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EDITORIAL The Mixer Timeline

Martyr: Where Was God When I Was Raped?

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL

Martyr:

Where Was God

When I Was Raped?

After being sexually assaulted at seventeen, I sought answers about my identity, as I tried to understand what it means to be queer living with both religious and sexual trauma.

Where was

God

when I was raped?

A question I ask myself every night for two years. Having stopped believing in a God as a teenager, why was I still burdened with this existential question of spirituality?  

After being sexually assaulted at seventeen, I sought answers about my identity, as I tried to understand what it means to be queer living with both religious and sexual trauma. Becoming a self-anointed “Martyr,” I found my identity through drag, art, and my own interpretation of piety. By sharing my story, I hope to help others who have experienced similar traumas find both solace and courage to begin speaking out.

Making of a Martyr

Religious trauma is ingrained in many a queer person’s experience. Being raised Catholic myself, I knew the guilt and shame of a queer identity within the church firsthand. I was taught the horrors of Sodom and Gomorrah, punished for seeing two men being affectionate, and forced to perform corrective masculine behavior. From forcing the “swish” in my walk to disappear, or being allowed to play with G.I. Joe over Barbie, most of these punishments were subtle. The one odd example that sticks out was when I grew out my nails a bit too long. At the ripe old age of nine, my dad accused me of being a gay coke dealer due to my slightly longer pinky nail. He would then restrain me while he clipped them. What short nails teach about masculinity, I will never know. 

As I matured, I began to question the validity of these teachings, seeing the contradictions of a loving God but a punished existence. I somehow managed to cut ties as a pre-teen when I began to accept my identity as a reality.

G.I. Joe>Barbie

However, the shame of my queerness hung over me like a shadow, never allowing me to fully have the coming out experience with friends and family. This shame came to a head in my senior year of high school, as I decided to test the waters of sexual attraction and download Grindr. What started as a game of impulse and curiosity ended with ineffable damage. On November 23rd, 2012, at 12:51 pm, I was sexually assaulted in my first queer sexual experience.

I try to avoid specifics about what happened that afternoon for the sake of my own mental health. After being diagnosed with PTSD, I realized the weight of bringing up details can have on me and others who have experienced sexual assault.

Despite being a dumb horny seventeen year old, I never had any intention of meeting up with anyone on Grindr. However, one guy kept messaging me persistently for days trying to convince me to meet up with him. It was the final proposition of a threesome that eventually got me to agree against my better judgment. I thought it was the ideal way to lose my virginity and score some “cool points” with my friends. I couldn’t drive at the time, so I lied to my mom about seeing a movie with some friends and was picked up in front of my neighborhood to avoid suspicion.

(012_023) Envy, Martyrdom 2019

Risking my safety by entering a stranger’s car should have been the first warning. I was completely uneasy the second I entered his car. This stranger, a mid-thirties Naval officer, just kept feeling me up and making sexually charged comments. I was too socially awkward to say anything or stand up for myself, and began to shrink inwards. We drove for about 5 miles, reaching the home of a college-aged twink. I had briefly chatted with this twink on Grindr, so I knew that this was his parent’s home. Having to sneak around his folks, we found his bedroom and started taking our clothes off.

From here it’s a bit of a blur, the shock of being sexual with strangers mixed with my Catholic guilt paralyzed me. Physically I was there, but mentally I had shut down, going through the motions and following orders. The last thing I can remember was foreplay ending and being pinned onto the bed. I desperately asked for a condom, and both parties laughed at the thought. 

I’ve repressed those next few minutes. Eventually, the Naval officer got dressed and left in a hurry. Being stranded, the twink reluctantly offered me a ride home. While less unsettling than the first, this car ride was just as uncomfortable. The twink had told me that the Naval officer was married with a newborn, and that he had been cheating with the twink for months.

(014_023) St. Anthony of Padua Patron Saint of Lost Souls, Martyrdom 2019

I wish I had known that detail earlier, as I know I could have avoided the whole situation. Besides the physical assault, not having this information beforehand robbed me of consent, as I agreed to the threesome under false pretenses. Looking back, the whole encounter was filled with secrets and lies, which led me to get in a dangerous situation with no support.

