What’s going on?!

Tl;dr after a natural shift away from blogging, I might start doing some things again, with the warning that my interests are a little different these days.

About two years ago, I naturally shifted away from blogging.

Part of it was just that I was busy and I had been going at it at a frenetic pace that I absolutely couldn’t keep up, but part of it was that I didn’t have as much to say anymore. Most of my saying was happening in other places. For me, that was a sign of success.

The reason I wasn’t keeping up was because the performances and teaching and other connecting activities I was doing was giving me ample space to express myself and so I didn’t need to be putting it on my blog. I was doing the things I wanted to be doing – I presented the installation I had developed at school, I was organizing regular queer dance workshops, I was building relationships with people on my terms, and I had some interesting performances lined up.

Of course, the downside to that is that people who didn’t have access to me in those capacities no longer had access to me. And my writing, in general, kind of just went down the drain. I prioritized the local and artistic communities I was building because I can’t do everything. Online community is important, but it’s not my strongest skillset when in-person local community is possible.

I always meant to return and kept saying I would and then never quite had the time or correct brainspace to actually do it. When the pandemic hit, I thought that would be a good chance to actually do something online since I couldn’t in person, but a number of emergency moves and general pandemic nonsense cut things short. I’m only just coming out of the other side of my personal wringer that started last March.

And then finally, that very uncomfortable thing called change happened. I don’t disagree with the things I’ve written on this blog, but my interests are definitely elsewhere these days. There’s always that little bit of anxiety when posting something that people expect one thing and I’m giving them something else.

But fuck it, this is my blog. The point of this blog has always been to establish my position in the world of dance and beyond. I want to return to writing because I enjoy it and I want to share my current thoughts and ideas and focuses.

So, I’m back. I probably won’t write as regularly as I did before and no promises I’ll stay, but I want to at least try it again.

As a quick taster, here are some of the things I am thinking about these days:

  • Performance as a way to build community
  • Coaching and teaching skills
  • Being generally just Very Done with the dance community
  • Creative solutions to virtual performance (yup, I’m one of those people who is tired of endless livestreams and zooms)
  • Relationships with our body (yeah, that’s always a thing)
  • How to actually make dance and all sorts of art meaningfully accessible

No promises I’ll write anything ever again after posting this, let alone touch on all of these, but I am starting to get back into it and, right now, I’m excited to share thoughts about all of this and more.

If the excitement sticks around, you might end up hearing a lot from me…

Readings from March onwards

Things are going slower here, but I’ve still done loads of reading. Here’s some of the great things I’ve read, starting all the way back in March! We’ve got reminders from Black History Month and Trans Day of Visibility, and discussions around transness and trans community.

 

Black History Now: Vilissa Thompson—Activist, Writer, Licensed Social Worker And Disability-Rights Advocate

 

“Thompson’s extensive background in this area led her to establish Ramp Your Voice in 2013. She is both the founder and the CEO of the organization, where she combines her work in disability rights, background in social work and perspective as a Black woman who has a disability to address the unique obstacles that people with disabilities face—particularly if they are Black.”

 

Open Topic: Black History Month Is for White People

 

“Black History Month has a problem. The problem is the assumption that Black History Month is for black people. Exclusively. It is effectively Blacks’ History Month: a consolation prize of 28 days shoehorning in All Things Black that we should feel lucky to have. The problem of Black History Month is one of ghettoizing black history — not just on the calendar, but in the mind. It is the problem of seeing blackness and black people as specific — therefore niche — instead of seeing that same specific as universal. As in complex. Rich. Worthy. Human.”

 

When shame comes from the inner-sanctum: Biphobia within the queer community

 

“It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realised that I could feel shame around my sexuality. In a sort of heartbreaking irony, shame was instilled by those who I thought were ‘my people’ and the humans I so wanted to build relationships with.”

 

Social Justice Activists Can’t Always Fight for Everything, and That’s Okay

 

“The work of creating a better world is messy and complicated. I know I have fucked up before, judged people too harshly, and held such high standards that I’ve disappointed myself for years. But all the activists I’ve ever admired have had their own similar journeys of failures and mistakes they made and grew from. And as much as I have weathered the storm of the past years, I think I have forgotten something important in fighting for a better world for everyone: I am a person as well, and that means I deserve to be fought for as well.”

