The mastermind behind Gay Astronaut Jewelry is a 16-year-old POC pansexual woman from Florida, named Waverly. She has made a name with her controversial maxi pad and trans awareness/body positivity earrings. This woman is beyond amazing and dedicated to activism inside and outside of her jewelry company. I asked her some questions about the jewelry, activism, and what has happened in her teen years with coming out.
Q: When did you first start making jewelry? When did it first become a calling or passion for you?
—I started making jewelry, specifically earrings, around June 2020. COVID-19 hit Florida pretty bad, and making earrings was a hobby I found while in quarantine. I needed a job but because of my asthma, I felt unsafe getting a normal summer job. I started my Depop in hopes of selling at least a few things, which has thankfully worked out. I also have just never seen earrings I really enjoyed or wanted. None of the styles fit me, and so I wanted to make some that would. I knew there were people who felt the same, which is why it motivated me to get my shop up and out there.
Q: You have made earrings out of little maxi pads, doll shoes, etc, when does your creativity strike for all of the different earrings for you?
—I honestly have no idea. What typically happens is I think of a word and slowly come up with something (ex. I would think of ties and somehow end up at bow-tie pasta). I also take a lot of suggestions from people who follow me, I mean they are the ones giving me a job I love.
Q: What inspired you to start making jewelry with the messages of the taboo topics of periods and body positivity?
— I was actually on my period when I started to think about it. I’ve always been an activist, even in middle school. I have no shame in talking about my period or saying how it makes me feel, but others do. It comes from stereotypes and stigmas created by men to silence us about the topic since it’s seen as impure and taboo. It can be as little as having your boyfriend be embarrassed to pick you up a box of tampons, to the government taxing them as a luxury item.
Q: Are there any challenges you faced since your business is owned by you, a POC LGBTQIA+ person?
—Oh god yes. The amount of people who spam “Trump 2020” in my comments for no reason is insane. I’ve been harassed over Instagram DMs, e-mail, and even my personal accounts. Not only have I gotten homophobic comments I cannot repeat, but a load of Asian jokes as well. The typical eye and dog jokes we Asians get, but also I’ve been accused of not being POC since “I don’t look Asian enough”. It’s gotten better over time, but it still happens quite a lot.
Q: Is there anything you would like the future to bring for you or the LGBTQIA+ community?
— I just want equal rights and freedom. I just want a place where I don’t have to worry about having my rights taken away by the person who is supposed to lead the country. I want to try to help us get the rights and life we deserve, especially black trans people. I know it won’t do much, but I hope one day to be able to open a shop here in Florida and employ homeless and/or LGBTQ+ people to help them.
Q: As a POC LGBTQIA+ person, what is your stance on the BLM and women’s rights movements?
—I think it’s fantastic and about damn time. I myself have gone to a BLM protest here in West Palm Beach on the Fourth of July. It amazes me that we even need protests to prove to people that black lives matter. That they simply MATTER. Not matter more, just simply matter. So if you don’t support BLM, how can you say you’re not racist? It also has shown how powerful people are when we work together for freedom and justice. When one of us is in need and trouble, we get out there and fight for it, even if it means we have to burn our own city down. Black Lives Matter. They will matter today, tomorrow, and every day after that. Black lives are precious. For women’s rights, it’s beautiful but heartbreaking at the same time. We have to fight for our own bodies. We have to fight for our freedoms which are being taken away by men (once again). Our body is not a political playground. Our vagina is not a political playground. So stop acting like it is. Both of these things are not political issues. These are human rights issues. These are moral issues. These are people’s lives and bodies being controlled just for their existence. So act like it.
Q: What does the word “discrimination” mean to you?
—Discrimination to me means the unjust treatment of people for things like race, sexual orientation, religion, disability (physical or mental), and gender. Discrimination can range from things as small as grabbing your bag when a person of color walks by, to taking away someone’s rights. It’s 2020 and these things still exist, and it’s exhausting as an Asian pansexual woman. I get bigots are obsessed with us, but you didn’t have to drag these ideals and this obsession with you from the 60s.
Q: Have you ever heard of a story about an LGBTQIA+ person facing discrimination in your area, or have you personally been discriminated against for your sexual orientation or gender identity?
—Yes, unfortunately. I live in South Florida, so there a lot of racism and homophobia here. For example, in middle school a rumor went around that I was lesbian, which led me to sit alone at lunch, losing friends, and name-calling. I went to a private Christian high school for 2 years, and let me tell you, that was the most bigotry I’ve ever seen. In the first week of my sophomore year in the art class, I was put at a table with some international students from Asia. The teacher asked me to be translated for them and asked if I spoke English well. These students were Chinese, and I am a Thai who was born in Arizona. So there were a lot of issues there, but this stuff happened for a week. I was also called many things by students there, such as w**re, dyke, fa**ot, dog eater, chinky eyes, etc. I was also told there I was white because I wasn’t “Asian enough” or like “other Asians”. Still to this day I have no clue what that meant. I have also been outed, got rumors spread I was a lesbian, and a girl told people I was “obsessed with her” because I like girls. I was also discriminated against because I am a Wiccan and not a Christian, and almost got failed on an art project because it wasn’t god-like enough. Since then I have been violently queer and have been obviously showing it to make the old republican men and teens here mad. It gives me the joy to see that just my existence is enough to piss people off. I have heard of a ton of other people’s stories about discrimination that was heartbreaking too, but I will not share those for privacy reasons. I now go to a way better and open school, so I don’t think it will be as big of a problem.
Q: Your jewelry is devoted to helping professionals support the LGBTQIA+ community, and those who are questioning, and homeless women. Typically, in your opinion, what can be done for the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community to be met in society?
—First off, we need to get rid of conversion camps and therapy. Why do those exist outside of the 50s? I have no clue. We also need more youth homes for LGBTQIA+ people for if they are kicked out of their homes by their horrible parents for being LGBTQIA+. We also just need our rights protected as much as the straight’s rights are protected. Do we just want at least equal rights, is that too much to ask for?
Q: What is your opinion on the Trump ideologies of women and the LGBTQIA+ community?
—Yikes. I’ve made a few videos on all the instances Trump was homophobic and transphobic, and let’s just say I couldn’t even get through all of the times. There’s way too many. Trump has tried to take away our rights multiple times and has taken away anti-discriminatory protections that Obama had put in place. It’s known Trump is homophobic, transphobic, racist, xenophobic, sexist, etc. That’s why most people like him because they like he’s a bigot who’s ideologies are stuck in the 1700s. If you are LGBTQIA+ and support him, you’re voting for someone who doesn’t even like your existence. He has never respected women. He has not only raped 40+ women and children but has jokes about it too. He judges women not by their character and skill, but by how big their tits are. He treats women like objects that are meant to serve men. I say screw that. He hates women who are strong and independent because he knows he can’t control us. Women are gorgeous goddesses, no matter your size, if you have stretch marks, or if you aren’t the European beauty standard. We are gorgeous, we are powerful, we are women.
If you would like to purchase any jewelry, check out the DePop and Instagram. All of the feminine product jewelry proceeds go to a foundation dedicated to helping homeless women receive menstrual cycle items.