Laura shares her thoughts on poetry and raises awareness about anti-ESEA hate and sexual violence
Laura Gainor is a full-time business analyst, but in her spare time she is a poet, activist and graphic designer. She founded The Guard (@theguardofficial), a social media account that raises awareness of sexual offences, covering information and news. This is still relevant in today’s world given the recent cases of sexual violence and murders of women. I was immediately inspired when I had the chance to connect with Laura. She reached out after seeing an article I wrote about an organization linked to East and Southeast Asian hate that my friends and I were founding. Somehow we were lucky to have him as part of the team! It is an honor for me to interview Laura as she continues to inspire and intrigue those around her with her endless talents, as well as her passion for making a difference where she can.
Besides, LauraThe poetry of showcases a melancholy vulnerability, experimenting with topics such as empowerment, trust and connection. You can follow his work via @thereallauramai on Instagram. His creativity in his graphic design allows his words to be presented in visually appealing ways, as well as when used for various causes (including The Guard and Voice ESEA). It is a pleasure to know more about Laura and how she channels her efforts to have an impact in her communities.
YW: Why did you found The Guard?
LG: Do you have many female friends who have not been sexually harassed? I do not know. Of course, the problem is not limited to women, and the LGBTQ+ community as well as many men are affected, but I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t been sexually harassed in some way. The Guard started in an entrepreneurship class. Funnily enough, I created a dummy “app” in response to this problem and my friend Simona and I tried to make it. The application part didn’t work, but we quickly realized that it was a chance to raise awareness in our community around the issue of sexual harassment.
YW: How do you think young people can have a direct impact on their own communities?
LG: We have a direct impact on our communities, whether we realize it or not. Every friend we have a conversation with, every article we read, and every step we take to be a better version of ourselves in our community makes a difference.
You don’t have to volunteer, you don’t have to create an Instagram page, you don’t even have to speak up if it makes you too uncomfortable; but if you care about a problem, it’s important to be educated about it. Whether you do it by reading a book, having a conversation, or watching a video from credible sources, I believe improving myself and challenging my beliefs and biases is what has caused the biggest change in my actions. . So, I would recommend anyone to start with themselves before trying to change anything on a large scale to ensure the information is credible, the care is genuine, and the affected communities benefit.
YW: You have worked with university groups to publicize ESEA. Can you explain your experiences of engaging groups that have limited exposure to these communities?
LG: Everyone I’ve spoken to cares. Everyone. People have little time each day, and until they are given the time or a strong, time-sensitive reason to take action or care more, problems can be pushed aside. . You can’t blame people for that, there’s a million things going on in a person’s life that we can’t see, and there’s a million problems in the world that we don’t have not yet exhibited. Sometimes it’s about choosing where to spend the most effort, and once you’ve learned something new, staying aware of it. I found that the students I worked with were not so aware of the ESEA community, but had an understanding of intersectionality. The students carried ideals like diversity, equality, and inclusion in their mindset, and because of that, they were able to engage with the brief and engage their friends in fun events.
YW: You write beautiful poetry. How are you inspired to write a play and what themes do you feel most drawn to?
LG: Wow thank you! Poetry is what I say when I feel like I can’t speak. I am very emotional and poetry helps me understand exactly how I feel and why. I am most inspired by the events that happen to me. For example, my house that burned down as a teenager, my relationship with my mother-in-law and my (failed) relationships!
YW: Favorite poet or author?
LG: Should I choose just one? I can not. I would say Amy Chua who wrote Political Tribes or Malcolm Gladwell who wrote a lot of books but my favorite is Outliers, this book is what made me think deeply about diversity and opportunity.
YW: You are part of Voice ESEA, tell us why you decided to join us.
LG: Payroll. I laugh! I saw Yinsey’s post in a LinkedIn group, I forgot exactly what she wrote, but I felt compelled to message her. I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I saw myself in her? Anyway, after an hour on the phone, I was convinced of the mission of the organization and I was convinced that Yinsey was a good person who had the same sincere compassion for diversity and inclusion as me. .
YW: That’s so sweet of you to say that! I am so moved by your determination to help the ESEA community, especially by taking time out of your busy schedule! Your career is all about marketing and engagement. What advice would you give to someone who wants to embark on such a career?
LG: Build real relationships with mentors in the field and ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in not knowing, but there is a danger in pretending to know. A lot of what I learned was on the job, but first you have to find a job, which is a lot harder than people make it out to be. I never applied for my job; I networked my way. I would recommend this approach to anyone looking to get started in this field (or any field for that matter).
YW: How does your cultural heritage shape you and the way you think today?
LG: The belief that we all deserve equal opportunity for love, success, and belonging shapes my current thinking and therefore my actions. I never felt like I fit in anywhere, but I always felt like I belonged, and that’s been with me my whole life. I was born in America in New Hampshire, one of the whitest states statistically. My mother is from Vietnam and came to America when she was 14, while my father is fourth generation Irish-American. My heritage makes me aware today. Like I said, I always felt like I belonged, but there were times when I felt ashamed of the things that made me different. I don’t want anyone to feel like that if I can help them.