 

Stonewall Vet Miss Major Says Cops Should Be Banned from Pride

 

“The police have been monsters,” says the Stonewall-era activist, in a new public service announcement posted to Twitter. “They’re all worthless, unimaginable, horrible people and destructive to mankind in general, especially to my trans and gender nonconforming community. I don’t know who invited those motherfuckers to be in the Pride parade, they are the most detrimental thing to ever happen.”

 

Sylvia Rivera Changed Queer and Trans Activism Forever

 

“When Rivera threw that second Molotov cocktail at Stonewall, she was only 17. She was no stranger to demonstrations at that time, having also protested against Vietnam, for women’s rights and civil rights. But Stonewall incited a fervor in Rivera to keep going, to keep fighting for voices marginalized within the gay rights space. She became involved with the Gay Liberation Front, or GLF, and the Gay Activists’ Alliance, GAA, and challenged the way the predominantly white gay and lesbian community approached activism from a middle class perspective. Rivera wanted their activism to be more progressive, to include in their fight the rights of transgender individuals, including people of color, the homeless, and the incarcerated. But she challenged multiple communities through her activism, also working with Puerto Rican activist organization the Young Lords, hoping the Puerto Rican and Latinx communities would acknowledge the reality of gay and transgender people, says Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the departments of American Culture, Romance Languages and Literatures, and Women’s Studies.”

 

Every Trans Girl I Meet Is From the Future: Finding a Bereft Sisterhood

 

“But I know sisterhood is alive and well. I have trans gals in my life with whom I love and struggle, with whom I have grown breasts and discovered the impossibility of unrelentingly heterosexual men’s affection. Nicky, a friend and roommate from college, pops adorably teal estrogen tabs with me over cereal. Nicky beat my face with iridescent powders and glossy balms when my unlearned hands could not; Nicky curled her doll-sized body around my hefty form when boys would not; Nicky pulled up a YouTube vlogger displaying the fleshy transformation of her nether region when my curious, hesitant fingers could not.”

 

On Visibility and My Choice To Live As An Out Trans Woman

 

“All too often, the vitriol spewed by the transphobic bigots focuses on dehumanizing us. When you can get people to see us as less than human, it’s much easier to fear us, to exclude us, to do violence against us, to hate us. When we’re nameless and faceless, it’s much easier to turn us into scary bathroom-peeping monsters instead of just nice folks who occasionally need to go pee someplace other than our homes. Othering people is easy when those people only exist as a concept. When trans people choose to live visibly, even just to those in our close circles, suddenly there’s a living, breathing person being attached to those discussions, a very human target all that hate is directed at. And, despite all the shitty subconscious biases people hold, most are pretty unwilling to tolerate hateful attacks on people they care about.”

 

Another way to transition: Holistic pathways to gender affirmation

 

“My body and I have had some ups and downs but following a holistic pathway to transition through physical training, personal development, and facing some of the really uncomfortable and tough stuff that I grew up experiencing in an ultra-conservative, majority white regional town has given me an opportunity to learn about myself, and trust myself.”

 

Visibility is a trap

 

“For that reason, I want better ways to talk about community goals than “visibility.” I want better ways of identifying what we’re up against than “invisibility.” It’s not that people simply don’t know. It’s not a set of issues that’s purely informational. Our ideological opponents are not something that can be defeated by simply putting the word out there. We cannot Horton-Hears-A-Who our way out of this. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. No amount of “We are here! We are here! We are here!” will stop people from responding, “I know, and I despise you for it.””

 

some February readings

February is such a funny short month – Black History Month, Valentines Day, Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, all rolled up into the shortest month of the year. Still, some reading happened and some reflecting happened and here’s a bit of what I’ve been thinking about.

 

Reparations for Black People Should Include Rest

 

“Just as sleep deprivation was used as a means to control slaves, the modern-day sleep gap continues to weigh down many Black people, like me, today. I can feel it in me: It breaks my spirit, as I exist in between half-conscious states; never fully awake or asleep, never able to distinguish between the two. This may be the true power of racism—its force encompasses everything, seeping into our dreams at night and deflating our capacity to envision a better future. How can the radical Black imagination rebel against a system that so thoroughly seeks to destroy us? What would a future look like where we are liberated, reparations are paid, and we can finally rest?”

 

You Don’t Need to Forgive Anyone to Live Your Best Life

 

“American culture loves the idea of forgiveness. Adores it. If I’ve learned one thing about being Black in this culture, it’s that you need to be suspect of anything white amerikkka loves because if white amerikkka loves it, it’s probably exploiting and killing Black people.”

 

Relationship hierarchies: Defending queer friendships, community and being single

 

“My understanding of queerness has less to do with ‘relationship status,’ and more to do with creating communities that value friendship and social movements to end oppression. I struggle with belonging to the hierarchy in queer circles that values romance over all else.”

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, me: How being single became central to my queerness

 

“I could make sense of flying witches but seeing someone actively deny love – something we’re told to follow, trust, and give absolute devotion to – and live a liberated, whole, content and happy life was an extremely foreign and thrilling idea.”

 

What Disability Leaders Want To See From 2020 Candidates

 

“Every issue is a disability issue. Disability and disabled people should be front and center in every aspect of modern political campaigns. In 2016, we saw new highs and lows in terms of what’s possible. Democrats competing in a crowded field would be wise to engage people with disability as an uncommitted, yet increasingly politically active, community.”

 

 

 

 

some January readings

So, I’m going to be honest – my January got eaten up by the very real  time suck of job applications and interviews and reading didn’t happen as much as it usually does. However, what I found was really quality stuff. Every single reading here has inspired me or made me uncomfortable in that very, good think-y way, and I super recommend all of these to everyone.

 

 

ACE

A poem by Laura I.

 

This Boston Community Activist Created a Platform for Self-Healing through the Power of Art

 

“In a nation where we are faced with mass shootings, economic inequality, mass incarnation, drug crisis, sexual violence, a partisan-divided White House, poor race relations and unemployment, it’s so easy to lose yourself while maintaining some peace of mind.

Destiny Polk knows the feeling all to well and wanted the opportunity to create a space for healing through the power of art. Polk is the founder of Radical Black Girl, an art-activist platform tailored to educate communities on pressing social issues while uplifting them through high-quality performance art.”

 

For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies

 

“I have been asked by two dear friends, “how can I be a stronger ally?” Being the slow emotional processor that I am, I wanted to spend some time with this before I answered them. I surely appreciate and love these two individuals, and I appreciate their vulnerability in asking me this question.”

 

When People Ask Me About My Gender I Want To Tell Them It’s Survival

 

“My gender is I’m Afro Brazilian and First Nations Brazilian. Then I am a woman. I come from a long line of women whose bodies and land were stolen and raped. Women who were used, abused, discriminated against. When I think about my gender I think about those experiences, some of which were inflicted upon my own body. My memory and my trauma are personal and collective. They are private, public and political. Some of my scars are visible and others aren’t, but they are forever and they will carry on being forever. And they are not just mine, they are theirs, and they are ours. They still hurt but they remind me to rise. My gender is survival. It is survival not in spite of, but because of.”

 

Queer Dance Theory: On Smashing the Heteropatriarchy, Creating Body- and Sex-Positive Dances, and What it Means to be a Queer Artist

 

“I am a dancer, choreographer, and art consumer; I’m also a woman and gay person. I don’t see myself represented in the dance work that’s currently being made and performed. That’s a problem for me and I know I’m not alone. Fortunately, as an artist with a big voice and an unstoppable spirit, there’s a lot I can do about it.”

 

On the uncomfortable question of money

Tl;dr I have a donation link now in order to emphasize the importance of recognizing the value of the work I do and to emphasise the importance of funding queer artists.

 

I wrote this a year ago, put up the donation link, and was too nervous to post the actual writing. But, after a year of multiple jobs and struggling to earn enough to make my life vaguely sustainable, I’m forcing myself to publish this. I’m not asking you to donate if that puts any kind of burden or pressure on you (I’m ok, promise.), but I put a lot of work into this blog alone and I believe I owe it to myself to encourage people who can to support my work.

 

In rereading this, I do want to recognize that I’ve strayed from the trans focus of my blog this year and have included many more conversations around aroaceness, but the concepts still remain the same, even if there are some places where I wrote “cis” and now mean “cis and allo”.

 

Yeah, so, this is a hard one to write and it comes from an even harder decision, but please bear with me because this is a really important reminder about our economy and the importance of queer artists.

 

You may notice that my blog now has a donate link. It’s a small one. I’ve been toying with a lot of different options for a long time, and decided I wanted something small that asked for something small, because I’m not ready for anything larger, and it matches what I do. This blog is small, so I ask for something small.

 

When I first started this blog, I was not intending to make money from it, and I still don’t actually expect that that will happen. Freedom of information is important to me and, if I can help it, I do not intend for any of my writing to go behind a paywall. There are many reasons why someone could not pay to read something and none of those should get in the way of reading what I have to say. And, of course, a huge reason I created this blog was to find other trans dancers and people like me, which is something that should not require money. And, to trump all of that, I am under no illusion with this blog (even if I act like it most time) – I am well aware that most people who read it are my friends. I have no intention of asking the amazing people in my life who already give me so much of their love and support to give more.

 

That said, a number of different arguments, both big and small, have come up and led me to believe that a donation link belongs on my blog and that those who are reading and learning regularly from me should consider a small donation to my work. It comes down to a single story:

 

When I worked at a summer camp and was coordinating support for lgbt+ campers, some of my fellow staff members got frustrated with me because I would take myself off of other duties. At the same time, I was so emotionally exhausted from being constantly and visibly out, and then using that to guide cis and straight staff members to helping the campers, that I was not capable of doing much else. In a better situation, I would have been able to clarify that to others and clear it with the head of the camp and then gone and done the work I needed to do, but that particular camp had yet to build the support structures I needed, so I did what I could with what I had.

 

On the last day, after our campers had gone home, it became apparent that staff members that had worked with me to support LGBT+ campers and lead inclusivity by example, had not quite gotten the implications that I was also a trans person. They didn’t realize that they still had to not be transphobic. I then had to manage their transphobia. They got to turn off and relax when the campers went home, I was still doing the same work I had been doing for weeks, amidst a growing level of casual transphobia, because my cis coworkers had decided to stop doing the work they had been doing to protect trans campers. Apparently, I wasn’t worth that work.

 

The point of this story is not to whine (ok, it is), but to point out that the conversations I have and the advocacy work I do is hard, unrecognized, and, as a result, unpaid or underpaid. I put a lot of work into this blog. I put a lot of work into educating cis people outside of this blog as well. It is a lot of emotional labor. It takes time and energy, and then even more time, to restore my energy. It is easy to look at the final output of something and not understand what went in and I get that, so it’s up to me to value my own time and energy.

 

That donation link is recognition of the work I put into this blog.

 

These past few months being out of school have been hard. I worked for a transphobic boss who often forgot to pay me, I have been patching together various part-time jobs, I finally got a job I wanted, only to be informed that the organization had not quite pieced together all the details and that I would have to wait two weeks to even know my start date. Even with my more reliable (if patchwork) jobs, the money I make is just barely enough to cover rent and living expenses. I can get away with this, because I have savings, but it has meant that blogging is less of a priority. It is important to me that I keep doing this and the best way to do that is to start reframing it as part of my work, instead of an extra thing I do when I have time. In other words, by placing it as something that is work with value, I intend to make blogging part of my patchwork job situation instead of in addition to it.

 

There are also two other HUGE ideological reasons why I am doing this:

 

  1. I really need cis people to recognize and value the work I’m doing for them. I write this blog for trans people, but I know most of the readership is cis, and I do write some things specifically on allyship for cis people. So, this blog more or less provides a free education on trans identities for cis people, not a 101, but an extension and a chance to reflect on concepts beyond 101 level. Education should be free for everyone, but education providers should always be paid, as recognition of the amount of work that goes into their teaching. I get paid to teach French to children, why shouldn’t I be paid to write about trans-specific struggles for cis people? I have had so many situations when a cis person goes “oh, you’re trans? What about…?” and expects an education right then and there. I need cis people to understand that the education they receive from me is a service and not a right, and by suggesting they pay for it, I hope to clarify that.

 

  1. I refuse to be an excuse not to pay other queer bloggers, artists, and activists. Art, in general, and especially queer art, is severely underfunded. Many queer artists rely on online donations to live. They have to put things behind paywall, use Patreon, crowdfund ideas, and beg for enough money to pay rent. For someone who doesn’t understand the work that goes into art, it’s easy to think that the people not asking for donations are somehow morally better. So, I am putting a donation button as a model, not just a recognition of the value of my work, but as emphasis that queer artists are allowed to ask for money (and should be asking for money).

 

So, long story short. I have a donation button here and I’d like to encourage you to use it if you are cis, not a personal friend (and thus already giving me so much and being so amazing), and have the means. In the big picture, I hope everyone considers this every time they see a queer artist asking for money and try to put a little aside to value our work the way it should be valued. This also goes towards artists of colors, disabled artists, and any artist who is already marginalized from systems of support. Being an artist is hard.

 

Some November Readings

November’s been a strange month – Halloween’s over, some people have already decided it’s Christmas, and then there’s TDoR right smack in the middle and, if that’s not enough, Thanksgiving (about which, I have many opinions), and the horror of Black Friday ends the month. That said, there’s been some good reading – a lot around asexuality and white supremacy, and more detailed looks at race. I’ll openly admit some of these made me uncomfortable. Very very uncomfortable. I’m not sure if I agree with all of them. But, I think that if I’m uncomfortable when a person of color talks, that probably means I’ve got more work and more listening to do, and that person is saying important things. It makes it that much more important that we read those things.

 

 

Brookline dance studio opens the floor to people with disabilities

 

“It was hard to find traditional dance spaces for me to dance. Also, there are a lot of different techniques in which there is a “correct” way to demonstrate a move and [presumably] not a lot of room to work through that,” she explained. “So if you’re not able to do it [a certain way], you’re viewed as not having the ability or level to perform a routine.”

 

100 Ways White People Can Make Life Less Frustrating For People of Color

 

“As someone with very low tolerance for racist bullshit, I’ve managed to surround myself with white people who are cognizant of their privilege and strive to make the world a less terrifying and frustrating place for people of color. This means that I often deal with said white people asking me what they can actually do to affect change. So here, anxious allies of the world, are 100 simple ways to be the change. It’s not nearly comprehensive, but it’s somewhere to start. Go forth and disrupt our harmful racial paradigm!”

 

 

What’s R(ace) Got To Do With It?: White Privilege & (A)sexuality

 

“As a queer South Asian I don’t feel comfortable ascribing the identity of ‘asexual’ to my body. Part of the ways in which brown men have been oppressed in the Western world is by de-emasculating them and de-sexualizing them (check out David Eng’s book Racial Castration). What then would it mean for me to identify as an ‘asexual?’ What would this agency look like in a climate of white supremacy? Can I ever authentically express ‘my’ (a)sexuality or am I always rehearsing colonial logics?”

 

Why Are Asexual Characters Always White?

 

“Generally, it’s assumed that asexuality makes up a tiny percentage of the LGBTQ community. Now imagine that small percentage of people, who do not get enough visibility as it is, and replace every possible person with a non-POC. Taking this into perspective, what the media sees is just the tip of the iceberg, and that iceberg is overwhelmingly white. In addition to the severe lack of diversity regarding race and ethnicity, what is shown is a very general idea of asexuality, which often does not even take into account that asexuality itself is a spectrum.”

 

High Tide of Heartbreak

 

“Tending our wounds is central to loving. Love is richer when it comes with an understanding of pain endured, of mortality faced, of chasms crossed. To love is to face the wound honestly and then let the wound be less than one’s entire truth, to love despite the wound. That is the kind of love, I think, that calls me to express these thoughts today.”

 

Racism is White Women’s Pathway to Power

 

“As this election season winds down, as we see the demographics of the exit polls, we cannot help but notice, again, that white people vote for racism and white supremacy. It’s not a secret. It hasn’t been a secret for a while, yet to hear the media tell it, Black people are deciding these elections, despite us making up 12-15% of the population.”

 

Trans Day of Remembrance 2018

tl;dr TDoR is hard. So, let’s mourn in the way that is right to us.

 

Yeah, Trans Day of Remembrance is hard. I went to see if I wrote anything about it last year to help me write this one and found nothing.

 

I’ve avoided writing about TDoR mainly because it is a day that is very much not about me. I am trans, but I do not face the terrifying violence other trans people face. All I can do is sit back and honor our lost to the best of my ability. My heart breaks at every name read, at every candle lit, and I can’t help but wonder if I’m doing enough, if I’ll ever be able to do enough to counteract this horrendous violence.

