#TGIF ! thank goddess i am femme!!!
this month to #ReclaimPride ! i am writing love letters to queer and trans artists and activists of color in my life who have made me the person i am today! next up are all of the gender non-conforming femmes i hung out with in Cape Town!!! this is a photo from a project we collaborated on called #FemmeInPublicSA where we celebrated transfemininity in public and did a fashionable direct action! we are here! we are queer! we are fabulous! each one of these people are just so brilliant, beautiful, and exquisite and spending time with them fundamentally changed my life. this project was motivated by a desire to celebrate friendship and solidarity between trans femmes: that when we walk alone on the street it's terrifying, but when we have each other we are less afraid. truth be told: many times i feel lonely as a gender non-conforming person of color. this collaboration and the friendships it engendered for the first time in a long time allowed me to feel like part of something greater than myself. In a transmisogynist and racist world, femmes are encouraged to hate each other and compete -- coming together like this in love and solidarity was so important to me. meeting people who i did not know but already intimately knew. the way that we could see and recognize each other in our entirety, in our complexity, like no one else could. all of these girls are brilliant artists, fashionistas, stylists, performers, dancers -- but more importantly they are lovers, dreamers, feelers who at a basic level are fighting for all of our right to live and thrive outside of the gender binary! we are told continually and systematically that we don not exist, that we are not enough, that we are not real. but when we come together in our power and vulnerability we unravel all of that bullshit at the seams. thank you friends -- i am proud of you!! photo by @shakalulu
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This month to #ReclaimPride I am writing love letters to queer and trans artists and activists of color in my life who have made me the person I am. Next up is the inimitable @zinziminott ! Zinzi is a Black queer femme dancer, dreamer, fashionista extraordinaire based out of London! I first met Zinzi on a euro tour two years ago and I have been enamored with her ever since. Where to even begin! Zinzi is hands down one of the most brilliant artists I have ever met. Her commitment to her craft is unparalleled -- she hustles so hard to sustain herself as a dancer who refuses to compromise her truth and her politics. She is a visionary artist true and true and demands a world that respects, compensates, and celebrates artistry. She thinks so deeply about the world and it's reflected in her practice -- her work directly engages some of the most important questions of the past and present. I recently had a dance lesson with her and besides kicking my ass it showed me first hand her skill, her poise, her elegance. On top of all of this Zinzi is just such an emotionally intelligent person -- she can trudge through some intensely complicated situations and provides me and so many others with clarity and purpose. Conversations with Zinzi linger, they do not leave your mind. Her words have the potential to change your life (that is if you heed them!) On a lighter note my most favorite memory of zinzi was when she stayed with me in NYC last year and we had to pull her huge suitcase up the stairs. Never in my life had I met anyone who packed more than me! As she took out heel after lace after skirt she said, "Who knows! I might need this!" And I just smiled and loved it because fuck yeah -- that femme power is so real. She brings it to every space with gravity, beauty, conviction. I truly believe she is one of the most talented dancers of our time. Thank you Zinzi for all that you are. I am proud of YOU!
This month to #ReclaimPride I am writing love letters to queer and trans artists and activists of color in my life who have made me the person I am. Next up is my dear friend @pivonari ! Nari is a Kazakh trans femme activist based in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The minute I met Nari it was like we had known each other for years. We started joking &!gossiping and intermittently talking about politics and anti-trans violence. For Nari gravity & levity are harmonious. I took this photo of her a few days after we met when we are doing a "self care" date together. We went and got our nails done, went out for lunch, got a massage -- and all the while we shared stories about our lives and our dreams and our loves. Nari is a fierce warrior for trans femme people, and especially sex workers. She doesn't call what she does activism, she just does it cause she knows she's right. Her home is always a safe space for trans femmes to share knowledge & safely tips & recover. I learned so much from her commitment to joy (let's party!) and care -- she practiced a type of care that felt stronger than family. She made every effort to make sure that I was safe, to host me, to do my makeup, to dance. There were so many conversations we had that felt soul affirming. Like that time I talked about being non binary and she was like "Yeah I'm not a woman either, I am TRANS!" or that time she said "These cis people, these feminists -- they don't care about us. They don't care when we are raped, beaten, killed, sent to jail. All we have is each other. We have to do this for ourselves." The situation for trans femmes of color in Central Asia is bleak -- many face extreme violence, poverty, police brutality, and criminalization. Many struggle to find employment, community, and safety. My trip there made me recognize the extents that post-soviet and post-colonial Russian empire spaces are disappeared from our global conversations of LGBTQ rights. As always, it is under resourced trans femmes of color like Nari doing the bulk of the work who never get the recognition they deserve. Thank you for all you do Nari! I am so proud of you and I miss you so much! Can't wait to party again soon!
