Joyce Ycasas was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in Willows, California, a small rural town north of Sacramento. Her parents are Chinese from the Philippines and raised Joyce, her brother, and her sister as Catholics. This upbringing conflicted with Joyce’s sexuality and made her start questioning her religion during high school. Joyce first came out as lesbian to her friends in college and finally to her parents around the age of 18. She studied English and art at Yale University, a place she describes as a liberal school with a lot of conservatives, and as a result, a place where she found her love for activism. Although Joyce was most politically active during her time at Yale, participating in a lot of protests and marches, it was not until she went to San Francisco that she became involved with political organizing. She worked for an HIV/AIDS agency serving Asian Pacific Islanders and also got involved with the API women’s community.
Joyce’s parents have accepted her and her partner Angie of 10 years, especially since seeing how happy Joyce is. The two still live in San Francisco with their community, now volunteering at APIQWTC and supporting the younger generation to define their own activism.
And I must have come home for break or something and been like, “Mom, I have something to tell you.” I think something really generic. “Mom, I have something to tell you. I’m attracted to women.” And she said, “I know, but we have to go to the dentist.