Meredith Talusan, Executive Editor of them.
Meredith is one of the pioneers to launch a platform for the next generation, them. them. housed under Conde Nast, is an avenue for LGBTQ+ Voices. It encourages the community to contribute experiences and journeys in our current society. This GLAAD Media Award winner shares tales from growing up in a different country to becoming a successful editor in New York City. Read about Meredith in today's spotlight below:
Meredith, can you describe your dreams and aspirations as a child growing up in the Philippines and how they really took shape when you moved to America?
I loved reading, but had no notion that I would be a writer and editor growing up. My first language isn’t English so it didn’t even occur to me that I could someday write in English well enough that people would want to read what I wrote. I was more of a math and science kid who loved astronomy and dreamed of being an astrophysicist, as soon as I realized that my low vision because of my albinism would probably disqualify me from becoming an astronaut.
My love of writing really developed when I came to the U.S. at 15. I became obsessed with mastering English and in the process, I also became deeply fascinated with American culture, accounting for it, writing about it. I ran out of science classes in my high school so I ended up going to high school and college at the same time starting at 16, but instead of the advanced science classes I was supposed to take, I ended up taking extra English and journalism classes instead.
Your gender identity is non-binary. Can you describe what this means to you personally?
It means that I don’t fully think of myself as belonging to either of the dominant genders. I feel more comfortable with womanhood and do continue to identify as a woman, but I inherently don’t believe in a world that divides its people into genders.
Your journey helped influence them. This platform is the first of its kind and the impact its had thus far is monumental! Why do you think it's so important for a platform like this to exist?
That’s both easy and tough to answer. I just feel like at heart, them. tries to express what it’s like to be queer in the world today, and the perspectives that queer people have now, and I hope people see the value of that mission for its own sake. I see a lot of publications try to be diverse or intersectional or attempt to demonstrate that they’re accounting for the fact that more than half of Gen Z kids identify as some sort of queer identity, and that the American population, especially among youth, is so much more diverse than so much of media, which continues to be predominantly white.
For us, them. just is because it reflects who we are. We don’t have to try to be diverse because we are diverse from top to bottom. Between the folks on our team we have pretty much every major race and LGBTQ+ identity represented, as well as disabled folks and immigrants. We even have a white gay man in our darling Phillip Picardi!
Congrats on winning the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Can you describe that surreal moment with us?
Funny enough, I wasn’t actually at the ceremony because I sometimes have evenings when I’m too intimidated by events. I have low vision because of my albinism and it can be both disorienting and overwhelming to go to events where you’re expected to see and greet people from afar, and it’s considered a social faux pas when you don’t recognize them. So I just started getting all of these wonderful text and Twitter messages from friends letting me know I won. So that was actually the most surreal part about it!
What is your best advice to those wanting to make strides toward equality, from grassroots movements all the way to big business decisions, but experience roadblocks and resistance?
It’s kind of a cliché, but listen, really listen. And part of listening is letting those of us in the margins speak, even when what we have to say isn’t necessarily something you want to hear. It’s really the only way we can make inroads towards equality.
What is next for you, Meredith?
I’m happily editing so that’s pretty much what’s in store for me in the near future, working on them. and various related projects. I’d love to curate a them. exhibition for instance; that would be a dream. Otherwise I still write for the site and for other places, such as the essay collection Not That Bad edited by Roxane Gay, which is coming out in May. I also have my own book project that I’m working on in my copious free time. *insert smiley face emoji here*
Interviewed by Emily