 

The first TDoR was held simultaneously in San Francisco and Boston to honor the death of Rita Hester, a trans woman from Boston who was murdered in 1998. It was founded by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a member of the Boston trans community. In Smith’s words: “This day we mourn our losses and we honor our precious dead — tomorrow and every other day, we shall continue to fight for the living.”

 

TDoR is not a day to fight, it’s not a day to push for change, it’s our day to mourn. Grief looks different on everyone and the grief that comes with this amount of community loss is overwhelming.

 

We have lost so much brilliant members of our community this year. The list is here.

 

But, grief and mourning is self-serving. We can’t bring back the dead, but we still have to learn how to live with the loss. So, let’s take this day to mourn the loss of every bright member of our community however works best for us – at an event, in our own private ceremonies, making art, sitting in silence, reading all the names, honoring a specific person…this is your day to do what you can. This is our day to try to manage the horror of loss.

 

And, if nothing else, we have community. We have each other. Never forget the power of the trans community.

 

Trans women of color, I pledge to do my best to keep you safe. I refuse to let this number grow.

Trying to do better at challenging racism

Tl;dr I need to work harder to include anti-racist work in this blog and in my life. As a start, here are some of the things I’m thinking about and working on in case it is helpful for other white folks. I hope I can keep growing and getting better as I take on this work.

 

Note: This post is specifically for white people about how we can be more active and effective in anti-racist work. People of color, you are welcome to read it, but I do not expect you to put any emotional labor into this. This is me and other white people trying to figure our shit out without doing you harm.

 

So, I recently took a class called White People Challenging Racism: Moving from Talk to Action. I highly recommend it to any white person in the area – check out the organization here.

 

I need to completely own it – I’ve been super wary about talking about race on this blog, and in my life, because I am so terrified of making a mistake.

 

But, of course, what that means is that I’ve just been bopping along in my angry queer rants without ever making it explicitly clear how much race plays into everything I write. Yes, I am an angry queer, but I am an angry white queer and so, I am allowed to perform anger. I still put up with a lot of bullshit because of my anger, but that is never because I am white.

 

That needs to be explicitly clear here, and everywhere else I share my opinion.

 

I like to think I’m a good white ally, but, the truth is that I’m probably not. So, for me and other white folks who want to be the good white ally, here are some things I am working on in myself, both small and large, which may be useful for all of us to hear:

 

  • Not interrupting. Living with my family, I learned that the only way that I would be heard was if I interrupted and basically outshouted my family members, so it’s now a habit. Except, when a white person interrupts a person of color, that is no longer me saying “I want to be heard”, it’s me saying “what I have to say is more important than what you have to say”. I’m working not to interrupt at all, even with my family, and to cut myself off and apologize when I do.

 

  • Talking to other white people about race. This is challenging because many white people in my life are work colleagues, some of whom are supervisors and managers. But it is really important to do, not just because it helps white people to Not Be As Terribly Racist, but because it’s a form of prevention. If I can have a conversation with a white person about racism now, maybe that person will be less likely to ask a person of color to perform emotional labor.
    • This is also about challenging White Fragility before it becomes harmful. Us white people are super sensitive to conversations about race because we never have to do it. If I talk about race with another white person, we’re both challenging our sensitivity and, hopefully, becoming a little better at managing conversations about race.

 

  • Embracing discomfort. The result of my particular brand of White Fragility is running away. I defend myself and avoid ever being challenged for my racism by simply running away or avoiding the conversation. I like to think that I still learn from the encounter, but then I think about what I want from my cis allies. When they run away, all they’re telling me is that they aren’t willing to face the problem. If they stick around, even when making giant mistakes, I know we’re going to get somewhere eventually. I’m trying to stick around a bit more and embrace my own discomfort in being called out and challenged2 in discussing race.

 

  • Encouraging and supporting people of color in leadership and decision-making positions. Sadly, I don’t often have the power to do this, but one of the things I’ve been working on is building my personal lists of local trans artists of color and local queer artists of color and local people of color who are good at XYZ thing. That means that anytime anyone asks me for a recommendation, I’ve got a name at the tip of my tongue. It means that if someone asks me to do something I can’t do, I can refer them to a person of color. If (when) I am in the position to do so, I can use the list to hire and consult with people of color in my work. If I am in a position to speak with white people in leadership and decision-making positions, I try to ask how people of color are involved in their decision making process and (if it is relevant), why there aren’t people of color with decision-making power.

