'Teen Faggots' coming to life'Jaycee Tanuvasa came out as transgender at her Catholic boys school, fell in love with a boy, and had to slay a few ‘dragons’ for love. Her story is just one of five inspiring true tales coming to The Basement Theatre in Auckland Pride Festival’s Teen Faggots Come to Life!
“It was my first love when I was about 15 going on 16,” the self-described ‘Mangere girl’ tells GayNZ.com of her story. “Nearly everyone has told me I was the first transgender-fa’afafine to have a public relationship with a boy in high school. What was different about it is that I’m transgender and he’s a straight boy.” She quickly adds: “I didn’t see it as different, but people on the outside would.”
Tanavasa was completely public about the relationship, and was bolstered by the support of her peers - she was one of a ground-breaking bunch who ‘came out’ while at De La Salle College. “There was a massive group of us – the only group I’ve heard of aside from Kelston Boys as well. A bunch of divas and queens,” she says.
The torch has been carried on too, with Tanuvasa helping younger students do the same, and those people now in turn supporting others. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. She says there were “two dragons and a woman of great power” who came between her and her first love. All will be revealed in her contribution to Teen Faggots Come to Life which is called ‘A Different Kind of Love’.Now 20, Tanavusa studied performing arts after high school and was told she should get in touch with performer and mentor Mika.
She’s one of five from his latest crop of talented Maori and Pacific Island youngsters who will offer audiences a glimpse into real teenage life for gay, transgender, fa`afafine, fakaleiti and bisexual teens as part of Teen Faggots Come to Life.Amanaki Prescott-Faletau will present ‘S’he’; Isaac Ah kiong will perform ‘Michael’s World’; Raukawa Tuhura will offer ‘Takatapui’ and Darren Taniue’s piece is called ‘Coming Home’. “It’s about teenagers and want we went through,” Tanavusa says of the show.
“Our teen years. There’s a bit of love and a bit of loss. There’s a bit of bullying, sexuality, figuring out ourselves and who we are. All of that is in the show.”She hopes it inspires others, and raises awareness about what’s really happening for our teenagers, and how teachers and parents are responding to it. “Here it all is laid out – and laid out truthfully.”
The title is basically a dig at everyone who called the cast members faggots when they were teenagers, with the five performers saying ‘look at where we are now’, as Tanavusa explains: “We’ll be able to show off to everyone who has ever looked down on us, that ‘hey look, you tried to shut us down and ignore us, but we’re frickin’ talented, look what we’re doing’.” And talented she is, according to Mika, who utterly raves about Tanavasa’s work in helping get the whole show together too, picking her as a force for the future to keep a close eye on.It’s a safe bet as she sure is determined.
She’d love to take the show all around New Zealand, and “even better” the world. She loves writing and directing and is enjoying picking up producing skills. “I just want to make more shows, show off our talent, raise awareness and inspire.”The stunning 20-year-old has a powerful and fun message to mark Pride: “Be you, be yourself, have some pride, and just YOLO! You only live once! And why not live it as yourself?”