Bonsai uses She/her and He/Him pronouns and does not use Sir or Mister. Bonsai identifies as a human being, and as Queer Femme. Born and raised in a rural area in Porto Rico, survival was taught within the household as a major component of Bonsai’s life. Bonsai also experienced; violence in the home, “Growing up as a queer and femme identified kid caused a disconnection and trauma between my father and I,” Bonsai explained. These experiences shaped an inner commitment for Bonsai around healing justice work, trauma informed care, restorative justice, and transformative justice. Bonsai is an artist who looks at the world itself as a piece of art. Art was a way that Bonsai created community and “self-building work”. Bonsai found that expressive dance and movement was and avenue that allowed Bonsai to feel free, and liberated! Bonsai described that when they feel sad or frustrated, they use movement to move through themselves of those absolutions. Bonsai also uses movement with music, “I move based on the music of the world, and music I listen to,”. Bonsai says. They explained further that they are a “soldier of love” and their dream is to feel liberated within their physical and spiritual bodies.
Bonsai’s aspirations of liberation and movement evolved into YEPP (Youth Empowerment Performance Project), a Chicago-based non-profit that strives to create a brave environment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) youth experiencing homelessness to explore their history, investigate new ways to address their struggles and to celebrate their strengths through personal, leadership and community development programming that incorporate different art-expression forms” (https://www.wesayyepp.com/)..
Bonsai makes sure to take care of themself too; they enjoy cooking with their mom while talking to her over the phone, “My favorite dishes are mostly Puerto Rican foods.” Bonsai feels connected with their mom when getting recipes from her to create Bonsai’s favorite Puerto Rican dishes. “My inspirations come from a lot of different places, my mom, grandmother, and other ancestors of my family. I am also inspired by others; I think about how beginning performances of YEPP’s helped me learn to appreciate the work that I am doing and they give me a sense of liberation and appreciation to everyone involved in the organization”. YEPP has formed connections and spaces of healing through artistry, community building, and all the collaboration required in order to create YEPP’s performances, while ultimately holding a space to see young people heal and grow individually and collectively. We asked Bonsai, “If possible, how would you change the community?” Their response was, “I wouldn’t want to change people individually, I want to respect people where they are at, however I would change the inner harm and violence of anyone in the community and in the world.”