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The Feministing Five: Sonia Guiñansaca

Sonia Guiñansaca is a queer migrant feminist poet, cultural organizer, and activist. For this week’s Feministing Five, we were thrilled to speak with her about poetry, her work, and her inspiration.


Sonia is an incredible leader amongst artistic and activist communities having spent over eight years as a national figure within the immigrant rights movement. She has participated in numerous actions such as the second recorded civil disobedience action done by undocumented youth. Along with this work, she has also been a part of organizations for undocumented migrant artistry such as  the Undocuwriting Project, where she helps to create an intentional and incubating space for undocumented writers to hone their crafts, connect with one another, and bring out a range of themes that speak to their experiences of migration.

And now, without further ado, the Feministing Five with Sonia Guiñansaca!

Suzanna Bobadilla: Do you remember when you first started to write poetry? What about the art do you particularly love?

Sonia Guiñansaca: I remember that at a very young age I was writing in my heart locket journal and always hiding it away so that my mom would not find it. I was writing about my pre-teen love, body changes, and about the aches in a migrant family household. I did not have the language yet to call it what it was, but I would say that those were the first instances of my poetry writing. In school you grow up reading poetry by dead white straight writers so the idea that I could write in a similar format was outrageous. It was when teachers started to actively have us read poetry by Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes that I looked at my journal as a work of art with a range of poetry pieces. It’s not about when I started to write poetry (because we been writing poetry), but more so when does the migrant bilingual student feel supported as a writer, and given examples of poets of color that’s assures them that they too can be poets. I love that poetry enables writers of color to play with words, space, and imagery, it allows us to claim language.

SB: As an artist and an activist, your work frequently intersects and intertwines across different audiences, content, and styles. What about that do you find exciting?

SG: I find exciting that I can introduce folks (especially those coming from organizing/activist spaces) to a more creativity, visionary, fun, and healing way of being political. That art and politics are not in isolation; rather, they compliment and coexist. That art, artists, and culture are not peripheral but central to social change. We need a road map that reminds us why we are living, why we are fighting, why we are doing all this work. Artists then enable that; they incite our love, our aches, and our curiosity. At the end of the day, the 100-page policy packet does not hold you at night. It is the poetry, the music, and food that offer that space to hold you as a whole human being. These frequent intersections allows for the normalization of artists and the creative process. On my Instagram, I center artists of color. I expose community folks to badass visual artists/poets/musicians, humanizing their creative practice and at the same time acknowledging the labor that goes into it.

And vice versa, I am also connecting to other artists in a range of fields that remind me of the power to just dive into the imagination. I get to learn about other femmes of color, femmes of size, and vary femme & queer fashion and style. I am also learning about struggles that may not be my own like the transcending work of trans of color activist and on the ground political work by sick and disables queer of color community.

SB: How do you use the practice of writing as a way to continue your pursuit of justice?

SG: A queer migrant woman of color writing is a political statement. It is an audacious act for me to create, and imagine. That’s justice-making. I am only meant to be the subject, but here I am actually writing. That is power shifting. My writing is justice making because I am able to engage a vulnerable and multi-faceted existence not otherwise even bothered with in mainstream literature. Breaking down colonial misconception and conditioning around who gets to create and be visionary.

I am constantly fighting for writing time, a space to write, a physical space to write, and that’s a pursuit of justice for a migrant whose home is always in flux. As a writer, I am also archiving, not only confirming my existence but also of my community’s existence where otherwise we are ignored and/or erased.

SB: Do you have any upcoming projects or campaigns that you would like to give a shout-out to?

SG: CultureStrike, in collaboration with Justseeds Artists’ Collective, has just released an art portfolio titled “We Are The Storm,” featuring 22 pieces from 22 different artists from across the country in collaborative efforts with 22 different climate and environmental justice organizations. For more info, click here. You can also check out our new video demystifying who gets to be Climate Change warrior.

I recently saw the trailer for “Happy Birthday Marsha,” a film about legendary transgender artist and activist, Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson and her life in the hours before the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. Written and directed by Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel. They are currently raising funds to complete the film. I would urge folks to visit their IndieGogo campaign page and donate!

I also really appreciate the work of Trans Latina Coalition, so I also want to give them a shout out.

SB: Let’s pretend you are stranded on a desert island. You can take with you one food, one drink, and what feminist. What do you choose? 

SG: Ecuadorian ceviche, aloe juice, and my partner, KayUlanday Barrett.

Featured image by Nye’Lyn Tho, portrait image by Kay Ulanday Barrett. 

San Francisco, CA

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist. According to legend, she first publicly proclaimed that she was a feminist at the age of nine in her basketball teammate's mini-van. Things have obviously since escalated. After graduating from Harvard in 2013, she became a founding member of Know Your IX's ED ACT NOW. She is curious about the ways feminists continue to use technology to create social change and now lives in San Francisco. She believes that she has the sweetest gig around – asking bad-ass feminists thoughtful questions for the publication that has taught her so much. Her views, bad jokes and all, are her own. For those wondering, if she was stranded on a desert island and had to bring one food, one drink, and one feminist, she would bring chicken mole, a margarita, and her momma.

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist.

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