Activist Spotlight: Cristian Abbrancati ’17
Our first activist spotlight for April is Cristian Abbrancati, founder and content creator of the A-Z Campaign. The mission of the campaign is to “create a Brave Space[…] where people from different walks of life come together to share experiences and learn from each other. We are here to promote acceptance, love, and self expression.” Read on to learn more about Cristian and his work, as well as his advice for embracing self-care as a student activist.
Year of Graduation: Class of 2017
Major: Women and Gender Studies
Minor: Peace & Justice Studies and Non-Profit Studies
Career Aspirations: Being a leading force in the world of art and activism
The campaign is about accepting every single human being on the spectrum of gender. There is not one group that should be higher than the other should and I think my art shows that.
What does it mean to have a voice as an activist?
It means everything to me to have a voice as an advocate; it’s also a huge responsibility. You have to be conscious of what you say and how you say it because people who follow you see everything you post. If you mess up in anyway, it is embarrassing. What I mean by messing up is that if I am not inclusive in my activism, then I am not doing my job. The A-Z campaign is about everyone having a voice; if I do not include everyone, then I have failed.
How did you come up with the A-Z campaign?
Well the campaign came from a school project that I did with some of my friends. Once we presented our project and the semester ended, I realized that this campaign could be something great, so I stuck with it. I am so invested in this campaign now – it is my baby!
Your photography and film pieces will be featured in #PaceUEndRape’s Feminist ARTivism Gallery on April 20th. How does the mission of the A-Z campaign connect to the values of feminist ARTivism?
A feminist runs the campaign, so I would say this campaign has feminism written all over it. The campaign is about accepting every single human being on the spectrum of gender. There is not one group that should be higher than the other should and I think my art shows that. In the photo series that I’ve done for the campaign, every person has their face covered. The point of that is because it does not matter what a person looks, how they express themselves, or what is in between their legs, they are a human and they deserve respect! You could probably assume looking at some of the photos that “Oh that’s a guy!” or “That’s a woman!” Yeah, you could assume – but you have no idea how that person identifies, and why should you care and why do you care!? That is something we need to unpack individually and as a society.
LGBTQIA+ issues are put on a spectrum that gives them an identity, yet this can also enforce gender boundaries upon them. How can we be good allies to the LGBTQIA+ community without further confining them to a binary?
I will make my answer very simple. First, listen to them, what do they want? Second, let them live their wants as long as they are not hurting anyone else. Third, be by their side if others try to stop them, be an ally. It is all about agency; let them make choices for themselves because I bet nobody else would want decisions made for them too. In the words of Madonna, “Express Yourself.”
How do you see the A-Z campaign expanding at Pace in your next few years as an undergraduate student?
I hope everyone in the Pace community knows what the campaign is within the next year. I’m also graduating next year; so hopefully once I graduate, my campaign will be invited back to do events and collaborate with the school. I think that would be really dope.
The mission of the A-Z campaign is “to create a Brave Space.” Do you consider making “brave spaces” as a form of #everydayactivism?
I absolutely think that brave spaces should be a form of #everydayactivism, and in a way we’re always in a brave space. We share places with strangers everyday and we interact with people that we know nothing about. That is why it is so important to respect and listen to others because you never know where someone else is coming from, you do not know how bad or good their day, week, month, or year has been. Word of advice: you need to be kind to others no matter what.
That is why it is so important to respect and listen to others because you never know where someone else is coming from, you do not know how bad or good their day, week, month, or year has been.
As the founder and content creator for the A-Z campaign, how do you do “self-care”?
I really love that you asked me this question because self-care is so important. Honestly, the way I self-care is by not caring – as in, giving myself time to detach myself from the world and get into my own bubble where I do things for myself.
What I mean by that is that I’m constantly surrounding myself with scary and uncomfortable content that puts me in really bad moods and I can get into moments of burn out. So, I basically “stop caring” about everything. I get as much junk food as I can, get in my pajamas, and watch RuPaul’s drag race, mob wives, YouTube videos, you name it, and essentially not care about anything. I just keep my safe space away from the rest of the world – it is essentially isolation.