 

  • Listening to people of color when they speak. This also includes reading anything they write. I love blogs because it is someone making a choice to share something. I know that I’m not demanding emotional energy from a person in the moment. They have written that when they are in a position to write it and have left it for me to read when I am in a position to read it. But beyond blogs, when people of color have something to say, it’s my job to sit the fuck down and listen, whether or not I’m in a position to hear it (this goes back to the not running away thing too).

 

  • Consuming and supporting art made by people of color. I’m actively trying to prioritize going to see shows by people of color. I also make it a point to watch movies and tv shows by and centering people of color. Unlike some of the other points here, this is EASY and it’s FUN because artists of color are damn good at what they do. Have you watched Dear White People yet? Luke Cage? What about Crazy Rich Asians? Black Panther? Away from the big names, what about incredible queer artists of color such as Black Venus, Kit Yan, and Billy Dean Thomas? Queer artists of color get so much less visibility, but the work they are making is so worth the extra effort to find it. I could wax poetic about that forever.

 

I want to end with that point because it’s so easy to look at anti-racism work and go “that’s SO HARD and takes SO MUCH WORK” and yes, that’s true, but it can also be an absolute joy. Yes, fighting racism is about arguing with your racist family member over Thanksgiving (UGH), but it’s also about positivity, it’s about celebrating success, and it’s fun. I find that so energizing and am trying my best to hold onto that when I find my energy flagging.

 

So, that’s a list. There’s probably about ten thousand other things to do and things to think about, but that’s what I’m working on now. It’s hard, I haven’t figured it out yet, but I am working at it. But I hope the list looks a little different in a year as I grow and keep doing better.

I think the most important thing I’m learning is that I’m never going to be perfect, and that’s ok, as long as I keep getting better, apologizing for my mistakes, and moving forward. I want to include anti-racism as an underlying theme in this blog. I need to do better. We all have to.

Some (late) October readings

I know, I know, it’s not October anymore. I’ve been hit with a whole slew of overwhelming things, so this blog has been sitting dormant for a little while. I did compile this list a little while ago, so keep in mind these are things I read and looked into in October, from intersex awareness day (woo!) to gender in Zouk dancing. We’ll hopefully get back on track in November.

 

Maybe, no promises. But, in the meantime, lots to read!

 

Lost this year

 

London Moore (North Port, FL)

Read more

 

Nikki Enriquez (Laredo, TX)

One of four victims murdered by a Border Patrol agent targeting sex workers

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Statement from the Transgender Law Center

 

Ms. Colombia (New York, NY)

An integral, cheerful part of her Jackson Heights community

Read more

 

Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier (Chicago, IL)

Part of Chicago’s ballroom scene

Read more

 

 

Reading

 

How to Support Intersex People on Intersex Awareness Day — And Every Day

 

“Since the 1950s, intersex people have been the targets of nonconsensual medical interventions in attempts to fit our bodies into a false sex binary. The first time intersex people took a stance and demonstrated publicly against our medicalization was on October 26, 1996 in Boston. We celebrate that act of courage annually on Intersex Awareness Day, and on every other day of the year.”

 

Searching for a Place to Call Home While Queer and Trans in America

 

“The queer and trans organizers and artists I most admire are those who stay and build; those who do the difficult, unsexy work of holding space in their communities, creating and maintaining resources for those who do not or cannot leave. I survived that night in Birmingham because of those folks, because of a thriving, loving community that exists as the result of their tireless organizing.”

 

The Superstition that LGBTQ+ People Are “Contagious”

 

“Within a few short years, suburban folks went from wanting to believe that nobody they knew was queer, to wanting to know who was queer or who was not. This may have been for the worst possible reason. But for the first time in my isolated, suburban life, people began acknowledging the reality that queer folks lived amongst them. And being queer suddenly seemed like an actual possibility to me — not merely a slur, but something that somebody could actually be.”

 

Gendered Roles in Brazilian Zouk: An Interview with Bruno Galhardo

 

“Yet even dance is not something so common for the society. Myself, I started dancing because I wanted to feel part of something. When I was a teenager, I didn’t feel like I was part of anything. I wasn’t good at playing sport, so I found something that could make me feel that I am good at something.”

