Jess Llarinas

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Photograph of Jess Llarinas

Jess Llarinas is a Filipina and Mexican-American lesbian, identifying as a mixed race woman who has dated women of all different races. Growing up in San Francisco’s Mission District, she suffered from muscular dystrophy and previously required crutches and leg braces to walk. As a child, she also struggled with her sexuality and mixed race identity, and experienced physical and sexual abuse. Jess became a heavy drug user, selling drugs for many years, unfortunately leading to her incarceration. While in prison, Jess became determined and developed self-confidence. She wrote poems about depression and love, and began to work out daily, building both her mental and physical strength. This allowed her to overcome the obstacles presented by her muscular dystrophy and past drug use. Having lost 85 pounds, or 20% of her body weight, in a span of 2 years, Jess now works as a personal trainer. She also talks to college students as a motivational speaker, drawing from her experiences and identities.

So I don’t know, like, I didn’t know what because no one told me anything, so, I would just put Hispanic in even though it says only mark this box if you’re just Hispanic or whatever. And I was like, Well I’m not just Hispanic! And I would put Asian Pacific Islander. So I always used to mark that. But I just want to point that out. It was kind of a hard time trying to figure out my ethnicity too, like who am I, where did I come from.