I was in denial about the assault for over a year. My Catholic upbringing led me to believe that all homosexual encounters would be predatory and traumatic. I tried to bottle up my confusion and shock of the whole ordeal and shove it in the back of my mind with the rest of my queerness.

While very clearly traumatized, I would boast to friends how I finally lost my virginity before anyone else. I realize now this was my first time trying to rewrite my memory, to turn my shame into false confidence. I used my perception of the events to cope with the trauma, acting more and more recklessly, sleeping around with anyone who even looked my way. 

Lucky enough to survive this relatively unscathed, I finally dropped this narrative after having an argument with a former fling, in which I realized they were following in my footsteps. Expressing my concern led us to raise our voices at each other, accusing each other of acting out of character. In a moment of pure frustration to justify my actions, I blurted out,

“I was raped.” 

It was the first time I admitted it to myself, but I was robbed of this moment of clarity. My former fling had heard what I said but did not believe me. Their anger blinded them from my confession, and they mockingly called me a “martyr.”

While stunned, this was not the first time I had been labeled with this title. As a child, I would use Catholic guilt to my advantage to get out chores. My mom would lovingly call me her “little martyr.” This association first came to mind when I heard it this time, thinking my fling had used the term incorrectly.

I left immediately after this confrontation, running to the sides of friends to decompress the event. While I tried to process these new emotions and reflect on this clarity, these friends started calling me “Martyr” as a term of endearment. This comfort gave me a fondness for the title, and by adopting it, I felt I had reclaimed a term that was meant to silence me.

(007_023) Famine, Martyrdom 2019

Drag The Martyr

In the first semester of pursuing my undergraduate degree, it was a formative interaction with my Gender Theory class, where I decided to navigate my gender expression through drag performance.

I had some idea of drag, thanks to RuPaul’s Drag Race, but this was the first time it felt accessible. Far removed from my hometown, I felt comfortable addressing my personal biases and fears towards queerness.

Drag was the plunge that opened the door to acceptance, and I had already decided on my name. Using “Martyr,” I decided to add the affectation, or mispronunciation, of “tyr” to “tear,” to make it more my own and to be “crying for your sins.” While referencing my mocking title, I also used the term to reference the religious trauma that still loomed over me. Performing originally started as a personal therapy. It unbottled the pent-up shame and anger from my upbringing. Upon realizing this can be alienating for an audience, I have tried to shift focus to a collective trauma to carve out an environment where my audience can recognize their own sadness. We can share that moment together.

Since that realization, I have adopted Catholic imagery and tropes to form a digestible aesthetic and reference to my past trauma. In doing so, I created different characters under the “Martyr” name, curating stories and ideas surrounding them. This formulation originally came from the inherently repetitious nature of Catholic iconography, where symbols were repeated to show their association with a specific biblical character. One such example is the now-queer icon of St. Sebastian being pierced by arrows as a reference to his martyrdom.

In my attempts to mimic this referential nature, I would repeat outfits, makeup, looks, and allude to previous performances. Close friends picked up on it, even calling it the MCU (Martyr Cinematic Universe), but there was still a disconnect with the audience.

(020_023) St. Sebastian Patron Saint of the Holy Christian Death, Martyrdom 2019

Ultimately, I was dissatisfied with how these characters would interact, where they would live out in a fleeting moment on stage. As the expanding complex narrative story took shape within my head, I took up photography to document my performance art and my work’s overall ephemeral nature.

Capturing these moments now in a physical medium allowed me to create characters that could not physically exist on stage while also fleshing out unique scenarios for each of them. In doing so, I hope to reach a wider audience and unpack years of trauma.

(un)holy trinity

Genesis

For the past two years, I have dedicated the month of November to work on a personal project that combats both the dread around the holidays and works out emotions surrounding my sexual assault.

This year’s series, Genesis, serves as a prequel series to my first photography project Martyrdom. Shot daily in November 2019, I created twenty-three images counting down to my sexual assault anniversary.

