Isn’t it Queer?: The Alchemy of the Spirit

Trigger warning: In today’s Isn’t it Queer? I will be discussing transphobia and gender discrimination. In some of the content, I pull from examples of parents or loved ones who make judgments of gender which may be triggering for some individuals.

There is a painful beauty in the necessity of social deviance and in breaking gender norms in order to become our authentic selves. Many individuals experience years of excruciating gender conditioning, especially when we brave the gender “deviance” necessary to become who we feel we are on the inside; i.e. “You look prettier in a dress,” “I don’t know, you just look too…girly…can’t you wear the baggier jeans honey?” “I don’t know what you are trying to prove by not wearing make-up, it just makes you look like an angry bitch.” The early conditioning, littered with misogyny and gender discrimination, plants seeds of shame and fear in our ideas of self. Members of the trans community also face degrading judgment in the form of outright transphobic statements; “You are my daughter, you can’t be a man,” or “ewww! that is disgusting, what happens to their genitals?”, creating a foundation riddled with fear of isolation from family members, and the very real possibility of not being able to find work and stability because we want our inner gender identity to match our visible exterior.

“When the Japanese mend broken objects they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold, because they believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.” – Barbara Bloom

So here is my light bulb moment! We can and are finding ways to take care of ourselves and our communities using art, self care, therapy, yoga, and human connection. We are finding our fissures and breaks and casting them in the gold of our authenticity. All corn aside, we need to celebrate our painful transitions into our real selves as being gorgeous acts of androgynous alchemy. Taking our traumas, processing them, and using the hurt to fuel or drive our passions and pursuits can turn the tables on systematic oppression for our own self empowerment. In further tangential pondering, this artistic thinking can help us reframe concepts such as ‘transitioning,’ to be so much more substantial, and less black and white, than “getting a sex change.” How powerful would it be if we viewed transitioning as being lucky. What other humans get to watch their coming of age, and transition into becoming their authentic selves, physically as well as emotionally? Explicitly said, the function of this reframing is not to invalidate the immense pain of being repudiated by a culture or to play down systematic oppression, but instead the reframe is meant to be a function of empowerment for the individual’s emotional growth. To help us feel healthy and whole, we need healthy and whole perspectives on what it means to be who we are, whether that is trans, bi, gender queer, etc.

These are some artists, performance artists, and photographers that are busy demonstrating the earthy, real beauty of gender fluidity, trans identity, and gender non-conformity. I hope these pieces move you to tears, like they did for me:

Heather Cassils 1
{Collaboration piece from Heather Cassils, preformance artist and photographer by Alejandro Santiago}
Heather Cassils 2
{Collaboration piece from Heather Cassils, preformance artist and photographer by Alejandro Santiago}
Half and Half
{Mo B Dick’s Half and Half. Also check out this incredible queer art tumblr, it’s impressive: https://queercultureproject.wordpress.com/}
{http://www.janamarcus.com/docus/TransPresentation/sld001.htm}
{http://www.janamarcus.com/docus/TransPresentation/sld001.htm}

Jana Marcus’s Transfigurations, is a photography-interview project that aims to illuminate the Trans perspective, using insightful information from the personal anecdotes of trans individuals. These personal accounts are movingly penetrative and offer a more complex depiction of fluidity in the identities and experiences of trans individuals. To view the project visit Jana Marcus’s website: Transfigurations.

{http://www.glaad.org/blog/photographer-jen-rosensteins-transformational-project-features-transgender-subjects}
{http://www.glaad.org/blog/photographer-jen-rosensteins-transformational-project-features-transgender-subjects}
{Patty Chang, Melons (At a Loss) }
{Patty Chang, Melons (At a Loss) }
{http://dusticunningham.com/}
{http://dusticunningham.com/}
{http://dusticunningham.com/}
{http://dusticunningham.com/}
{Genderbent http://dusticunningham.com/}
{Genderbent http://dusticunningham.com/}

So to leave on an alliterative note, the world of trans, gender non-conforming art and activism is alive with variety. New bold spirits brave enough to turn their pain into inspiring testimonials and social commentary, emerge every day.

So my lovely gender warriors, one last question: In what way can your pain power your passion?

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

———-

Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

e

 

 

Isn’t it Queer?: Poetry Soup for Achy Souls

BannerWe may be living in a culture that worships doctors and Barbies. It may be kind of shitty. We are perpetually inundated with media that is “by the cis-male for the cis-male,” “tits, ass and football!” and trying to live and thrive as a marginalized identity can lend itself to feeling lonely, invisible, disenfranchised and ostracized. Sometimes our ability to swiftly jump the gender binary, despite us knowing how talented and strong that makes us, can instead make us the target of unnecessary scrutiny by the painfully uninformed. Sometimes being a person of color who embraces your hair and the darkness of your skin, rather than adopting white norms of beauty can make you an outsider, rather than the fashion pioneer that we know you are.

