Sunday Spotlight is a series where we profile individuals in the Young Mormon Feminists community to hear their stories and get to know them a little better through Q&A or their personal narratives. This week we talked with Samantha Layco.
Who are you and what are you up to?
I am a 25 year old Filipino-American. My partner, Spencer, and I just moved to the Boston area 2 months ago. I am attempting to make it as a freelance theatre technician and Spencer as a freelance illustrator/comic book creator. Theatre is my passion. I am always interested in how people express themselves and choose to tell the highs and lows of the human experience. Aside from theatre, I love biking, blues dancing, and exploring the local food scene. Spencer and I are trying to figure out the next step in our careers/lives while trying to ride our bikes in as many places as possible.
What makes you a Mormon?
I joined the LDS church when I was 19, much to my, and my family’s, surprise. I was definitely not looking for a change in religion. I was raised Catholic and enjoyed it quite a bit. Oddly enough, I’ve stuck with it for the past couple of years, despite the doubts, short-comings, and late nights thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”
On the good days, I do believe in Jesus Christ and His atonement, and that living by His example can change one’s life for the better. On the more doubtful days, I hold onto the promises that I’ve made to create strong relationships with my family, friends, local community, and anyone else I am lucky enough to cross paths with in this lifetime, and to care for each and every one of them equally.
These are the basic thoughts that guide me through my everyday decisions and have been strengthened in my participation of the LDS faith.
What makes you a feminist?
When I was growing up I fought really hard to be seen as a tomboy. I hated the sight of anything pink. I would purposefully scuff up my knees in kindergarten so that I could be seen as tough. Dresses were a sign of weakness. As I got older, I was confused at my sudden fondness of cute skirts and my sudden need to shave my legs. I was conflicted by both my love for Nintendo and eyeliner. I didn’t know which direction I should take. Can a girl have both video games and a sparkly dress for homecoming?
My adolescent struggles are what drew me to feminism. I asked myself who set these standards for me. Why was I trying so hard not be seen as “girly”—as if it were a bad thing to be a girl? I believe that a person’s life choices should never be assumed because of the gender they choose to identify with. The human experience shouldn’t be limited to living it one way or another – it should be a spectrum of experiences with endless possibilities.
As a feminist, I stand with those who have been hurt and wronged for being a minority. I stand with those who have been told there is no other choice because of their sex, gender, race, class, etc. I hope by pushing society to look through a feminist lens we are able to be more compassionate with each other and right some of the injustices we have created for ourselves.
What makes you a Mormon feminist?
I am a Mormon feminist because I believe you can look at an organized religion critically and still find spiritual fulfillment in your personal practice. The LDS Church is an ever evolving organization. As feminism finds its way into more discussions in the Church, I am curious to see how church leaders’ and members’ views will change on the subject.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I will hopefully be bike touring in northern France with my family.
Any parting words for us?
Question everything. Explore your deepest and darkest doubts and frustrations. The answers you are looking for will eventually surface. Even if fear gets in the way, it will fade, and you will be left with something new and beautiful that you never understood before. If you need a break, go dancing or on a sweet bike ride.