Kimra Luna: "...when you're with those like-minded people, and you know that you're doing something to make the world better... you get hope automatically. It starts filling you up."
Leela Sinha in compelling conversation with Kimra Luna: abortion doula, professional ranter, and founder of Idaho Abortion Rights mutual aid. They talk about finding hope in community, taking individual action, strategies for regaining reproductive rights in the US, and the journey that led Kimra to take on the work of an abortion doula.
Transcript and Notes:
Links! Find Kimra on Instagram, Twitch, Twitter, and beyond. There are also links to Idaho Abortion Rights and other orgs mentioned in the conversation:
Idaho Abortion Rights: https://idahoabortionrights.com/
Kimra Luna website: https://kimraluna.com/.
Kimra Luna on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimraluna/.
Kimra Luna on Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/kimraluna_
Kimra Luna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KimraLuna
Plan C Pills: https://www.plancpills.org/
Las Libres: https://laslibres.org/
Act Up: https://actupny.com/
Recorded 24 April 2023.
Leela Sinha 0:00
Hi everyone, and welcome to Power Pivot. This is one of our special bonus episodes and I am so excited to have Kimra with us today. Kimra is an entrepreneur turned activist and that is the entire bio I got. So I am going to invite Kimra right now to give us a little more information.
Kimra Luna 0:17
Hi everyone who's listening. Thank you so much for having me on Leela. Yeah, I am an entrepreneur turned activist. I mean, I've kind of always been an entrepreneur, like my whole life, but I've also been an activist my whole life too. So always have that driven spirit, I guess, so to speak. But I mostly work very heavily in the reproductive justice space. I'm a certified abortion doula. And I support people who live in states with restricted access to get access to abortion care and all of the support that they need. And then I also do a political commentary on Twitch. That's my main platform where I create content currently, and I live stream about pretty much all things social justice intersectionality we talk a lot of anti racism stuff. And of course, we could talk about reproductive justice and reproductive rights as well.
Leela Sinha 1:19
So you didn't even have a bio written I usually ask my guests for like a bio and a headshot you didn't even have a bio. How did how did you get this far in without a bio?
Kimra Luna 1:29
Yeah, so about a year ago in the state of Idaho. The governor, Brad Little, signed a six week abortion ban, banning all abortions after six weeks. And one of my friends Bessie hit me up and said, "I want to do a protest." I said "damn straight we're doing a protest." So that is kind of what puts the collective that I run which is a mutual aid called Idaho Abortion Rights together. That was kind of like the initial like launching point for it. I had already wanted to become an abortion doula I actually had already like, you know, took my name on like the Instagram of like an abortion doula like page, but I hadn't been like active in that because my, my ex boyfriend. He was my boyfriend at the time, he was very much like, against me doing that type of work. He was like, Oh, no one's gonna pay you all that sort of stuff. And so I didn't end up like going with it at the time. And then kind of things just kind of fell into my lap I guess so to speak of like, it was just the right timing for everything and I am- it's a lot of work. But it's- I'm very grateful that I have the skills that I have from owning previous businesses that have been able to cross over into my activism work and really been able to make it so that we can serve a large amount of people.
Leela Sinha 2:59
So what does an abortion doula do?
Kimra Luna 3:02
It depends on where they are. Myself, for instance, because I help people that are in restricted states, meaning they might be having an abortion illegally using utilizing abortion pills, which is most typically the case and I support them through secure texting and calling and video apps. Sometimes it's supporting them and just making the decision whether you know, to have an abortion or not, some people are conflicted on that decision. And so counseling them in that way. Other times, it's more helping them get the literal access, so like practical support, helping them book their appointments, helping them find the funds in order to cover the cost of the abortion. And then quite a lot of the times I'm helping them throughout the whole process. So they're texting me like hey, like I just took my first medication like what can I expect from this. And I'm letting them know like, here are the symptoms, you know, go get an ibuprofen, you know, like, like etc and like letting them know like the other things that they might need during their abortion. And then helping them with aftercare as well. So aftercare can look anything from like giving them recommendations to the best hotlines you know, if they're someone who has a practicing faith, there's different hotlines for people depending on their practicing faith that they may want to talk about. If someone may be grieving or or needing other mental health support, I send them to those resources depending on you know where they live. And so, supporting them you know afterwards as well. So if they need some phone calls, if they need to just text if they need to video chat with me and cry, you know, anything that they need is what I do to support them. Different abortion doulas in other states where abortion is legal, there's a few different ways abortion doulas help. Some actually volunteer and support people at the actual clinic who are having procedural abortions, and they give emotional support or give them information, help them feel comforted. This is also pretty common say if someone is a non-English speaker to kind of help guide them through the process. Oftentimes there's abortion doulas that speak multiple languages to help them through. And usually in those sorts of situations, they don't help a person with aftercare. So sometimes there's different abortion doulas in the communities that will help people you know, get aftercare, get resources, and things of that nature. And some abortion doulas actually go to people's homes. So someone may be doing a self managed abortion with abortion pills that they maybe ordered online, or got through other distributors. And sometimes an abortion doula is actually at the house with you while you're going through your abortion. Currently, I don't do that, in the home as of right now, since most of the people I help are in restricted states. And so I'm really not able to do that. But there's nothing illegal about texting and being on the phone with people, right? So, you know, so I'm able to get around that.
Leela Sinha 6:00
That's awesome. That's awesome. So So did you decide to become an abortion doula because, kind of because of, of the political situation? Or was this something that you'd been thinking about for a while and then the political situation kind of kicked your butt or...?
