Angelica Mercado is an author, artist, and advocate living in Sioux Falls. She uses her talents to inspire others, and hopes that through art, she can create a lasting impact on her community.
What does it look like, for you, to celebrate Pride?
To me, Pride is a time where we celebrate love. It’s a time where we bring people together, regardless of their backgrounds, to move past what’s been separating us and work on a path forward together.
Pride is also a great time, in my opinion, to take a break from politics and have some fun. This can be a time where we celebrate what we’re proud of, honor what makes us different, and allow people to interpret their pride in their own way.
What has your experience been like, living as an out-LGBTQ person in South Dakota?
Coming out fairly young, in a rural Nebraska town, was not perfect. I decided to come out in my speech class, and was fairly well received by my peers. The broader community I grew up in, however, wasn’t welcoming toward LGBTQ people. Additionally, my family took a while to come around to understanding and accepting who I truly was.
This led me to move to where I am today. After landing in South Dakota, I made it a point to live out and proud, not knowing the political climate here. In a way, it was liberating to not be in the know. I wasn’t afraid of what people thought, which made it easier for me to find a community and a strong support system. I’m glad to have found support in Sioux Falls and hope to use my base to build up other people.
You recently got engaged! How did you and your partner meet?
Yeah! My partner and I met in college in Sioux City. We’ve been together for about four years and will be married in October in Sioux Falls.
How do you blend being art with activism?
In college, I studied political science and wanted to make it more creative, which led me to studying art and writing. When I was just a political science major, I didn’t feel like I was doing what I needed to do. After the 2016 election, I was inspired to use my abilities as an artist to impact communities. When watching the news or scrolling through social media, it was unsettling to see how the President would speak about immigrants and LGBTQ people.
The way he spoke about people made me want to take to writing and shift my art to send a message. I wanted to morph what I was already doing into something more meaningful. As an immigrant and LGBTQ person, what he says affects me personally, so I’ve got a lot at stake here.
Through writing and painting, I was able to bring important stories to the forefront of the conversation in Sioux Falls. I led a discussion at my art show at the Washington Pavilion and even published a book which talks about my journey and others who’ve inspired me but may have been afraid to share themselves. A percentage of each book sale goes toward helping impacted communities. It’s something I am truly proud of.
In the end, I have realized that change starts with a conversation. Whether you’re talking to someone for the first time, telling your family your truth, or speaking at your book launch, every story matters, and everyone’s voice deserves to be heard.
Do you think people should get more involved politically?
People should definitely get involved politically, in whatever capacity they can. Ofttimes, people get complacent. We could even refer to them as the “silent majority” which is a huge problem. When people are silent on an issue they should be weighing in on, everyone suffers. Communities need more people to listen, tune in, and show up.
I encourage people who are allies to various communities to get involved when it’s necessary. If people exercise their privilege in the proper way, they can make an impact. It’s almost the duty of privileged persons to act and to say something for those who cannot.
It’s time people got uncomfortable. We need to talk about issues that aren’t being mentioned in media on a regular basis, like LGBTQ people being turned away at the border, and people who are dying every day in border communities and beyond at the hands of this administration.