Meet Justine Ang Fonte, M.Ed MPH, our newest sexuality superhero. She is a health and sex educator who is also known for her Instagram account, “Your Friendly Ghostwriter.” Read the feature below to get to know Justine better!
How did you get into the field?
It started in the summer of 2008 when I taught math to eighth-grade students in Houston, Texas. These students failed the state exam earlier that spring. But one particular student was absent for two weeks. When she returned, she explained that she was “sick and bleeding a lot down below the waist.” That’s when I realized that she was on her period but did not know what a period was. Later that day, I spoke with the principal and asked, “what does the health ed program look like here?” To only find that it did not exist. After being a middle school math teacher for two years, I decided to pursue public health. I received an offer from the Dalton school after earning my Master’s of Public Health at Columbia. I was at Dalton for nine years, where I built a comprehensive health program.
What’s the best/ worst part(s) of your job?
BEST: Receiving emails from people I’ve worked/taught expressing their gratitude for my teachings. It’s rare to get the gratification instantly, but it still feels great to know it did help them. And that feeling knowing the change that I affect in other peoples’ lives. I would just think, “This is why I do this,” and that’s the best part of the job.
WORST: On the other hand, sexuality is one of the most personal subject matter in humankind. I’ve received death threats for the work I do. I am uncomfortable for people but I know that discomfort in sexuality means healing and growth. Not everyone will support the work done, you can see it from the smear campaign a few months ago.
What advice do you have for folks who want to work in the field?
Five pieces of advice that I offer to folks and still have to remind myself about:
- Resist Imposter Syndrome It’s a White supremacist tool built to control us.
- Your professors are now your colleagues. Get to know them as human beings.
- Establish your affinity groups and micro-affinity groups. This will empower you and helps you to know that you are seen.
- If you are a BIPOC and someone asks you if your presentation/ work is evidence-based and to challenge your credibility, explain to them that the long-standing history of academic data on your topic is disproportionately collected by White researchers. So your presentation is how you make sense of said data as a Public Health Expert of Colour.
- Welcome to the sexuality field! Stay open to always learning more than yesterday and know that you are never alone. Our community is wonderful.
Your Friendly Ghostwriter is an Instagram account I created. It has been providing dating support since January 2021, composing text messages people avoid sending about setting boundaries. Since then, by request from my followers, the text messages have expanded to non-dating scripts to break up with their therapist, standing up to a mansplaining co-worker, and drawing boundaries when communicating with a body-shaming relative.
How was Good.Byes created?
I date a lot and my best friend has been in the front seat of a lot of my dating life. She’d ask me what I texted the dates I ended it with. So, I sent her the exact texts I sent. She said, “I hope you’ve been saving these on a spreadsheet somewhere. They are so well written, and I believe people would benefit from this at some point.” So, I created an Instagram account using those texts as the first set of templates for others to reference and now I write custom ones for friends and followers!
Please follow and support Justine’s work. You’ll be glad you did!