Visibility and Representation: Student Micayla Mirabella

Hailing from New Jersey, Micayla Mirabella is a senior majoring in Communications (Class of 2020). She recently won JCU’s Albert Walker Fuller Prize in Communication with her piece called “Visibility and Support: A Letter.”

Micayla Mirabella

Micayla Mirabella

What brought you to JCU?
My family is from Italy, which made me want to come to JCU and explore my Italian roots a bit more. My parents truly gave me the wings to fly and when the opportunity came to travel all the way to Rome at that age, I knew I had to take it. Here I am, four years later, about to graduate.

Congratulations on winning the Albert Walker Fuller Prize in Communication! What inspired you to write “Visibility and Support: A Letter”?
Thank you! I have been involved in the JCU Queer Alliance for most of my time here and through my involvement, I learned the importance of visibility for LGBTQ+ people. It matters on campus and off. My goal when I joined the Queer Alliance was to make sure that students are seen and heard on campus. I also wanted to make sure ALL students, queer or not, feel safe and comfortable on campus. When The Matthew, our campus newspaper, did an issue featuring our club, I knew I had to write something.

What’s the best way to respond to homophobic and transphobic slurs or comments?
In my opinion, the best way to respond to hatred is to educate. Ignorance due to a lack of education is not an excuse, but it may be an explanation in some cases. It is hard to cope with homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, etc. and unfortunately most LGBTQ+ people have dealt with it in some way or another. When I am faced with a situation like this, I often find myself having to bite my tongue. As hard as it might be, I usually just try to shake it off. My mom has told me since I was young, “The best revenge is living well” and I try to use this every day.

You’re a Communications major. How are your studies helping you bring more visibility to the LGBTQ+ community?
Choosing to study Communications was the best decision I could have made! Since freshman year, I have been interested in studying media representation of queer people. I am even creating my Senior Capstone project about LGBTQ+ representation in one of my favorite television shows. My major has given me a better understanding of how media works and how it affects society. Visibility and representation are so important to me because when I was younger, I did not see myself represented on screen. I think that if there were more good depictions of queer people on screen, it would normalize LGBTQ+ people in media and hopefully create more tolerance and understanding when it comes to queer issues. I actually created a documentary in one of my video production classes with Professor Kwame Phillips. It is called “Invisible” and it is one of my favorite projects I’ve made at JCU!

You did a semester-long internship in Florida for the Walt Disney Company. What’s a challenge that you encountered and how did you overcome it?
I participated in the Disney College Program in Orlando at Walt Disney World. I was an attractions cast member at Space Mountain. I have to admit, it was tough. I worked full time and was on my feet for up to 14 hours a day. It was challenging at first but very rewarding. I had wonderful coworkers who became some of my closest friends and that was worth all of the long, hard hours. I learned so much about customer service and how to work with people. I definitely got more out of it than I thought I would and I still use a lot of skills that I learned there in my everyday life.

You’re passionate about photography. What’s one tip that you would give to aspiring photographers?
I am no professional but I am very passionate! A tip I would give to aspiring photographers is to step out of your comfort zone. It is so easy to stick with what I am comfortable with, but some of my favorite work came as a result of me deciding to try something completely new. Photography is a medium that has seemingly endless possibilities so I am constantly attempting to find new things to try!

What are your plans for the future?
I am not sure what exactly my future holds but I am currently looking into graduate programs. I am excited to work on more personal projects, too. Deciding to attend JCU has definitely prepared me for whatever is to come next and I am so glad that I took that leap of faith four years ago!

Read Micayla’s piece “Visibility and Support: A Letter” in the April 2020 issue of The Matthew, JCU’s student-run newspaper (page 15).