 

Hamish Henderson

 

“His work in folklore revival helped change the cultural landscape of Scotland, and his poetry and songs are well known. It would be easy to dismiss his social activism and fight for gay rights in Scotland and focus on his writings, but that would do him a great disservice. His politics were intrinsically tied to his identity as a queer Scottish man from an impoverished Gaelic background and he drew from his experiences to raise the voices of those who were often silenced and devalued.”

 

The Importance of Not Drowning

 

“You don’t know the term “asexual” yet. And when you learn about it, thanks to social media and fanfictions and other asexual friends, you push this idea away. This is not you. You are gay, right? And you have spent too much energy being ashamed of it, so it is too late to change your label now. You are just not ready for sex, not interested yet. You may be ace for now, but things will change. They always do.”

some September readings

[cw: discussions of racist, transmisogynistic anti-trans violence]

So, September was a month to look back into history (it was on accident! I know October is LGBTQ history month in the US). It also was a chance to look at the trans lives we also lost in late August that I missed at the time. These days, I feel like every year we’re saying “this is the deadliest year for trans women” and  we’re constantly saying “there is a crisis for trans women of color” and, instead of getting better, it gets worse and worse and worse. This has been a terribly deadly year for trans people in the US and internationally. Vontashia Bell, on this list, was eighteen fucking years old.

 

So, as we head into US LGBTQ History Month (and the UK’s Black History Month), let’s remember the history we’re making right now. This a dark moment in history, particularly for trans women of color. Let’s do better.

 

I went back and forth on whether or not to include folks from outside the US. In the end, I decided that there is no reason not to include a name on this list, because these are names we must honor. That said, I do usually focus on murders in the US because there are so many murders worldwide that no single person could keep track of and honor them. I’m in the US, so these are the murders most relevant to me. The fact that I cannot truly honor every member of my extended trans family who is murdered is disgusting.

 

Lost this Year

 

Esra Ateş (Istanbul, Turkey)

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Begüm (Bursa, Turkey)

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Vanessa Campos (Paris, France)

Peruvian sex-worker

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Statement from Acceptess-T (in French)

 

Dejanay Stanton (Chicago, Il)

Loved to travel

Read More

 

Vontashia Bell (Shreveport, LA)

Eighteen years old

Read More

 

Shantee Tucker (Philadelphia, PA)

Straight-talker, worked in an area beauty store

Read More

 

 

Reading

 

Almost Forgotten Voices: The Transvestite Magazine of Weimar Berlin

 

“From 1919 until February 1933, somewhere between twenty-five and thirty separate homosexual German-language journal titles appeared in Berlin, some weekly or monthly and others less frequently. These supplemented, of course, Berlin’s first homosexual periodicals: Adolf Brand’s Der Eigene and Hirschfeld’s Jahrbuch. By contrast, there were practically no such journals published anywhere else in the world until after 1942.” (Robert Beachy, Gay Berlin)

 

Whitewashing HIV History

 

“At that time, no one knew what HIV was. It would be another 12 years before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a mysterious pneumonia and immune deficiency that had afflicted “five young men, all active homosexuals.” Deaths started mounting in 1981, and HIV would not be identified by scientists until 1984. In 1987, HIV was found in Rayford’s tissue samples. Very few noticed.”

 

Kimberlé Crenshaw and Lady Phyll Talk Intersectionality, Solidarity, and Self-Care

 

“We spoke with Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and Lady Phyll to talk about the gifts they’ve given to a generation of Black LGBTQ+ people: the tools to dismantle the master’s house, and a blueprint for the promised land to be built on its grave thereafter.”

 

The Real-Life LGBT Outlaws of the American West and Writing Queerness Back to Historical Fiction

 

“Here’s the setup of my soon-to-be-published novel, The Best Bad Things, in a nutshell: The year is 1887, and in the wild west of the Washington Territory, a hard-boiled, rule-bending Pinkerton’s detective goes undercover to infiltrate a smuggling ring. The detective’s name is Alma Rosales. She’s Latinx, she’s gender-fluid, and she’s queer. One of my writing friends and I fondly call her the “manic pixie butch stud.” I’m kind of in love with her — and I hope you’ll love her, too.”