Tegan and Sara released the music video for their song “Faint of Heart” last month. The song, from their 2016 album Love You To Death, is an 80’s inspired pop anthem about listening to your heart and not worrying what other people think. The music video, starring a group of young and inspiring LGBTQ people dressed as iconic figures in music history, is a beautiful hit of nostalgia, self-love and diversity.
One of those young and inspiring people is Eli Erlick. Erlick is a queer transgender youth activist, writer and public speaker. She is also the Co-Founder and Director of Trans Student Educational Resources and has an uncanny resemblance to the Quin sisters themselves. We had the opportunity to talk to Erlick about the trans activism work she does, working with Tegan and Sara, and what it’s like to be the long lost Quin sibling.
How did you get involved in the filming of the new Tegan and Sara video – Faint of Heart?
It all started with a shirt. A friend commented that the top looked like the one Tegan and Sara wore in the Sainthood album cover so my friend Landyn took a couple photos of me, combined them, and I posted it to social media. Devon Kirkpatrick, who Tegan and Sara had asked to be the director of the video, saw the post through our mutual friends and asked me to play one of the twins.
What was it like working with Tegan and Sara, two very important and influential people in the queer community?
They’re awesome! Sara showed us pictures of her cat. I showed her pictures of mine. It was a fun time. And most importantly, they listened to us and truly care about the community. They want this album to be about the LGBTQ+ community and they’re really doing a great job with it. Along with Faint of Heart, a song about self-love and community, BWU finally expresses to the mainstream what queer people have been saying for decades: marriage isn’t the answer; we need liberation.
What’s it like being the long lost Quin sibling? Do people often say you look like them?
It’s nice to know that I have more queer family than I previously thought! I’ve had quite a few friends comment that I look like them, especially when I’m wearing leather and denim. Apparently a lot of people were confused that I wasn’t actually Sara when they saw the video.
I’ve heard the filming of the video clip took place a day after the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. What was it like on set that day and did it change/enhance the meaning behind doing the video clip?
The set was tense. We were all shocked by what had just happened. But I think this makes the video that much more powerful. It was always a song about empowerment and it goes to show that we are a resilient community, willing to take action when faced with violence.
You are Co-Founder and Director of Trans Student Educational Resources. Can you tell us a bit more about it, and how it came about?
TSER is an organization dedicated to transforming the educational environment for transgender students as well as helping trans youth be effective leaders and creating media by and for us. It’s the only national organization entirely run by trans youth. I co-founded the organization when I was 16 after experiencing years of violence in school and realizing that it requires collective action to stop transphobia. You can learn more about TSER at www.transstudent.org.
After coming out at the age of eight, did you always have your sights set on becoming the activist you are today?
I always knew I wanted to be involved in my community. My parents actually met at a nuclear protest rally and were politically involved since the 1970’s so I’ve been taught that supporting others is the best thing one can do with their life since a young age. Even after being beaten, isolated, and pushed out of the classroom, I consider myself lucky. I was able to transition when I was thirteen and find community. By the time I was fifteen and things did not just “get better” I realized that my situation had to be made better through organizing and mobilizing young people like myself to get engaged in the movement.
Does educating others often educate yourself on queer and trans topics/issues?
Yes! Working with others is always a learning process. The past five years of being very involved in the queer and trans community has been an experience of constant education and growth.
What are some common misconceptions/misinformation society has about trans and queer people that you often find yourself educating others about?
One major misconception is that the goal of the transgender movement is equality. There is a huge distinction between equality and liberation that often gets ignored (sometimes by transgender people themselves). I recently wrote an article on Huffington Post about it.
If you could give one essential piece advice to a young trans, queer and/or questioning individual, what would it be?
Don’t give up! There’s nothing wrong with expressing yourself how you want to and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
To stay updated on Eli Erlick’s work, follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Also, be sure to check out Tegan and Sara’s Faint of Heart music video clip below!