Kimra Luna 6:17
I would say I guess a little bit of both. So when I had my abortion in what was it two thousand and- I can't remember the year but it's about four or five years ago. When I had my abortion I was living in in New York City. And I was able to get you know relatively easy access you know, they have a lot of you know, Planned Parenthoods around you just like make an appointment go in and tada, you know, you're kind of good to go. Like, it's it's relatively easy to do that there. But I really needed the emotional support at the time and I had searched up abortion doula, because I was like, it's not even a thing.? And I did find one woman in New York City who was an abortion doula, and you can actually pay her to help support you. But she was like, completely booked up doing birth doula stuff, so. So I wasn't able to, you know, find an abortion doula. However, one of my really good friends was able to support me, one of my other friends let me like, do the whole process at her apartment and everything. So I was really lucky, I got to have some support, I have three kids. And so I was kind of like, I didn't know what the abortion was gonna be like, they you know, they give you a pill at the clinic, and then they give you more pills to take at home. And I'm like, I don't know how bad this is gonna be. I don't want to scare my kids. Right? So I was pretty lucky on being able to, you know, have a nanny who stayed with my kids and stuff. And so financially, I was able to get some of that support I needed, but obviously, not everybody is like that. And I was just like, wow, this is really, like sad that there aren't people around that can help people through this process. Like a lot of people have abortions and, and there's nobody really helping with the emotional support. And, and the studies show that around 10% of people, you know, struggle with, like grieving and like shame afterwards. I mean, we have a lot of shame in our society about abortion in general, especially if people were raised religious. And there's just not a lot of that extra support. And so, you know, I have been trauma certified as- because as a business coach for so many years, and I ended up becoming trauma certified, because, you know, most of my clients have experienced a lot of trauma, I needed to make sure I knew how to support them. And so going through that myself, I was just like, What the heck, this is like, how is there not more, like emotional support, more community support, right? And that, you know, I ended up moving to Idaho. And, and when I first moved to Idaho, I ended up going to a retreat in California. So I never been on like a spiritual retreat. I I'm very cautious about who I connect with spiritually, like, I'm like, maybe overly cautious, but I'm kind of I'm just weird about it. Because I'm like, I don't want to be part of a cult or something. Right. So I'm a little bit weird about it. And so one of my friends was hosting a retreat, and I went to California, and they had a tobacco ceremony. And during this tobacco ceremony, of course, I was vomiting. That happens a lot. But I was hallucinating. And I was like, What is going on? And I was just like, laying on the ground. And then all of these grandmothers surrounded me, and they weren't my grandmothers. They were everybody's- like the whole world's grandmothers, right? They were speaking multiple languages. And what they told me was that my purpose on the planet was to heal people's wombs. That was my purpose. So I'm like, Well, now I know my purpose this is great. You know, so once I woke up,
Leela Sinha 9:34
It's always nice when like the universe makes it super clear, like here, you know, sort of Vanna White style here. Here's your sign. It's in neon.
Kimra Luna 9:43
It was very blatant. I was like, Okay, great. And I told my friend who was running the retreat, you know, what it what had happened. And, and I told her, I said, Well, I had been toying around with this idea of becoming an abortion doula, like I'd always been like, I'm a birth junkie. Okay, like, if there was a zombie apocalypse I'd be the one delivering babies. Okay like I am super big birth junkie like I've read all the books, done the natural birth like I mean I'm like all about that stuff. And I had always wanted to become a birth doula I said I used to tell people said yeah, once my kids get older, and I have more time I definitely want to train to become a birth doula. But once I went through the abortion myself and like, there wasn't that extra support, I was like, Whoa, maybe abortion doula is a thing. And I had told my friend I said, you know, I've been already toying around with that idea. And then the universe gives me this big sign. That was like, real, real loud, like very blatant type of sign. And so she's like, oh, we'll open up your phone, make an Instagram account now with like an abortion doula name, which I did. And she was like, yeah, like, just just go for it. Right. And then I went back to Idaho, and my boyfriend at the time, who was very abusive and huge jerk. He was like, no, no one would want that. Like, that's stupid. No one can afford to pay you for that. And was just as huge naysayer of it.Leela Sinha:
so interesting that there's a reason he's an ex...Kimra Luna:
Yeah. Yeah. Which is reason, one of the reasons he's an ex. But yeah, like he was very against me wanting to help people get access. So after him and I broke up, I was just like, well, I'm helping people anyway. And to me, it wasn't about the money, because I don't get paid to be an abortion doula. All these people asking me for help don't have money, right? I don't get paid. I just do this as a community service to just serve my community, and to ensure that people are getting the help that they need. People could donate money to me, I guess, but nobody has, you know, because they, they, they- if they need an abortion, they can't afford to get to pay for extra help. So. So it is something where a lot of abortion doulas actually aren't paid. A lot of them are volunteer type of roles in the community. And I hope that over time, there'll be a lot more people like me around the country everywhere, you know, every country, you know, where people can support people to get the help and the resources that they need. Whether it's before, during and after an abortion.Leela Sinha:
Yeah, that I mean, I would love to see us live in a world where everybody can just be more informed. Like where- just everybody knows how this works. Everybody knows what to expect, where it's just part of- it's like in the water, in the air. So imagine a world that has the kind of justice that you want, for reproductive access.Kimra Luna:
Mm hmm.Kimra Luna:
The world that I see would be not only people like getting access to the care they need, but being able to make really strong decisions on whether they would like to have kids. Having a healthy and safe environment for these kids to be raised. Because reproductive justice goes farther than just access, right? A lot of people make the decision to have an abortion because of funds, they just can't afford to live. And, you know, like, we live in a society where the economy is in this space where people have to have multiple jobs just to pay rent. And so reproductive justice, yeah, I absolutely I want birth control to be free. I want every pharmacy to have abortion pills. I want every OBGYN to legally be able to perform abortion care. You know, I want it to be completely legal across the whole country where we have reproductive rights and an access to it.Leela Sinha:
That was true for just a minute....Kimra Luna:
Yeah, like clinics everywhere where people can actually get to clinics. People shouldn't have to go two hours drive to get to a clinic, they should be able to get this access anywhere. And so that would be the end all dream would be incredible. But a lot of this goes into being able to feed our families, being able to house our families Being able to have our kids in a safe school where they're not being harmed or have potential threats of gun violence. Like being able to have it so that we're not concerned about our kids being harmed by others. You know, where there's like real justice system in in place that can actually hold people accountable who are harming children, families. Where they take domestic violence seriously. You know, that's something that really ties together in the abortion space, because a lot of people have abortions because they actually don't want their partner to harm the baby. And 25% of pregnant people do get physically harmed during their pregnancy. Right. That's a very high number. And a lot of people-Leela Sinha:
That's an extraordinarily high number.Kimra Luna:
Yeah, and a lot of politicians don't want to talk about this. Like, my first job was at a domestic violence center. And every day there were women coming in with bruises on them, who were visibly pregnant. You know, and I was like, 18 years old, like... what? Like it is so astronomically high and a lot of people don't want to talk about that but a lot of people choose to have an abortion because they don't want the baby to be harmed. Right that's a real reality.Leela Sinha:
It is. So let's pivot a little. You kind of brushed across the economic access, financial security piece of this but it's such a huge part of it right? Financial security, access to money is so tied into independence in our culture so... let's start with this. What do you do for money because you're not doing abortion doula stuff for money.Kimra Luna:
Um, so currently my Twitch stream is my is one of my ways that I'm making money. My other way is that I still have a few business coaching clients. So I've pretty much left the business coaching and marketing industry but I have a few clients so that helps cover the bills for the most part. But Twitch will probably be my primary way. I do have... my podcast is gonna relaunch. So hopefully getting like some like sponsorships and things like that. I'm already sponsored by like a few like sex toy companies and things of that nature. So hopefully getting some more sponsorships and you know, that's- and my YouTube channel as well. I do make some money from from when I post videos and stuff there, so kind of just little trinkles of money coming in. But I don't really sell any like, you know, products or courses or programs right now. I'm kind of just starting anew, I guess. I'm almost like starting fresh. And I want to be able to create something where I still have enough time to serve people in the abortion doula capacity, you know. So if I'm, you know, working like 25 hours a week on something and able to make a full time living doing that, and then on the side be able to continue doing the abortion doula work. So, so yeah, so we'll see what happens. My financially right now I'm, I'm, I'm making it by right now, which is much different than what used to be, you know. I used to have a multiple seven figure company. I went through a divorce, like, I had to let go of my whole team. I mean, it was a whole, it was a whole fiasco. So I ended up losing my my company. But, you know, that's led to just a different path, you know, like, I don't really, you know, I don't really I'm like, Oh, my gosh, like, I regret this or regret that or whatever, you know, I really am more focused on like, where my future is, and how I can continue making this world a better place for for everybody and for my children's future as well, you know, like, like, they're going to be here on this planet. And so, yeah, economics is like, it's kind of hard when you're an activist, I think a lot of people, almost see activists as martyrs in a way, which is very different than say, like, inside of different cultures, where they kind of take care of the people who are activists. andLeela Sinha:
Our culture doesn't take care of anybody. Our culture broadly, like there are some cultures that do. But broadly, like the dominant North American culture does not.Kimra Luna:
Yeah, like in places like South America, people who do the work that I'm doing, they have their rent paid, they have a home, their food is covered, like their bills are covered by their communities. And so we don't really- activists in the United States don't really get that type of support. And so it's, it's a little bit different. So we'll see what we'll see what happens, I plan on doing a call out to my community specifically to be like, Yo, can y'all fund me, you know, like, "fund Kimra and the stuff Kimra's doing sort of thing." I just haven't done that yet. But we'll see what happens with that. But, you know, the main way people can support me is, you know, donating $5 a month to me on Twitch. That's like the primary way that people you know, can help support me while I do my Twitch streams, talking about all the things you know, politics and all the things intersectionality on thereLeela Sinha:
So what do you think is available to most people? Let's say the people that that you're working with the in the abortion doula space, in terms of building their financial stability or their economic access, like what- because some of us have communities that will help to fund our work. But a lot of us do not have communities, often because nobody that we know has any money.Kimra Luna:
And so so the question is like, how do we? Yes, of course, in an ideal world, it would just people would just do that. But meanwhile, we all have to eat and pay rent. So. So what do you think is available? I know you used to be a business coach. SoKimra Luna:
yeah, well, I think a big part of it is, is if we have enough people who are abortion doulas, it will spread the work. And so if there's hundreds of abortion doulas in like one county, some of them might only be supporting one person a week or less, right? and, and be able to have that time so they can still you know, work, you know a full time job and then be able to, you know, support a person on the side. So the more people who are trained and understand the abortion doula work, which a lot of the information can be found online. I mean, I took a certification but a lot of people who are helping others did not take certifications, they just educated themselves through everything they found online. You know, the more people that we have, the better it is, like I tell people, like the knowledge is really what's power. And I host abortion pill workshops and train people like how to support, say, a friend that's going through it. So it really doesn't have to be like, Oh, you're an abortion doula. And that's like your gig. It can be like, Oh, I know a lot about abortions. And if my friend needs help, I can help them. Really and I call that like abortion homies. Like, I have like a whole series on my YouTube channel that I'm creating. That's like abortion homies. And we have these like little homies that we had illustrated, because I was all about the little homies when I was like a kid. And, and yeah, so it's, it's more about, you know, making sure that communities understand things. So then that way, they can help their friend, they can help their neighbor through the abortion process. And that's not all put on just the few people that are like the trained or certified people. Because abortion pills are safe. All you have to do you know the few things to watch out for in case someone needs to go to the hospital. But it's extremely rare anybody ever needs to go to the hospital. So a lot of people can actually help. And so the more that knowledge is spread-like there's people who have gone through my abortion pill training, who have helped already four or five friends goes through an abortion. Like they didn't need to be certified or, or anything like that. They were able to help them order the pills online and be able to give them information and support them through it. And everybody's like, wow, I was like, really grateful for that, you know. And so I'm like, the more people that just have knowledge about abortion pills, and the whole process, like, the better. Because that's how most people are getting access now, most people aren't going to clinics. Because clinics are so far away from most people, like especially when half of the country is, you know, illegal to have an abortion, that's too far away to go to clinics. So most people are getting them with abortion pills. So the more people are educated on that, like there's, there's websites that have free courses, like Plan C pills.org, has free courses on there, like free training, you can go and watch all the content, learn everything that you can about abortion pills. And then that way, you're able to help a friend do that.Leela Sinha:
So what I hear you saying is that it's mostly about community education and about almost de professionalizing the work and spreading it out.Kimra Luna:
Yeah, and anybody that like because a lot of my friends are birth doulas, and several of them had been trained in doing abortion doula work, but it was mostly for the clinical setting. Like for people that were getting the procedural abortion, a lot of them didn't learn anything about the abortion pills. And so they have came to me where I'm actually hosting workshops for people who are actual medical professionals, when I'm not a medical professional. Because I happen to have learned a lot of information that they didn't learn in their trainings, which I find really funny because that same thing happened to me when I was teaching business and marketing, like people who had business degrees would come and join my program. And I'm like, I don't even have a degree in business, but Okay. So it's kind of like going back to the days of like, the lay midwife, you know, where, you know, it used to be where they didn't even go to nursing school. It was just information that was passed down, you know, like, like, even like breast and like chest feeding that was like information that was passed down. Right and and this is kind of becoming that again, and it kind of has to because we can't really- like like in the red states, there's no way that they're going to be like yeah, you're a board certified abortion doula, like that's just not going to happen in any of those states. Right? Like, you know what I mean, like you could you could be a board certified birth doula and a lot of states you you like, that's an actual profession, you know, like, you can become, you know, like a midwife, an actual profession. But you know, but it's like, you can't become a board certified abortion doula. It's like not a thing, at least not as of right now. Maybe in the future crossing fingers. That would be amazing. Because then like clinics could like pay you to help people through the whole thing. You know, so crossing fingers, maybe one day, but as of right now, it kind of has to be almost like the lay midwife type of situation where it's information that's just passed down to others and there are collectives like in in Mexico, last Libres. They've been a collective that's been around for over 20 years that's been supporting people with abortion pill access, and they were doing all of that underground. And there's thousands of people that were helping others throughout Mexico, over the years. And that organization, once things became legal, they began connecting with people in the United States and began training people in the United States because it became legal in Mexico, but then it became illegal in America. And so they're a really amazing collective that's really supported the reproductive justice movement in the United States, and kind of helping create these underground networks of people who distribute abortion pills, and who are abortion doulas, helping people through the process.Leela Sinha:
So I know that your focus is doing this work. Do you think that we just need to kind of give up legislatively? Or do you think we also need to be pushing on the political front,Kimra Luna:
we do need to be pushing on the political front, primarily because of the people that have health complications during pregnancy. There's a lot of lawsuits that are starting up from- particularly in Texas, that are starting up from from from women who were pregnant, and were denied care, that was life saving care. And some of them were literally on their deathbed having sepsis before they were able to get treatment. And so we still need to fight legislatively, we still need to fight politically, in order to get our rights protected. Because what will end up happening is people like myself will end up in jail, you know. They'll just be like, Oh, you're you're aiding and abetting, you're helping people, boom, you're in jail. In Texas, they're already trying to ban websites, like my Idaho abortion rights website, they're already trying to ban websites that give people information about abortion pills. They're trying to take away even our First Amendment rights, our freedom of speech, even. So this is going way deeper than just that. They're also doing a lot more digital surveillance of people that to do abortion activism type of work as well. The FBI actually asked the government, the government for half a million dollars to be putting more surveillance on people that are abortion activists. So we still do need to be doing political and legislative pushback, you know, but we also need to be taking care of our own communities as well. So doing that mutual aid, supporting each other, educating each other, which is a huge, huge one, educating, making sure all of the teenagers know how to prevent pregnancy. That's a massive one, especially for the state of Idaho, because they made an anti abortion "trafficking" is what they've called it. Abortion trafficking. They have decided that if a teenager goes across state lines to have an abortion, and they don't have parental permission, anybody who helps them is technically a human trafficker, and can go to prison for 15 years. So they're, you know, so making sure teenagers prevent pregnancy is an absolutely huge one. But that obviously isn't going to prevent things like if someone is raped or incest, you know, so there's a lot of these things on why we still need to be fighting legislatively. Yes, we have the underground networks in place, there's a ton of people like myself, we support people in getting access. There's a ton of nonprofits that fly people across the country, you know, there's a ton of that stuff that's building up. And, and honestly, I feel that these bans made all of these support systems stronger. They made the community have to step up, there was no other option. And so because the communities have stood up and said, We're making sure people get access, no matter what, they're putting such amazing systems in place that are still going to be there, after we get our rights back. So when we get our reproductive rights back, we're still going to have these super strong communities that are going to continue to support each other continue to take care of each other. And even more people will be able to get safe legal access, and not have to have a legal risk, you know. Like, no one should have to take a legal risk just to have a medical procedure, period,Leela Sinha:
it should never be illegal to get the health care that you need. Absolutely.Kimra Luna:
Yeah, never. It just shouldn't be illegal. Doesn't matter what the topic is, it shouldn't be illegal to get the health care that you need.Leela Sinha:
So where do you think the most effective- what I'm picturing is like a soft spot? Right? Where do you think the most effective points of address are right now in the political landscape? If somebody's like, Okay, I can't do abortion doula work, for whatever reason, but I can be politically active. What should they be doing?Kimra Luna:
Well, if they're, if they're that passionate, they should be running. I tell people all the time if you're really passionate for social justice, run. If you can, you know, it's definitely- there's a lot of places where we need more people to run. There's rural areas where there is nobody running against people who are extremists, which is something that happened in Idaho, with this guy named Scott Herndon. He is a very radical extremist. Like his first day in office he wanted to remove the exceptions for rape and incest from the abortion bans. His first day in office-Leela Sinha:
-in office for what? What was his position?Kimra Luna:
He became a state senator, and he had nobody who ran against him. So we need to run.Leela Sinha:
Let me sidetrack you a little bit here, because this is one of the conversations that I've had over and over. For folks who have been listening to me for a long time. You all know that I have lived in both very rural and very urban places. I've lived in Chicago, I've lived in a town of less than a thousand people in Maine, like back and forth across that line. So. So I frequently have conversations with people in urban areas, like when I was living in the Bay Area, I would say to people, if you want to change people's minds, you gotta go become their neighbors. You got to move to one of those places and you got to like, borrow cups of sugar and share your snowblower and, like push someone out of a ditch, carry a rope and carry tow rope in your pickup truck. And that's how you start to change change attitudes. Because I was in Maine when when equal marriage passed in Maine before it passed nationally. And it was it was entirely based on one on one relationships. Those deep, like small town, you know, you see a car drive by and it looks like a generic car. It's not like a stand out car. It's like, you know, the maroon red 1997 Subaru wagon that everybody's got. But you know, that that's Joanie. And Joanie is on her way to pick up her kid. Like that size town.Kimra Luna:
And the horror and shock and disgust and resistance that I encounter when I say that to people in cities, especially liberal cities, is astonishing to me. I mean, it's real, but it's astonishing. I say, okay, so take 20 of your friends, don't go by yourself, but like, take 20 of your friends, if you've got privilege, if it's safe for you to do that, and go move somewhere. That you can make a difference, that you you can- like you can't complain about how they're voting in Iowa, if you're not in Iowa, like being in community with people in Iowa.Kimra Luna:
And but obviously, that's how you become positioned to run in a small town where there's nobody opposing a terrible state senator. So, can you talk a little bit about living in Idaho?Kimra Luna:
Yeah, so I'm a born and raised Idahoan. Born in Nampa. I'm currently now in Washington due to legal reasons. That's a whole other story. But I currently live in Washington, but I'm born and raised in Idaho. My grandma worked in the fields and retired at a potato factory. My grandpa was a janitor for the Nampa school district for over 35 years. Come from, you know, working class. My whole family is leftist. You know, my, my grandpa is Black, my stepdad's Japanese. One half of my family is Mexican and the other -you know. So we're very mixed. And so my family, I got pretty lucky by kind of being raised more with leftist ideologies, you know, and which I think was good, even though like, my town was mostly like a red town. You know, like, there was a lot of Mormon people in our town, a lot of heavy religious influence in our town. You know, like, they'd be like, trying to pray at school lunch, and I'm like, you're not allowed to do that, you know. Like, I'd be like, "get outta here teacher." You know, I was that kid. They didn't like me. I was the vice president of my school, like, I was like, unh-hn,like, I mean, I've always been about "I'm making the school better," you know, like, I'm that person. And anyways, like, you know, I come from a small town and, and being raised in a place like that, like, the, the school board elections matter. You know, like, like, it really does. Because, like, if you're voting people onto the school board, and those people hate gay kids, that makes a huge difference on how gay kids are going to experience school, you know. And so the small elections really do matter. And I get a little bit frustrated with you know, like a lot of these like baby anarchists who are like, "uwww, well we don't vote" like, all this sort of stuff. And I'm just like, you do know that they're rapidly banning books from schools, right? Like, you need to vote in the school board election. I don't care if you don't have kids or not. My kids have been homeschooled their whole lives, and I still vote in the school board elections. Right.Leela Sinha:
Of course we need to vote.Kimra Luna:
Like, I want to make sure the right people are in there. You know what I mean? These kids are our future, you know. And so a lot of times people they don't think that, you know, those small elections matter they only vote for like the President or whatever, they really don't really vote for the smaller elections that are in their local communities. Or even know how to. I mean, honestly, some people don't even know how to they haven't even done that much research. And then they're complaining like, Oh, my town sucks. Oh, they banned a bunch of books. Oh, now they're banning drag shows. Like all this and I'm just like, "Y'all didn't vote?" Like, you know what I mean, like,Leela Sinha:
Who's 'they' and how did 'they' get that power?Kimra Luna:
Yeah, yeah, they those people got power somehow. Whether it was going by door knocking like and there's a lot of ways that we can help legislators in red states- like you can door knock. They will pay you to door knock. You can make Like seventeen dollars an hour going door knocking, promoting a politician that actually stands on principles that that you align with. Like people can actually do that. And a lot of people don't know that they can. They can work on campaigns. Like- I was like if Bernie Sanders is running, I'm volunteering to work on his campaign. You know, like, because I love Bernie, you know, like, I voted for Bernie every time. So I never voted for Hillary. I didn't vote for Biden, I wrote Bernie's name in there.... But like, you know, like, I like I tell people all the time, I say, I am very much like, I don't like the system of the of our "democratic" system, which I don't even really think it's democratic, because basically all of the corporations pretty pretty much own all the politicians. So I guess it really isn't technically, for the people. It's for the corporations. But I don't like the system, either. I hate it. I was reading anarchist, anti capitalist zines when I was like, 14 years old, right? Like, I don't like any of this stuff. However, I know the game that we're in, and I'm not stupid enough to act like I'm not a player in this game. I am a player in this game. I'm born and raised in Idaho. I'm a player in the game. And I'm here, and I'm gonna make sure I play the game to the best of my ability, right? And so and so like I said, I get frustrated because there's all these like anti voters like "oh, voting doesn't even matter." And they're like- there's like this thread that I'm in that's like a local Idaho thread. And all these people are so like, against voting, right? And then, but then when they were trying to pass the bills there for, for removing gender affirming care for minors, they're all like, "oh, call the governor call the governor's office." I said, "Okay, so you care about calling the governor's office now, but you didn't care about voting last year." I'm like, make it make sense. I was like... those two things aren't connected in my brain.Leela Sinha:
You could have had a different governor.Kimra Luna:
I was so confused. Like, I literally had like, the most confused face. I'm like, so you're calling the governor and leaving him voicemails now, but you didn't vote? Like I'm like, I'm just confused. But, you know, like some people don't want to. Right? That's obviously their right to not vote. I know people who don't vote. I think it's weird. But, you know, because I'm like, I'm pretty sure my ancestors fought for this to be able to vote, but you know, whatever. And I just feel like a lot of people they they get maybe just so like, disheartened that they haven't seen enough progress, or they expect progress to be really rapid. When our democratic process is slow, kind of like how a legal system is slow. Like it takes time. Like, it's not something that like, oh my gosh, just a miracle happens overnight, you know, it, like the process hasn't worked that way, you know, like, like. Black people didn't get rights just by snapping their fingers. You know, like, it took time. It was like, years and years before they got the right to vote. You know what I mean? Like, it was years, years before the women got the right to vote. You know, like, like, things take time, you know, years and years before you know, gay marriage was legalized, right? Like, doesn't happen overnight.Leela Sinha:
Okay, and let's talk about like, how much strategy is involved in this conservative movement that's taking over so many states right now. Like that is, that was fifty years in the making? It's a marriage of the Republican Party and the Southern Baptist Convention, like it is. It is not an overnight anything. This has been my entire lifetime. I'm about to turn 48. This is my entire lifetime, people have been working on this and planning it and diligently putting stones and stepping stones in place so that this could happen. And the left has not been keeping up.Kimra Luna:
No, absolutely not.Leela Sinha:
And we cannot afford- my opinion- We cannot afford to not participate in the system just because we don't like it.Kimra Luna:
Yeah, yeah, just because you don't like something doesn't mean you just automatically- like I mean, I didn't like public school, I hated it. But I still had to go to school because I need to get my diploma. You know, like, sometimes you just have to play the game, you know, like even if it's even if the game sucks, you still gotta play it. And so it is definitely an interesting thing that I see a lot and especially it's more like in like, you know, anarchist type of like circles which I tend to be around because I'm you know, a punk person. So you know, like, Itend to be around and I'm always just like, okay, just roll my eyes. I'm like, whatever, you know. But yeah, we need to be participating and like I said even in the smaller elections, like the like I said, school board elections are so massive right now because they're trying to ban all the books. I said, if you look at how fascism like started in Germany, they started off banning the books and harassing all the teachers. I mean, that was literally what they're doing. And now even like in Idaho, even at the college level, they're trying to ban you know, learning about racism and things. At the colleges are adults, they can choose what class they take, like they're literally adults. These are adult humans who even have the right to vote because they are now adults officially, and they can't choose what class they take at school? Well, it's crazy.Leela Sinha:
It's it's there's so much wrong with what's happening right now. And that's I think what prompted me to kind of shift my podcast and be like, Okay, I'm going to do interviews again. Because I can talk and talk and talk. But the fact is that I know so many people who are actively engaged in, in changing the story somehow, right? We're all creating the story. We're all living the story. And I think I have so many people around me right now, including myself sometimes, who are just, like, drowning in despair, the sense of futility, the sense of helplessness, a sense of, we can't fix anything, climate change horizon is over. And while we're at it, you know, COVID has taken over the universe. And like, all of those things are true to some extent. And also, we can't afford, we can't afford to just give up.Kimra Luna:
Mm hmm.Leela Sinha:
And so how do we- I think one of the other real challenges is that art has been limited by the pandemic, in such a way that it's been harder to get pieces out there that really help people envision a different ending than the one that looks obvious. Or a different future than the one that looks obvious. And, and so I want to bring forward narratives and stories and people that are about- I mean, it's sort of hope-punk, but it's like, it's this idea that, that if we're if we are currently writing the narrative, we better like get out our pens, and our Sharpie markers and our cans of spray paint and write some better narrative than what's going on here. Because this blank, white corporate wall needs something on it. That's not a blank, white corporate wall that we're all gonna run into.Kimra Luna:
Yeah, I agree. And we, it can be hard to not get into despair. Like I get it. People ask me this a lot of like, how do you have hope? You know, and, and I say like, well, it really just is helping one person at a time. You know, like, my grandma was an alcoholic. She ended up quitting drinking around the time that I was born and became a leader in the AA movement in Nampa, Idaho. She sponsored everybody. She would let people crash on her couch. She was always helping people she was in our garden, she'd be picking food, you know, giving people tomato, like, hey, you need tomatoes, you need cucumbers? Like, I saw the values that my grandma had. And, you know, when I got my bright pink mohawk in high school, she took me to the, you know, Sally's Beauty Supply and was buying me hairspray for my mohawk, and, you know, was always, like, super supportive of anything I did. And even if my ideals were a little bit different than hers, you know, she brought me to AA meetings, you know, even I was like, really young, I was like seven years old. And she would be bringing me to AA meetings, and people would be telling me these stories of their struggles and things that they wanted, you know, they want to support with and, and my grandma would do whatever it took to support those people. And so I was really blessed to have like a really good example of a person who really wanted to help people. Well, part of the reason was, my grandma said, for all the years that she was bad, she had to make up for them to be good, so she could go to heaven. So she really wanted to make up for all the years she was bad, because when she was an alcoholic, she was a very bad person at that time. But then when around the time I was born,Leela Sinha:
restorative justice is a thing,Kimra Luna:
she changed her life around and decided to spend her life helping and serving people. And, you know, I saw that as an example. And that really instilled something in me that has made me know that it's just about serving, just focus on serving. If I serve one person in a day, then I am making this world better. And if every single person went out and served one person a day, like imagine how, how much change we can have in the society. Whether that's- even if it's just holding a door for a person, right? Smiling at a person, waving at your neighbor. You know, like, bringing your neighbor some bread, or tea. Or, "Hey, I have some extra bananas, you need some?" You know, like, whatever it is, those sorts of things really, actually do make a difference. And you know, with the way that I'm serving people, it is a little bit more intense, right? Abortion is messy. So, but I have the capacity to do that. I- energetically, I've always had the capacity to serve a lot of people at once. And I know that's not everybody, you know. Like, I'm like, I mean, I had courses with thousands of people in it at a time, you know, like, I can handle a large capacity of helping people at a time. Not everybody can do that. So if you're not a person that can like be like, Oh, I can't help a lot of people: do small things. Even if it's just educating yourself about a topic, even if it's just listening to a podcast like this, you know, like, like, those things actually matter. And I think sometimes we forget, like how much just even educating ourselves or reading a book on a topic or learning about prison reform or, or whatever it is, you know, like, like learning about those things does help. You know? And so we also need to you know, self reflect to about what we're doing with ourselves, right? Taking care of ourselves. That's the whole thing right there, you know, healing your own generational trauma. So you're not passing it all down to your kids, you know, like, you know, like all that sort of stuff it all those little things add up and matter. And it continues to give me hope every single time a person, you know, messages me on my secure line, and they're needing help. I know that one piece of work that I did did its job. Whether that was passing out a piece of literature, whether it was making an Instagram post. Whatever it was of how that person found me. I know that that work worked. It did it, proved it.Leela Sinha:
Right. Because they found you.Kimra Luna:
Because they found me.Leela Sinha:
Yeah, it's that ridiculous, like, over-told starfish story. Over and over and over again, the one about the kid who's walking down the beach and throwing starfish back into the ocean. And somebody says, look at the like thousands and thousands of starfish on this beach. It's not like you can get them all back into the ocean. And the kid picks up a starfish and throws it in the ocean and says "it made a difference to that one."Kimra Luna:
Yep. Exactly. Exactly. That's exactly it. Perfect, perfect analogy. Because that's how I see this. Because I know I can't help everybody, I know that I can't. That it would be physically impossible for me to help every single person who needs access to an abortion. Completely impossible. But we have a collective of people doing this. We have tons of organizations and nonprofits. We have the ACLU and Planned Parenthood and all these organizations fighting the legal battles for us, you know, we have all of these groups, doing things. And it all makes it all together makes a big difference. So that's why to me, it's like, well, if every single person did even one little thing, it all adds up.Leela Sinha:
It all adds up. And honestly, if we stop eating our own, that will make us so much more effective. The amount of of people getting mad because whatever somebody else is doing isn't perfect. Instead of recognizing that we're all pulling in the same general direction.Kimra Luna:
For me anyway, it's really frustrating, because I'm like, Yeah, okay, so what that person is doing isn't perfect. But it's a lot closer to what I want to have happen than like, what's going on in the government in Florida right now? I don't like what's going on in the government in Florida right now. This person is, is, you know, like, maybe I would tweak what they're doing a little bit. But also, maybe their messaging is reaching people that my messaging isn't reaching, because I'm a little too close to the subject. Or I'm a little too like, in the activist space. And somebody else is, a little less in the activist space is using language that maybe isn't approved of in my inner circles, but it's saying what it needs to say, to a group of people that I'm not reaching. Like, we all have our message to give and we all have our audience to reach.Kimra Luna:
Yeah, absolutely. And I've gotten a lot of criticism because I, I do sometimes a little bit of dark, dark humor that people don't always like, or like I you know, make fun of, you know, politicians or like, call them bad names. I cuss quite a lot on my live stream. You know, so there's people that kind of get frustrated with that. And, and sometimes I'm just like, you know, like, I'm just me, like, I, I if you want somebody that's going to be super hardcore, politically correct, go talk to Planned Parenthood, you know what I mean? Like that, because that's, that's their thing, you know? But it isn't mine. You know, I'm gonna be me and I'm gonna get the point across, I need to get it across, you know. And if someone is some freakin Nazi asshole, CHUD, I'm gonna call him a Nazi asshole CHUD. You know, like, you know, like, just how I'm gonna be, you know, and not everybody agrees with that. Like, we had people that were really upset, like, during one of our protests, because we were saying, "Fuck Brad Little." He is the governor of Idaho. And we were like, chanting that. And, you know, a person afterwards sent us a message on the Instagram and was like, well, like, there's kids there, blah, blah. I'm like, that's a protest. Like, you know, like, why are there even kids there to begin with, you know, like, and like,Leela Sinha:
I mean, if you bring your kids to a protest, you gotta be prepared for protest culture, protest language, protest spaces. We can't dial back any more than we can dial back pride so that everybody feels comfortable there. That's not the point. The point of a protest is to make people uncomfortable. Yeah. And, and then, like, if you want to send your your most, you know, sweater set and pearls representative to be on, you know, probably not my podcast, my podcast, isn't that buttoned down, but there are podcasts, there are media spaces where that's the person you want representing your cause. So send them. I am extremely pragmatic, especially about things like that. I- one of one of the many hats I wear is that I'm an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister. And I used to serve parishes, like as a parish minister, and I don't do that anymore. But, you know, I would sit down and I still do sometimes sit down with my white straight cis male colleagues of a certain age and say, Listen, there's stuff you can say and there's stuff I can say. There's stuff I can say, and it'll have more credibility. There's stuff you can say that'll have more credibility. Let's talk about who's going to carry which messages to which audience before we start doing this in public. And the first few times I did that people were really shocked. And I was like, "listen, I can't-" and they're like, "What do you mean?" And I'm like, "I never get to not think about this." I always have to think about where my voice carries more weight and authority and where my voice doesn't. And so let's do this strategically. Let's make sure that whichever one of us needs to say the thing, so that gets out where it needs to go, says it. And that means that some of us should be cursing, and some of us should be like, very buttoned down and very, like, you could take me into a library story hour, and it would be fine. Both of those things are necessary, both of those kinds of messaging unnecessary. And both of those energetic presences are necessary.Kimra Luna:
Like, if all we have is the sweater set people, then the sweater set people keep the Overton Window really small.Kimra Luna:
Yeah, absolutely.Leela Sinha:
But when Act Up comes on the scene- I'm old enough to remember the AIDS crisis- when when Act Up comes on the scene and starts doing die-ins with blood in the middle of the street, suddenly, the gays in their button down shirts and sweater sets look pretty, pretty reasonable. And that's what we need.Kimra Luna:
Yeah, and exactly. And as always, it always cracks me up at all of the rallies that Idaho Abortion Rights hosted is we would have, like one speaker who's like cussing a bunch. And then the next is like a political leader, you know, like, like, it would just be like, so funny to see the different people and then like, one person would be like, a doctor who the next person is a nurse. And then the next person is, you know, an activist who's like, yeah, fuck the police, you know, like, you know, like, so it's like, you know, just different, you know, people attracted different types of energy. And we, we kind of kept it a little bit mixed. Because like, in Idaho, it's like, we don't really have like, big, like, different groups of activism. It's like all of us work together, even though a lot of us are very different from one another. And at first, a lot of people didn't really like how, what they considered, I guess, radical, like our collective was, but you know, we just told them, like, we're not changing who we are like, this was founded by punks. You know what I mean? Like, we like this, like, this is not like, a space that we're gonna, you know, be like, oh, we need to tone it down and only say, PC things and stuff. Like, we just weren't going to do that. I mean, there were people that told us to not even have the word abortion in our name, and said, We should have the word choice. I said, but it's not always a choice for someone. So no, we're not using the word choice. We're using the word abortion, because it's not a choice for every person, a person who has an ectopic pregnancy, it's not a choice. It is a necessary procedure for that person. Whether if a person has a fatal fetal abnormality, it's not a choice for them, they need to have that or they will die of sepsis. Right? So no choice. I'm not placating people. At all. We're using the word abortion in our name. That's it. Period, right. We're not going to.Leela Sinha:
It's like saying people should have access to, I don't know, disinfection procedures. It's not a choice. It's a disinfection procedure.Kimra Luna:
Like Yeah. Yeah, yeah. You sometimes it's just not a choice, right. Like, there's people who may want to have kids, but because of their disabilities, they're unable to. Right, like, so I'm like, it's not a choice for every single person. Everybody deserves access to it. So we're Idaho Abortion Rights. That's it. That's our name. We're not We're not changing it. And we had a lot of people, especially during our first protests that were just like, No, we're calling you should call it choice. Well I said no. So the pro choice rhetoric has actually used against us, because it makes it out like every single abortion is just a person who, like, isn't being responsible or isn't taking birth control or isn't, you know? Like, like, as if it's just like you is they literally even say that abortion is used as birth control. When it's not. Most of the time, it's because birth control failed! Like, over 60% of the people who who have abortions are already in a long term relationship. They know what birth control is, they've been using it, you know, so something happened, right? You know, so it's like, hello, like so. But they don't want to hear that because it's I've been pro choice pro choice pro choice being preached for the past 40 years or whatever. And now it's like, no, like, No, we are pro abortion. That's what we're Pro. We want people to be able to get access to it. And it is sometimes hard to make like a firm stance like that because there's a ton of other nonprofits that call themselves blah blah blah choice or whatever, you know, tons that are like that. And some of them have gotten mad because in like the news and like the news and stuff they say, oh, you know, pro abortion, blah, blah, blah, people get mad and I said, No, you are a pro abortion. If you're pro choice, you are pro abortion. You think people should have access to it. So like, why are y'all getting mad about semantics? You know, like it's a word like chill out, you know. But also, the word abortion shouldn't have shame around it. We need to be using that word may be saying that word. And it like it should be where, you know, when teenagers are told, like, hey, there's nothing shameful if you ever have an abortion in your life. It's a common thing,. Like one in every four women have an abortion in their life. We should be able to tell that to a teenager and say, hey, that's nothing to be shameful if if you know, you're twenty, twenty-five, thirty, forty, whenever, you know, like, if you have an abortion in life, there's nothing to be ashamed about. That's the type of messaging that needs to start getting out into the world because they've they've the far right has done so good with their rhetoric of shaming people over a normal medical procedure.Kimra Luna:
It's normal. And common.Leela Sinha:
It sufs on- it surfs on the larger body shame rhetoric that is everywhere all the time, especially for AFAB folks.Kimra Luna:
Yeah, yeah.Leela Sinha:
And so when you combine that, like, they didn't have to build that from scratch, they found a thing that was already in place. And then they built on top of it messaging, that that emphasized that kind of shaming.Kimra Luna:
Purity culture.Leela Sinha:
So if people are going to leave this interview with like, one takeaway of like, this is the thing that I heard that is going to help me stay on track, helped me stay motivated, helped me stay out of despair, what would you say that should be?Kimra Luna:
I would say, find community of people that have the same type of mindset. Whether it's online in a discord community, or Facebook group, or whether it's in person, if you could get on Zoom calls with people connect with people. Because I know a lot of people probably listening might live in a rural area and might be like, Well, it's hard to find somebody that has similar ideas as me. There's a lot of groups out there, right, whether it's in your local community or not. Another great way is to actually volunteer, volunteer working for different organizations, whether it's domestic violence groups, whether it's mutual aid groups, whether it's harm reduction, whether it's in the reproductive space, like there's a lot of organizations around where you can find like minded people to spend time with. Because when you're with those like minded people, and you know that you're doing something to make the world better, like you get hope automatically. Like it starts filling you up, because you're like, wow, we actually helped 10 people this week, like get access to Narcan. Or we helped, you know, 10 people this week, get a pregnancy test. Like that sort of stuff really, really helps in making sure that you don't go just into those deep dark, you know, corners of despair. You know, sitting in the corner hiding under a blanket, you know, like, it can be really hard, but I know that it has- you have to connect. Community is really everything. Community is healing. Community, like just being able to have a solidarity with other people be like, Oh my gosh, I'm so relieved that somebody believes the similar things that I believe that somebody believes in social justice as much as I do, right? Like, getting around those people is is so huge. And now that I live in Washington, and most of my, my peeps that I built around my community are in Boise, I felt myself so depressed, like when I first moved here, because I was so used to just being able to go into downtown Boise and like, there were my peeps. And, you know, like, I was like, so now I'm kind of like building like, more friendships here locally But it definitely, you know, made it made a huge difference. I noticed that when I moved away, like I was like, Oh my gosh, now I live in a town with 3000 people like what the heck am I gonna do? You know? So completely different, like environment? Right? So which Boise's not that big, but you know, like it but compared to here- Yeah, compared to here. It's very different. And so So yeah, so it's, it takes connecting with people, we really need to stay connected. And I honestly, with the way they're making things so divisive, that's on purpose. Because they know when we are connected to each other, that we are powerful. We are powerful, powerful, powerful. When we are connected and in community with each other. And they do not want us to be in community with each other. That is clearly their goal. That is clearly their goal. They want to divide us as much as possible, because they don't want us to have strength. So find that community.Leela Sinha:
Yes, absolutely. When you were talking, I couldn't help thinking about the, the long history of dividing us from each other. Like all the ways, the community of color being sliced and diced and sliced and diced, you know, poor white folks and poor black folks being divided from each other like, Yeah, this is a long, long, long, long strategy and, and being in community is what saves us every day.Kimra Luna:
Yep, absolutely.Leela Sinha:
I'm in a lot of queer spaces, and a lot of the younger members of those queer spaces come in and you know, they've just come out they've just figured out they're trans whatever and they enter the space. And they don't know- they're lost, right? They don't have any of what they had formerly had. And I pick them up, right? I'm like, Hey, how can I help you? What can I do for you? How's this gonna, you know? And and they're like, shocked. They're shocked that anybody would show up for them like that. And I'm like, no, no, this is how this is how marginalized people have always survived. This is how we do it. But I want to see us move. My dream, is to see us move from surviving to like, living? I'm not even gonna say thriving, just living. Not not that constant grasping for survival. And the way we do that is with community. So yes, thank you. Absolutely. Thank you so much for this interview. This has been amazing. Is there contact information you'd like to leave folks? Where should people look for you your stuff?Kimra Luna:
Yeah, the best places to find me. I mean, Instagram is definitely where I'm at quite a lot. My name there is just @kimraluna . I also tweet quite a lot of stuff as well. So if you're into anything around intersectionality, anti racism work, all sorts of stuff, I tweet pretty heavily on Twitter, which my name there is just @KimraLuna on Twitter. And then same thing on on Twitch. So if you'd like to watch live streams, we watch a lot of YouTube videos, I react to different videos from everything from environmental racism, to talking about unions to we do like a whole series that is is called Black History Month is every month. So we are always learning more new things about black history all the time. So if you're interested in any of those sorts of topics, follow me on Twitch. It's one of the best ways to see me babble on for hours on end.Leela Sinha:
And where did they find you on Twitch? What's your name, your handle on there?Kimra Luna:
Just kimraluna_Leela Sinha:
Okay, again. All right. Awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much. It has been an absolute pleasure. And I look forward to being in touch with you in other spaces.Kimra Luna:
Yes, thank you.Leela Sinha: