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“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Biography

Denae Ramos-Pachuki, born 1982, lives in Boxford, Massachusetts. She grew up in Lynn and graduated from Lynn English High School in 2000, where she started the Gay Straight Alliance and became a member of the North Shore Alliance of GLBTQ Youth known as NAGLY. She works as a vocational rehab Counselor for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.

Watch Full Interview

Denae Ramos-Pachuki was interviewed by Professor Andrew Darien on October 31,2023. She speaks about growing up in a diverse neighborhood, coming out, her father, who is gay, Girls Inc., starting the GSA at Lynn English, political activism, Fran’s place, relationships, parenting, and treating others as you want to be treated.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Duration

58:14

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I was surrounded by such amazing diversity.

Because I was surrounded by such amazing diversity, I think I was able to really understand people and have appreciation for different people, an open-mindedness an open-mindedness that I think people in some other areas just don't get. And I think that's one of the most beautiful things about Lynn is that the diversity is so amazing that that you really do get to understand people on kind of a deeper level that you can't really teach.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Race and Ethnicity

I think she's going to be gay.

I know my mom told me that, or maybe it was my dad. One of them told me that when I was little, like little, one of them turned to the other one and was like, I think she's going to be gay. Like they just, it was just, I don't know if it was just like, cause I was always into kind of, again, more of the like boyish stuff.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Family

Life is really short.

I was 13 when that happened and her dying just out of the blue like that for me being such a young age, it was also like a wake up call. Like, wow, like life is really short. And, you know, I kind of felt this like urgency of like, you know, you have to live every day as though it's your last, you know? And so it was at that moment that I was like, you know what, like, this is how I feel. Like, I don't want to hide that. And I don't want to be fake and I don't want to be something I'm not.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Coming Out and Identity

Starting the Gay Straight Alliance at Lynn English.

I was, again, one of the only out teens. So she was like, would you wanna help with this? And I was like, yeah, definitely. And the nice thing is because we had Beth and all the other staff there, they knew of resources like the Safe Schools Initiative. There were a lot of different resources within the state that they were able to help like back us up with. Because when we did try to start things, we did get quite a bit of pushback.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Activism and Politics

Some out gay guys that just got a lot of crap.

I do know some like out gay guys that just got a lot of crap. I'm just, and I don't know if it was the difference of me being female, them being male or what, but I know that there were some people in school that did have a hard time.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Discrimination and Violence

I educated myself a lot in terms of social justice issues

When I came out, I did educate myself a lot in terms of social justice issues and what was going on in the world and kind of being active in that.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Activism and Politics

I wanted to make change.

When the Iraq war started, I like picked up and like drove to Washington DC with my friend on a whim so we could protest. Like, so in many ways there's still that like, you know, passion and I'm not totally disappointed in the world. I mean, I'm disappointed, but I'm not motivated to do anything. So I think, you know, that sparked kind of a passion for that, but at the same time, I feel like as time has gone on, it does become more draining and you do feel more kind of defeated a lot of ways, unfortunately. But I think I was still young enough that I wanted to make change.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Activism and Politics

That that makes me feel a little bit more hopeful.

I kind of like to be on more of the joyful moments for people where they get a job and they're really excited about it, or they wanna start a career, or they've been out of work for a long time and they finally are, you know, doing the thing that they wanna do. I think that that makes me feel a little bit more hopeful because you're not dealing with people when they're like low, low, low.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Mental Health

I have to go to a bar to meet people.

And that was where I kind of was thinking like, oh, that's where I'm gonna meet someone, which again, that's the sad part. Like, oh, I have to go to a bar to meet people. But that was kind of the reality.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Marriage and Relationships

Fran's was a fun place.

It was a fun place. It was like, it was like kind of like a dive bar, but it was like fun. It was so much fun. Cause you just, they would always have really good music. And I love that they had different theme nights. So they'd have like a Latin night. And And like, I love the drag queens. Like I just, they're always my favorite. I always joke. I joke with people that I was a drag queen in a previous life, I think. But, cause I love them so much, but it was just a fun place. Like it was such a, like a mixed crowd.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Fran’s Place and The Light House

There was all these things she couldn't do.

She had to wear skirts every day because that was part of the religion. She couldn't dance. Like there was all these things she couldn't do. And I think that she just wasn't able to be herself really. So I think the way I perceived her wasn't necessarily her, but the way I perceived her was like, I I wouldn't be with somebody who can't dance or wear pants or, you know, celebrate Halloween.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Religion

I felt like was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

I remember when I was younger, they're trying to watch like a show with a gay person, I I felt like was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Like, you know, I remember Roseanne had like lesbian episodes and and you're like, oh my God, like you just try to watch it. Like, or to see a dating show where there happens to be like a lesbian person, like it was like unheard of, you know? So, and still there's a lot of things that could be better, but I think it's gotten better just in terms of seeing yourself reflected in society to see, again, a lot of the young people I know, you know, there's a lot more, I think acceptance

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Generational Perspectives

I'm just happy if I can date Barbie.

I'm just happy if I can date Barbie. You know what I mean? Or like we'd play house and I'd be like, I'm gonna be the mail man. Now, I don't know why, I couldn't be the mail woman, but I wanted, or the boyfriend, like I was always wanting to be the person that was with Barbie. So that's when I kind of caught on and my friends, they would always be like, oh, okay, Denae, you're gonna do that again, right? I'm like, yep, that's what I'm gonna do.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Coming Out and Identity

My dad is gay.

My dad is gay. And he and my mother were together for many years. And he finally, because of how he grew up, he couldn't really come to terms with, times were different back then. And so, when he came out, it was obviously very hard for my mother, but it also was a moment for me to kind of say like, like, again, I kind of, I felt it, I knew I liked girls, but my father coming out kind of showed me that like, wow, like, I don't want to live a life that I don't want to have.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Coming Out and Identity

I grew up in a different time and I couldn't be myself.

I grew up in a different time and I couldn't be myself, you know? And so it was a little, I mean, it was hard. Cause obviously when your family dynamic like that changes and there's a divorce, it's obviously a big interruption. But at the same time, when my dad came out, I felt like he was a lot happier. Just

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Generational Perspectives

Pushback from the administration.

They were just very nitpicky in terms of what we could put on our posters. And like, do you wanna say it like that way? Or like, they just, you could tell they didn't, it was very much like they kind of wanted us to hide away. Like, I think what it was is I think they were afraid of ruffling other people's feathers or other parents.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Discrimination and Violence

I want you to get in the picture.

If you support the club, I want you to get in the picture. And they were like, all right. So if you look back at that yearbook photo, which again, I think if you go back through all, it was the first one ever, because we created it. The group is huge. And when really there were probably only three of us.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Youth

They all kind of shattered your sense of security.

They all kind of shattered your sense of security in different ways. Like for Matthew Shepard, it was like, oh, I could be targeted because I'm a gay person. And then with, you know, Columbine, it's just like, oh my God, this is so random and scary. And like, you know, I never grew up with like the metal detectors or like we didn't have any of that stuff. And so, but at the time I remember thinking like, this is just a fluke. Like this is like a one-time thing. And they didn't implement a lot of those things until later because I think a lot of people thought the same thing. Like this wasn't gonna be a pattern. And then with 9-11, I think that was just like, again, kind of the same thing. Like, well, this is wild and crazy, but like, hopefully it doesn't happen again, you know? But it was scary.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Mental Health

I still am hopeful.

I joke, you know, I like to quote Whitney Houston, but like, you know, I believe the children are our future, you know, whatever. But it's true because I feel like the young people are the ones that gonna make the changes, you know? And I think that a lot of the younger people I know when it comes to things like abortion, trans rights, like they're just like, whatever, like live your life. Like, we're just happy that you're doing your thing. Like, so I still am hopeful and I still feel like we're on a good path.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Generational Perspectives

I could not wait to go to bars when I was younger.

I could not wait to go to bars when I was younger, mainly because there was NAGLY, thank God, like the young people organization for LGBT Youth. But outside of that, I felt like so many of the activities that you could actually get involved in were like you go to a bar or you go to a nightclub. And that was where I kind of was thinking like, oh, that's where I'm gonna meet someone.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Youth

Fran's was a fun place.

It was a fun place. It was like, it was like kind of like a dive bar, but it was like fun. It was so much fun. Cause you just, they would always have really good music. And I love that they had different theme nights. So they'd have like a Latin night. And And like, I love the drag queens. Like I just, they're always my favorite. I always joke. I joke with people that I was a drag queen in a previous life, I think. But, cause I love them so much, but it was just a fun place. Like it was such a, like a mixed crowd.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Drag

Bars still have a place.

I do think it has a place. I think there's something to be said about being in a room full of people that, where you don't, I mean, again, no matter what room you're in there's always gonna be people that may be, there'll be some straight people or whatever. But I think to be in a room and know that these people are most likely at least gay friendly. Like there's something to be said for that.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Community and Change

I think all parents worry about this.

I think all parents worry about this, but just like the ability for her to care for herself given the cost of living her to care for herself given the cost of living and the, you know, like what it costs to buy a house. Like all of these things, I feel like they've gotten way out of control and people that normally, you know, could maybe buy a house or whatever. It's like, it's almost out of reach for people.

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Family

Don't be an asshole.

Don't be an asshole. That's, like, at the end of the day, that's kind of how I look at it. Like, I feel like there's always, like, you hear throughout history of the groups of people that are always trying to exclude another group. And then later on, you're like, wow, that was really stupid. Like, when you hear about, like, the women's movement and when that first started and they were excluding, like, African-American women and then later they were like, oh, whoopsie, you know, or like, you know, the, you know, even the women's movement excluding lesbians

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Denae Ramos-Pachucki

Community and Change

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