Martyrdom served as a first attempt at capturing these ephemeral figures, with each image showing a unique character. From depictions of saints and demons to a physical manifestation of my deadly sins, the overall goal was to expand my storytelling process. For Genesis, I wanted to focus on my original three figures, the (un)holy trinity: The High Priestess, Whore of Babylon, and Martyr. These characters interest me the most as they represent the most about myself, both good and bad. Creating the scenarios of their backstory helped me unpack the trauma I knew I was holding on to.

Birth, The High Priestess,

Martyrdom 2020

Leviticus 21.9,

The Whore of Babylon,

Martyrdom 2020

Who Art in Heaven,

The Martyr,

Martyrdom 2020

The High Priestess

Dressed in all white with a red contour, the High Priestess is the closest representation to my Catholic upbringing, in the form of a feminine Pope-like ruler. She has had the biggest evolution as a character, starting as a ghostly specter in a performance about memory.

Stern in her demeanor, but physically frail, nowadays I see her as a corrupted moral authority. I took her name from the tarot card of the same name, only to realize later that it stood for secrets and the subconscious mind. This connection furthered my understanding of the religious trauma I had experienced, as I see this character as the most terrifying. For me, white has been more of a sinister color, as its perceived “purity” seems abnormal and unearthly.

When it came to live performances, I would always stand out from the dark shadows of clubs and stages with this bleak white makeup. For this series, I wanted to figure out how such a character would become so blindingly white. In her scenes, I tried to depict what I essentially call her “rebirth”, from starting as a dying husk to the eventual spiritual possession.

Contractions, The High Priestess, Martyrdom 2020

The Whore of Babylon

The Book of Revelations tells us of the inevitable apocalypse that will befall mankind. In one such forewarning, we learn of “Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth” as she sits upon a beast of seven heads. 

This figure, commonly known as “The Whore of Babylon” represents the Church’s insular infighting, depicted in the form of a feminine “harlot.” To me, the representation of women in the Bible was always degrading, with this passage being no exception: the ultimate evil and downfall of the Church appears as a sexual being. 

When I was going through my reckless phase of sexual maturity, I would use the term “whore” against myself in the same way. I was shaming myself for my sexuality while actively still participating in it. When I eventually reclaimed “martyr,” I felt the same treatment was due to my own derogatory title.

Our Father, Martyrdom 2020

Dressed in all black and with a mask in the shape of a bat, my version of the Whore differs from the Biblical description. I wanted her to be an almost stereotypical form of a demon or gothic character, to serve as a foil to the High Priestess. I do not see her as an evil character, rather a tragic one, with her lack of sight to display her lack of faith. 

For this series, I wanted to show her downfall from the Church. Echoing my own experience, she finds herself drawn into temptation and then humiliated for it. 

Martyr

The Martyr’s physical depiction is the least seen in the series: only shown aiding the High Priestess in her ailing health, and later as a stand-alone portrait. I purposely chose to underrepresent her, as I see her as more of an idea than the other two. The term “Martyr” can be applied to either of the other figures, as it is a title rather than a name. Like the series before it, Genesis is a collection of black and white photography with the color red isolated. While it is my favorite color, I find it most representative of “martyrs” in general. More than any other trait, red ties the characters together, whether it depicts blood, passion, or life.

Splintering my lived experience into these separate characters has helped me cope with what has happened. While I realize I am rewriting my own narrative, I do so to produce creativity and, hopefully, invite the same collective mourning I created through my performances.

trauma is my muse

Conclusion

My story is all too familiar. Working in nightlife, I have had too many instances of fellow performers, friends, and complete strangers coming up to me to share something similar that happened to them.

I always try to thank them for being open with me, as I realize the strength it takes to put those feelings into words. I try not to say “survivor” or “brave” when talking about sexual assault, as I believe these terms perpetuate the narrative that sexual assault is not uncommon. Speaking out and defending those who have dealt with assault should not be given noteworthy attention, as this continues the sensationalizing of victimhood. I ask for you who normalize dealing with this trauma not to call me a survivor – but to listen to those who speak out.