princess peach ditched her misogynist partner mario & joined the trans femme squad to overthrow the patriarchy
This month to #ReclaimPride I am writing love letters to queer and trans artists and activists of color who have made me the person I am today. Next up is my dear friend @hodan.w ! Hodan is a Black queer diasporic femme dreamer based out of Amsterdam. Her work is so vital because she is examining the specific dimensions of white supremacy and colonialism in the Dutch context. Holland continues to be a very hostile place to Black and PoC queer/feminist imagining so Hodan's work is so essential precisely because it unsettles. We first met in 2012 and since then every year I see her my heart jumps leaps and bounds! We just dig deep, no small talk necessary: talk about our desires, our insecurities, our contradictions. We are able to relish in one another's complexity -- and give permission to one another to be more than the identities and words affixed to our bodies. Hodan reminds me that we are all just jugs of stories flowing around inside of us waiting to spill for the right people. I find myself making connections and ideas about my life that I couldn't without her -- she has taught me that the process of self discovery and self realization is relational/communal. Recently we were talking about the tensions between politics and joy -- and what it would mean to really prioritize joy in our lives without guilt or that nagging sense of obligation. We gave each other permission to experiment, to deviate, to transform. I so love her because she allows me to transform. I feel like often we require the people around us to remain static and one dimensional for our stability, but hodan makes me feel like it's beautiful and important and natural to be constantly transforming and that is just such a huge relief you know? We just get to have real talks -- about where our bodies begin and our politics begin and what it means to embody the ideas and dreams we have and to navigate worlds and relationships that aren't ready for them. I could go on about all of the political ideas she has taught me, but they don't feel as important as the political lessons she has shown me the way that she lives her life. The best leaders are our friends. I am proud of you Hodan!
last night a white woman sexually groped me at a club. i am putting that here because i do not know where else to put it. i am putting that here just to say "this happens!" (a lot) just to say "this hurts!" (a lot). just to say that thousands of years of entrenched colonialism & transmisogyny racialize/gender people like me as villains & never victims, make you (and not me) surprised by this encounter, make you want to dismiss it as an incident & not a structure. i post this here just to say that last week in paris i broke down crying on the street not because anyone touched me, but because everyone was staring at me and i couldn't tell the difference. i am tired of being stared at but never seen. touched, but never held. admired, but never aided. groped, but never vindicated. tired of being reduced to a spectacle, an aesthetic prop, a metaphor, a fetish, a trope, an anomaly, a minority. my name is alok and i am a person with a lot of feelings & hurt & love & fear. my name is alok & i do not believe in harassment, i believe in torture. the thing about torture is that you don't even need to touch a body to hurt it. it is crying on the streets because no one looks like you, only looks at you, is that precarious position of being lonely -- deeply lonely -- even though there are thousands of people around you. my name is alok and i believe in a world without transmisogyny, trans people would be the majority. after that woman touched me i wanted to disappear. i wanted to be invisible -- for one time in my life to be invisible. the same way i want to disappear when they ask me to pose for a photograph on the street before asking me my name, asking how i am doing. my name is alok and i am not doing well: i hurt because people hurt people like me and no one cares. i hurt because i have to teach you about why you should care. I hurt because we have to create the language, the poetry, the headlines, the stories for you to care -- all that while we are being harassed (i mean tortured). how do you heal from PTSD when there is no post? how do you heal from PTSD when there is no post?
This month I am writing love letters to queer and trans artists and activists of color across the world as a way to #ReclaimPride and celebrate the people who have gifted so much to my life. Next up is the qtiest qt my friend @jvettiv ! Josh is a nonbinary/queer Tamil Sri Lankan sculptor and all around badass artist based out of Toronto. We met years ago, maybe like 2012? Via the internet because we had both encountered one another's work online challenging racism within the queer community and exploring how "coming out" felt like "coming into whiteness." At this point in my life I didn't know many queer South Asians, let alone artists, and Josh's visibility and work was so affirming for me!! We eventually met in 2014 when I was performing in Toronto for the first time. Josh just showed me the best of times -- taking me to some of their favourite places in the city and helping me fall in love with the place (shoutout to Toronto one of my fav places to be!) Since then every time I'm in Toronto I spend time in Josh's art studio just watching and talking and dreaming. Their art practice is just so kind and genuine and meaningful. Their approach to curating is so political and they are taking great strides to get more artists of color recognized in Canada. Both Josh and I share an ambivalent relationship with the "art world," and our conversations about the politics of art making (tokenization, orientalism, pinkwashing) have been so foundational to my own practice. Not even just about work -- our talks on the awkwardness of gender, of never fitting into desirability norms, of navigating queer life...those have been so affirming and foundational to my self esteem. More than all of this Josh is just such a kind and loyal friend. I cherish our hang outs because they are funny, light hearted, familial even. That's cause josh feels like family -- like we don't have to talk in forever and can just start off where we left off. Many people ask me how I'm able to "keep going" and I always respond "friendship!" Artist friends like Josh give me a template, a sounding board, a constant source of inspiration & solidarity. Thank you Josh! I am proud of you!