For those of us that work in industries where the main topic of conversation with co-workers is barely able to surpass the Super Bowl commercials or whoever is currently arguing with Kim Kardashian on Twitter, it can leave us hungry for more substantial interactions and more meaningful dialogue. This is especially true for those of us living alternative lifestyles because we are already combating an un-inclusive cultural environment on top of the job problems, the I-had-a-fucking-crazy-childhood-problems, and the I can’t-fucking-afford-gas problems, that everyone else is dealing with. We all need small talk to blow off steam, don’t get me wrong, but how often is that small talk affirming of our non-cis, lgbtq, or poc identity? Never? Yeah me too. So for today’s episode of, Isn’t it Queer? I will be showcasing poetry exclusively from women of color, queer/trans/non-cis individuals, and individuals with alternative love preferences, with the intention of bringing healing food to your achy soul. Poetry is the keyhole we peer into, to find where our soul hides out when it is injured. These poems come from the pain, passion and struggle of their authors and are born with a variety of intentions. Poetry can be built with the intention of healing, of commiserating, of illuminating or of vocalizing a point of view that is overlooked by the mainstream ear. So, with love and compassionate revolution, I bring you poetry to sooth of the achy soul:

 Donna Kate Rushin

I highly recommend that every person on the planet read this incredible, groundbreaking collection of poetry and essays. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Here is a sample by Donna Kate Rushin, The Bridge Called My Back:

I’ve had enough 
I’m sick of seeing and touching 
Both sides of things 
Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody

Nobody 
Can talk to anybody 
Without me Right?

I explain my mother to my father my father to my little sister 
My little sister to my brother my brother to the white feminists 
The white feminists to the Black church folks the Black church folks 
To the Ex-hippies the ex-hippies to the Black separatists the 
Black separatists to the artists the artists to my friends’ parents…

Then 
I’ve got the explain myself 
To everybody

I do more translating 
Than the Gawdamn U.N.

Forget it 
I’m sick of it

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against 
The isolation of your self-imposed limitations 
Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners 
Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches 
Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the world 
Find something else to make you legitimate 
Find some other way to be political and hip

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood 
Your manhood 
Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to 
Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst self 
On behalf you your better selves

I am sick 
Of having to remind you 
To breathe 
Before you suffocate 
Your own fool self

Forget it 
Stretch or drown 
Evolve or die

The bridge I must be 
Is the bridge to my own power 
I must translate 
My own fears 
Mediate 
My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere 
But my true self 
And then 
I will be useful

 I personally adore this piece because of it’s affirming nature. The message that we are not obligated to be people’s interpreters or curators but they are instead obligated to research and explore the things they do not understand. Sometimes I read this one mid-workday to remind me not to take on other people’s ignorance as my personal battle.

 Janani Balasubramanian

Now, dear readers, let’s hear some spoken word. Go on Poet, don’t be nice! Poet and author, Janani Balasubramanian’s, “trans/national,” illustrates the plurality of masculinity through his family’s response to his transition, he ties in colonialism, white masculinity, and misogyny and in general just kicks a bunch of ass.

Balasubramanian’s visceral expression is a powerful commitment to resist male and white privilege, to hold and embrace his culture and family, and to be authentically him. What commitments do you own enough to announce them boldly?

 Nayyirah Waheed

Holy Shit buy Salt, by Nayyirah Waheed. I was introduced to this incredible woman’s poetry by my co-blogger Lyneonme. Her poetry has the purifying power of it’s clever title and it will open and heal you. Waheed’s, Salt, is a series of short poems that builds a fertile soil for your empowerment and personal growth, and if ever there was a poet that will incite your healing, she is that poet. With gratitude, I bring you a few of her gorgeous missives:

“if 
the ocean 
can calm itself, 
so can you.
we 
are both 
salt water 
mixed with 
air.”

“i love myself.’

the 
quietest.
simplest. 
most
powerful.
revolution. 
ever.” 

“remember,
you were a writer 
before
you ever 
put 
pen to paper.
just because you were not writing 
externally. 
does not mean you were not writing
internally.” 

“you
not wanting me
was
the beginning of me
wanting myself
thank you” 

“expect sadness
like
you expect rain.
both,
cleanse you.” 

 -To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

———-

Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

e