So where was God when I was sexually assaulted? At this point in my life, I don’t care. I put that anger beside me. I split my emotions from both my religious and sexual trauma to reflect and move on. In some ways, this trauma is my muse, but she no longer has the emotional weight over me.

I’ve reclaimed my martyrdom, and she is purely mine.


NOTE: All of the photos featured in the article and on the artist’s website/social media are for sale as 5×7 prints, at $10 each.

20% of the sales will go towards RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) nonprofit organization (prints must be bought before 11-30-20).

You may place your orders HERE.


Genesis 2020

Contractions

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Crowning

Birth

Jude 1.7

Our Father

Who Art In Heaven

Revelations 17.9

Leviticus 21.9


Martyrdom 2019

(001_023) Martyr

(002_023) Whore of Babylon

(003_023) High Priestess

(004_023) Baptism

(005_023) Communion

(006_023) Confirmation

(007_023) Famine

(008_023) War

(009_023) Pestilence

(010_023) Death

(011_023) Lust

(012_023) Envy

(013_023) Pride

(014_023) St. Anthony of Padua Patron Saint of

Lost Souls

(015_023) St. Jude the Apostle Patron Saint of Lost Causes

(016_023) St. Agricola of Avignon Patron Saint

of Plague

(017_023) St. Bibiana of Rome Patron Saint of Mental Illness

(018_023) St. Mary Magdalene Patron Saint of Sexual Temptation

(019_023) St. Agatha of Sicily Patron Saint of the Assaulted

(020_023) St. Sebastian Patron Saint of the Holy Christian Death

(021_023) St. Lucia of Syracuse Patron Saint of Martyrs

(022_023) St. Stephen The First Martyr

(023_023).jpg

Martyr

Photographer/Drag Artist

Categories
EDITORIAL The Mixer Timeline

Trans Women Blossoming

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL

Trans Women Blossoming

“The journey of a Trans Woman is at first internal. She has to come to terms with who she is at the core. “

Miami-born, Bushwick-based photographer and artist Adam Ross (they/them) met Alex, an Ivorian born Trans model, actress, writer and activist at one of the rallies held on the Christopher Street pier; Adam reached out to her about collaborating on a shoot. “She responded with a beautiful idea,” says Adam, who also goes by Gaystrychef, their IG moniker, ”she wanted to embody the idea of Trans Women blossoming into their true selves.” Adam says that Alex also had the idea of including Jael, a Brooklyn-born Trans Person, into the shoot.

Adam continues: “The three of us met at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and spent a beautiful afternoon shooting in and around the flowers. We talked about how as queers, the idea of community is so vital to us all, and how we need to always stand up for each other when facing hatred and oppression. The experience of Trans Black women specifically is one that people need to witness and share, which that day it was my honor to do; I’m incredibly proud of the work that Alex, Jael, and I created together, and of how much of themselves they put into it.

In Our Own Words

Alex and Jael’s portraits by Adam give us a glimpse into the beautiful moments that may come with rebirth, like the evolution of self, love of yourself and the love for others. In Alex and Joel’s own words:

The life expectancy of Trans Women of color is only 35 years old. There is an urge to improve this statistic drastically. As a marginalized group of people, Trans Women of color especially are taught self-hatred from a very young age. We are indoctrinated into the belief that transgenderism is unnatural and ungodly. 

These seeds are planted in the heart of an innocent child whose life experiences are set to be limited and deprived of joy and happiness with thyself. 

Hate and intolerance coming from the external world will only exacerbate one’s negative life experiences. Such negative feelings and deeds are rooted in ignorance, obsolete religious beliefs, and a lack of compassion and kindness in this perfectly imperfect world. 

Trans people are history.

We’ve existed since the dawn of times through different cultures and throughout the world. From the Fa’afafine (boys raised as girls) in Samoa, to the Two-Spirit people (male-bodied with a female gender or female-bodied with a male gender) in Native American culture.

