Gabby Rivera: Self-made Superhero

Picture of Gabby Rivera laughing in front of a colorful wall.

There is no doubt that Gabby Rivera is a superhero of her own making. Her superpowers are writing, storytelling, and advocating for different communities through personal experiences as a Queer Puerto Rican Latina.

Rivera grew up in the Bronx, New York, in a traditional Latinx family where grades mattered, there was weekly mass, and like many other Latinx families, her parents were overprotective and wanted her to do the best in life. Rivera was always a storyteller; she grew up writing, reading, and surrounded by family members who loved storytelling.

With her experiences living in the Bronx, she wrote a young adult novel, “Juliet Takes a Breath” that was released in 2016 but republished in 2019. Her debut book about a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx who navigates sexuality, family, and self-identity earned Rivera praise and awards including the 2017 Silver Independent Publisher Award for Best LGBTQ Fiction and the 2020 Gina Berriault Award.

Despite being the largest demographic of women of color in the U.S., coming in at about 32 million, Latinas oftentimes don’t see enough of themselves in books, especially in gender and cultural roles that are outside the dominant mainstream.

That’s where Rivera comes in.

Rivera writes for people to see themselves be represented. She works to create new narratives for people of color to read and relate to and she achieved exactly that when she became the writer for Marvel Comics’ “America.” America Chavez was a recurring figure in Young Avengers until Marvel tapped Rivera to write America’s first comic series featuring her as the lead character.

America is a badass queer woman who kicks ass and is authentically herself. In developing America as an evolving character, Rivera permitted America to be soft and vulnerable. Being vulnerable and feeling pain is something Rivera wishes she could offer to her female family members who were always tough for the sake of others.

Rivera advocates for QBIPOC issues through her writing and through other platforms. Her podcast, “Joy Uprising” is a place where she focuses on things and moments that bring people joy and how people prioritize that. Rivera easily conveys her positive spirit and life approach by uplifting people of color while tackling important issues like patriarchy, capitalism, and much more.

“How can we get joy if we’re not allowed to heal?,” Rivera has said.

For years now, she’s been in therapy for anxiety, depression, and so on. She’s been vocal about Latinx stigmas associated with mental healthcare such as therapy and healing from trauma. In her latest podcast episode, she speaks frankly and honestly about policy choices U.S. leaders are making. From the caging of undocumented people to the genocide of Native people, “this country doesn’t apologize for shit.”

Despite the hardships she faced, Rivera still wants to share the joys of being Latinx and has always encouraged self-love and acceptance for one’s identity. Gabby Rivera brings joy and positivity to communities that are often in deficit. Because of Rivera, more young girls will grow up reading stories where they can identify with the characters and their experiences, and that is one of the best superpowers there is.