Quinn Villagomez is shimazzzing. It's a word of her own invention: Shimmer, her alias, plus amazing, a quality the Fresh Fruit radio personality highlights in every queer artist of color she brings on her show.
Fresh Fruit is the longest running queer radio program in the country, since 1978. Villagomez co-hosts a show each second Thursday of the month. It was a long road for her — she graduated from broadcasting school at Brown Institute many years ago, and says she was unsuccessful in the industry until recently. But finally, at the age of 34, it's happening. She's hosting events, walking in fashion shows, meeting idols.
"I'm living a life knowing that dreams do come true." As a transgender woman of color, Villagomez has never taken that for granted. Even white transgender women have been dealt an easier hand in life, she says, pointing to the unified support Caitlyn Jenner recently received when she came out as a woman.
Though Villagomez says she's "proud of herself" a lot, it's also clear the bullying and discrimination she's suffered most of her life has taken a toll. She gets down on herself. At one point, she says, she considered suicide, even walking to a bridge, and then talking herself out it by the time she crossed.
By the age of three, Villagomez was playing with her mom's makeup and thinking about dresses. At five, she was putting on nail polish (without a means of taking it off before going to school) and by 10, she had decided: She was a girl, not a boy, and she was going to live her life according to that knowledge.
She kept it to herself until she graduated from high school, but for the eight years in between she saved money and bought dresses and jewelry and makeup and wore them in private. Her secret wasn't iron-clad, though — kids at school picked up on her femininity and called her "faggot" and "sissy."
But there was another thing people always noticed about her: her voice. And it is nice. It's clear, expressive, kind, perfect for radio. Plus, she says, "I just have this personality where I want to get to know people and hear their stories."
Now that she's out, proud, and living her dreams, she says she feels like a hero.
"After every show I think: 'Look what I just did!' I want to be inspiring. I want people to see that we can be fabulous as transgender women. Just be yourself. Be shimazzzing!"
Tune in to Fresh Fruit to hear Villagomez every second Thursday of the month, 7 to 8 p.m. on KFAI 90.3 FM.