With a wave of protests from Iranian women shocking the world, Persian musician Gia Woods recently sat down with Tracy E. Gilchrist of Advocate Today to discuss the importance of showing solidarity, as well as her experiences growing up as a queer Persian.
While Woods was born and raised in Los Angeles, she used to visit Iran with her family as a young girl. With ongoing protests in Iran over strict hijab enforcement, Woods is using her platform to voice her support.
"I'm so happy that finally there is a movement happening, and beyond Iran--it's happening all over the world," she says. "It's so refreshing to finally see us speak up."
Woods recalls visiting Iran and seeing all the older women covered up. When Woods asked her mother why "we have to cover ourselves," she responded: "That's the law."
"It's such an insane situation, and I've been feeling so sad and hurt for the women in Iran, going through this horrible, horrible regime for years and years," Woods continues. "Now, finally, something is happening, and I hope that this is actually something that changes things. There's no way that any human being can live like this."
Alongside the cruel treatment of women protesting the hijab enforcement, Woods is aware that the Iranian government also targets LGBTQ+ people, often beheading them. She shares she's increasingly grateful to be able to live her truth as a lesbian in LA.
Woods came out publicly in 2015 with her song Only a Girl. She reveals that she wasn't only coming out to her audience with the single, but also to her loved ones.
"Having that song out was such a release, because I was closeted growing up my entire life. It was my coming out not only to my family and friends, but the whole world," Woods shares. "So, that was a really big moment for me, and I feel like that's when I really started to own who I was, and be comfortable with who I was."
Woods' audience responded with positivity and acceptance, as she found many of her listeners could relate to her experiences. Because LGBTQ+ representation wasn't as widespread at the time of her coming out, the song's release became a "pivotal point" for her.
Woods explains: "That's all I ever hope to do, is find people that are feeling the same way, and [let them know] that they're not alone. That was my whole point in releasing [Only a Girl], I want to be honest and raw, and myself."
Woods says that her recent single, Lesbionic, is another lesbian power-anthem. Though less of her personal life is incorporated, she feels it serves as a love-letter to women everyone.
"I feel like I've heard a lot of songs that are desiring women from a straight man's point of view, so it was kind of nice for me to re-own that from a lesbian's perspective, and write a song that's just embracing women all over the world. That was my purpose with it: if straight males are gonna be doing that, how about a lesbian doing it? And that comes from a place of just love."
As for what's next, Woods shares that she will continue to attend protests in support of Iranian women. She urges everyone to show their solidarity, regardless of how many followers they have.
Woods also released her newest EP, Heartbreak County, Vol. 2, on October 28, encapsulating her experiences growing up as a queer Persian in Los Angeles.
"I'm still advocating for who I am and my sexuality," she says. "And hoping that anyone who discovers me can just relate."
Heartbreak County, Vol. 2 is available now on streaming and purchasing platforms. Catch Woods' full interview with The Advocate Channel below.