it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...to unsettle fragile masculinity 😎😎
yes my face is on a spandex bodysuit thank you very much
This Pride month I am writing love letters to queer and trans friends of color, artists and activists who typically do not get the recognition they deserve during Pride. #ReclaimPride ! These people have made me the person and artist I am today -- and I just want to take some time to celebrate them. Next up is my dear friend Ruud! Ruud (@dakishimeru ) is a Black Queer Surinamese activist currently based in Amsterdam. I first met Ruud in 2012 at a conference in Sarajevo and it was one of those encounters where we stayed up all night just talking and dancing and talking and dancing. Since then I have seen them every year when I'm touring through Amsterdam and spending time together is so precious and memorable and delightful. Ruud's analysis is so crucial in a world that constantly attempts to copy and paste US racial justice politics everywhere else. His experiences and work directly implicate Dutch (settler) colonialism and how white supremacy operates in Holland (often by offering a 'color blind' approach domestically while simultaneously condemning the US for being racist). He has taught me so much about Dutch politics, nationalism, and systems of oppression. Ruud always says, "I'm not an activist! I'm not" but once you get her speaking she let's you know how it is! He is always reading, learning, and unlearning -- always thinking of how to support all marginalized peoples with actions and not just words. Ruud is such a loyal friend -- whenever we are out together he always goes out of his way to make sure that I'm safe. And I feel it in my bones. It's not just lip service -- I know he would defend me and always have my back (and I the same). We always just have so much fun together! Giggling, dancing, joking, eating! When I'm around him I feel like I can breathe -- like I don't have to perform, like I don't have to be perfect, like our friendship is unconditional and buoyant. Ruud is many things in the world: brilliant, beautiful, powerful, fierce -- but to me he is just such a good friend and it's so delightful to spend time together. I am so proud of all that you are Ruud!!
LOOKING BACK / LOOKING FORWARD Performance begins on the divine stage, A character walks in, disguised and mystical. No face, no gender, no label, no state, In the rhythmic movement narrating a fable. • • • The most awaited collaboration with @alokvmenon, gender non conforming writer, educator and performance artist. Our conversations led us to create a stage to raise bigger questions about identity and self, about what you see in the mirror vs. what you see inside. And, while we nod, reject and get entertained during the play, what is it that we take along and what do we leave behind? Play goes live. Watch and decide. ------------------------------------- Concept by @ghostofkanye and @straystylecat Styling and creative direction by @straystylecat | Photography by @abhinavanguria | MUA/H by @roro_love_makeup | Costume by @the_world_of_nabi |
Brussels! There are still some tickets left for my show on Tuesday June 20! Get yours and spread the word! (Link in bio) 😘
thank you for having me last night paris. thank you for needing me and letting me need you back. i needed to scream yesterday. i was hurting, i was scared, i was lonely. and you let me be all of those things -- all of the things that i am. thank you for that. see you soon, amsterdam.
#Repost @instagram ・・・ “Every day I have to ask myself, ‘Am I ready to get harassed today?’” says Alok Vaid-Menon (@alokvmenon), a gender-nonconforming writer and performance artist based in New York City. “When I’m walking down the street, everyone knows I’m queer. I visibly defy what it means to be a man or a woman.” Raised in a conservative town in Texas, Alok soon realized that a refusal to choose one category to fit into meant being ostracized not only by mainstream society, but also from within the LGBTQ community. “I’ve had so many people tell me, ‘Maybe if you just took hormones or tried to look more like a woman, you wouldn’t experience so much violence,’” says Alok. “But I shouldn’t have to change what I look like to be safe.” Traveling the world as an educator and poet, Alok remains playful and upbeat, indulging in a love for fashion by taking selfies stripped down to sports bras or dolled up in frilly gowns. “I could try to disappear, to dress like a boy or a girl,” says Alok, “but this is about creating a world where when people are different, we say, ‘That’s awesome. Thank you for showing me a different way of living.’” It’s June, and in many countries that means it’s time to celebrate #Pride2017. All month long, we’ll be sharing stories from diverse LGBTQ community members from around the world, like Alok. Watch our Instagram story now to join Alok for a day leading up to a performance. Photo of @alokvmenon by @elif___kucuk
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