LGBTQ+ Community, Discrimination, and Reducing Harm in Young Queer People

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Partial Transcript: Yeah. I don't know if I have any concrete ideas but yeah, I feel like I've been

pretty lucky to have... It's been a journey, but for the most part I feel like

my family is still kind of dealing with it and kind of like now as I get older

and because I'm 25 now and have not lived with them and kind of am my true self

and unapologetic about that, they're like, "Okay, fine. I guess this is who you are."


But for the most part, my family has been pretty, I would say good. I haven't

really had any issues of, "Oh no. You're going to be disowned." Or not talking

to me. I feel like they've had a journey with it and it's been difficult, but

for the most part they're like, "Okay, I love you and you're my daughter," but

yeah, I couldn't imagine not being able to have access to my family or like

support in that way.

Keywords: Consequences; Criminalization; Discrimination; Educating Parents; Homelessness

00:30:14 - Treatment with Public Institutions, Societal Influence, and Social Activism

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Partial Transcript: Yeah. Like I said, I haven't had much issues personally, but I do have like

community members or friends who do come across barriers either to get medical

access or language access.And I feel like there are those barriers. I have DACA

which is like deferred action for childhood arrivals. So even like that I

couldn't imagine like having to be queer and trans and wanting to change your

name and having to go through all those additional things that you have to deal

with, like with documents and governments.

Keywords: Activism; BIPOC; DACA; Interpretation Training; Medical Access; SONG; Teargassing

00:37:38 - Hispanic Interaction in The Community and Segregation in Asheville

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, I feel like Asheville in general is just a very segregated city. Just like

the way that it's organized. I don't know. Like where live and where people have

been pushed out of even like through gentrification and just like folks maybe

moving out to the county a little bit more and richer folks moving in to the

city. And like I said, there's a lot of... I feel like Asheville is pretty queer

affirming, but it's very, very, very white and there's not a lot of spaces for

queer and trans, black and brown people to... At least for me I don't feel

comfortable being in a space where it's all white people because our lives are a

lot different with the things that we deal with.

Keywords: BIPOC; Queer Affirming; Segregation

00:40:08 - Work & Activism for the WNC Community/Future Goals

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Partial Transcript: Kathia, Interviewer:

And do you see yourself kind of continuing this work throughout like the rest of

your life since from what I'm gathering, it gives you a lot of joy and it's

something that you're really passionate about.


Yeah. I feel like this is lives work. So yeah, I definitely do see myself

continuing to learn because I feel like I'm definitely still learning as well.

And also be able to share this and continue this work.

Keywords: Activism; Community Gardening; NAFTA; Renovations; SONG

00:46:56 - Herbalism and Cultural Roots

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Partial Transcript: Yeah. I feel like there's a lot of indigenous practices and memory with

herbalism and it's just a way to use what the earth gives us as a way to take

care of ourselves and heal ourselves that is healthy for us and the planet too.

I feel like a lot of folks because of racism and because of access to healthcare

don't trust or can't access the healthcare system and they are like medicine

that we can extract or use from plants that do support either our immune system

or there's like tinctures and teas and [inaudible 00:48:05] that can be used to

help us and heal ourselves that isn't like chemicals or created in a factory or

a lab.

Keywords: Herbalism; Indigenous; Medicine; Traditions

00:51:15 - Radical Healing and POC Communities

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Partial Transcript: So definitely having time off and connecting with chosen family and doing the

things that give me joy and that I'm passionate about is helpful to not get

burnt out. But yeah, I feel like a lot of folks do hold so many roles in their

communities and wear so many hats that it is super hard to find that balance.

But I think doing what's needed and what's necessary and taking care of

yourself, going to therapy, eating right, those are some examples.

Kathia, Interviewer:

Thank you. And have you seen kind of different spaces in the Western North

Carolina community where radical healing is something that is prioritized and

the rest also?

Keywords: BIPOC; Caring for Yourself; Community Interaction; Connecting; SONG