A young Texas activist who was once physically shamed by Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz has been named one of the 2022 Voices of the Year. Seventeen announced on Wednesday.
Olivia Julianna, a 20-year-old abortion advocate from Texas, has joined the likes of entertainer JoJo Siwa and Black Actress Marsai Martin compiling the list.
SeventeenThe awardees of were selected for their commitment to some of the country’s most pressing issues such as LGBTQ and reproductive rights, as well as racial and climate justice.
Seventeen highlighted Julianna’s work with Texas Democrats, including Beto O’Rourke, and her activism for abortion rights. Nevertheless, Julianna’s commitment apparently did not come without costs.
“I’ve lost a lot of people doing the work I do,” the activist said Seventeen. “It has negatively impacted many of the relationships I’ve had in my life. I have family members who essentially disowned me for being an abortion rights activist friends more.'”
Julianna, who serves as the director of policy and government affairs for the advocacy group Gen-Z for Change, continued, “Losing relationships has been really difficult. It’s been really hard for me to understand that when you speak the truth to power, and when you fight for what you believe in, some of the people you care about won’t be there.”
That summer, Julianna was finally able to raise more than $2.2 million for abortion funds after Gaetz tried to shame her on Twitter. She sent the Republican congressman a “thank you” when donations first hit $50,000 in July.
She’s kept that hostile relationship alive ever since, tagging Gaetz in a inflammatory Oct. 27 tweet.
“If @mattgaetz Ever ran for President, I will work with the Democratic nominee to triple whatever he muster,” Julianna wrote at the time. “I know it’s possible because I’ve done it before ❤️.”
Seventeen also quoted Julianna’s past activism in his Wednesday post.
Last year, anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life launched a website for whistleblowers to report those suspected of aiding and abetting the procedure. Julianna encouraged her TikTok followers to flood the site with fake tips to make it crash, and the site was eventually removed.
Julianna also spoke about being a young woman who is Latina, diabetic, disabled, plus size and queer. She said every aspect shapes her work because of the “wave of harassment” she endures.
“It happens every day, and it doesn’t just happen to ordinary people, it also happens to elected officials and politicians,” Julianna said Seventeen.
“Matt Gaetz isn’t the first prominent Republican to attack me. I was attacked by the Republican Party leader here in Texas and Jonathan Stickland, a former [state] House representative who called my sexuality ‘unnatural’ and told me to get out of the state,” she added.
She then vowed never to back down: “I will stand my ground because when I was a kid I didn’t see people like me speaking out. If I can be that for just one person, then I’ve done my job. You should never be ashamed of who you are.”
news week reached out to the Gaetz and Gen-Z for Change office for comment.
https://www.newsweek.com/abortion-activist-olivia-julianna-mocked-matt-gaetz-given-voice-year-award-1767200 Abortion activist mocked by Matt Gaetz wins Voice of the Year award