Searching for “supergays” is not easy, but a San Francisco couple is taking on the task.
Lisa Dazols and Jenni Chang, who have been together for three years, recently embarked on a 12-month journey to find supergays — a term they coined to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women who are breaking stereotypes not necessarily in a civil-rights fashion, but in a way that inspires those around them.
In just six weeks, they’ve come across a surf instructor in Bali, a high-court judge from Australia and even a New Zealand air force pilot, but some of the biggest challenges lie ahead.
“It’s about how they survive,” Chang said of the people they meet. “We’ve been in the Western cultures where it’s OK to be out, but now we’re going to some places in the developing world where it is less acceptable. So it will be a bit of a challenge.”
The search is similar to the “It Gets Better” project, which, according to its website, was launched in response to the increasing number of youths nationwide who are committing suicide following bullying from peers over their sexuality.
Chang said “It Gets Better” shows young people they can get through the tough times of adolescence, but she and her partner wanted to take the campaign one step further and provide teens with role models.
“We hope to show them gays have thriving, successful lives,” she said. “There are definitely lots of sad stories, but we want to highlight the hopeful stories.”
The couple plans to travel through Asia, Africa and South America. Along the way, they are taping interviews with gays they find and hope to use the footage back in the United States to share with community groups and even churches, where some misconceptions and homophobia still exist.
So far they’ve relied on their own connections and their ability to meet people wherever they go. In Indonesia, where the couple was last week, for instance, they met a man who was more than willing to introduce them to his boyfriend, but he said his sister — whom he lives with — does not know he’s gay.
“And he works in an HIV agency,” Dazols said. “This kid has enough self-esteem to know who he is and help his community, but there’s something threatening to him that keeps him from coming out. It’s very interesting.”
Chang and Dazols may be out to find their own definition of supergays, but the couple — an eBay executive and a licensed social worker in HIV services, respectively — could fit the mold as well. But when asked if they are considered supergays themselves, both women hesitated.
“Our definition is definitely evolving,” Chang said. “In our country, being out is ideal, but in other countries, giving back to the community but not completely out, but just living is ideal.”
Dazols added, “We’re just ordinary people trying to meet extraordinary people.”
Lisa Dazols and Jenni Chang are traveling around the world in search of LGBT men and women who are making a positive impact in their communities.
17 Countries they plan to visit
12 Months of their journey
1 Documentary to highlight LGBT communities
Follow Jenni and Lisa on their trek at www.outandaround.com.