We are not going anywhere. Black Trans People are expected to Dislike themselves, their history, and their legacy. Not today, Not tomorrow, Not Next Year… WE ARE HERE! And we’ve always been.

This photoshoot at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden was inspired from the concept of Trans Women blossoming into their True, authentic selves. The journey of a Trans Woman is at first internal. She has to come to terms with who she is at the core. Internally, She has to align the truth of her heart with her testosterone-induced brain. The Trans Woman experiences anxieties at different levels varying from one individual to the other. These are mainly focused but not only limited to the matter of misgendering, on a daily basis by folks that aren’t fully aware of her inner gender identity. Medical transition comes into place to alleviate such anxieties and relieve the Trans Woman of a weight She no longer needs to carry: The man She knew She wasn’t.

Once She blossoms into her True self, the Trans Woman is ready to fully live her life like the woman She was always meant to be.”

Is an Ivorian-born Trans model, actress, writer and activist. She’s a firm believer that Trans women need to not merely survive, but to thrive, just like other women. Her creative work includes producing and celebrating Queer Arts as a Whole. She’s also invested in HIV/AIDS advocacy and writing. Her writing has the ultimate goal of educating non-LGBTQ+ people and allies on LGBTQ+ issues and challenges needing to be addressed for change. Her writing also has healing purposes pertaining to her personal journey toward self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-love. She uses her own life experience and lessons learned along the way as a canvas to inspire, empower, and ignite courage in others to live their authentic lives with fierce passion, joy, and happiness.

A Brooklyn-born Trans Person, drowned in traditions of Conditioning that no longer serves her or US in the “The New Earth,” has chosen to live OUT LOUD. She is in essence and aroma, Divine Feminine Energy. She understands the significance of Black History as well as Trans/Two-Spirited/LGBTQ+ culture. Her drive and inspiration is her Mother and all the female figures who represent women’s empowerment. She’s on a journey of discovery and mastery of her TRANS LIFE.

gaystrychef
Adam Ross

Photographer

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EDITORIAL Timeline

Dèvo Monique: Dear White People

EDITORIAL

Dèvo Monique: Dear White People

NYC-based Black drag performer Dèvo Monique addresses Black queerness in relationship to the NYC nightlife scene, the BLM movement, and white society.

Photography: James Thompson

It’s not a surprise that many New Yorkers fled the city as soon as they got a whiff of the looming pandemic and the stay-at-home orders that followed. Many creatives and people working in the nightlife industry opted to stay with their families in other states while coronavirus ravaged The Big Apple. It’s still uncertain how many people will be able to return and resume their home and work lives, even as NYC cases have significantly slowed and the city is in the fourth phase of its reopening. At this point it’s anyone’s guess what the landscape of nightlife and freelance work will look like in the future, even after a vaccine becomes available and New York City’s economy returns to “normal.” 

One of those creatives is NYC’s drag artist Eugene, who prefers to go by her drag moniker Dèvo Monique. Dèvo has been waiting out the pandemic with her family in Virginia. Even though she wasn’t physically present in NYC when the unrest over George Floyd’s murder started erupting, she and fellow activist Ickarus served as organizing and guiding voices for those who were on the ground, Sidewalkkilla included. Within a matter of a day after the first protests, the duo organized a chat group that enlisted over 100 people exchanging tips and information on the events happening in the city. A few days later Dèvo reached out to let us know that she had partnered up with RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 alumni Honey Davenport and drag artist and political figure Marti Gould Cummings to change the whitewashed landscape of New York City’s nightlife for good.

Drag Saved My Life

Growing up in Richmond, Virginia, Dèvo never really felt like she belonged: “I grew up as a dancer and I was dancing professionally until 21. I grew up combating the world of Virginia which on one side was very forward-thinking and very artistically forward, but then you had people who were throwing textbooks at you every other day and calling you a fag.”

Dèvo Monique was born in the local Richmond drag scene, but yet she also felt like she didn’t belong. As a drag performer, Dèvo always felt the pressure of presenting something she was not,

“I was never going to be a Virginia pageantry queen, and not that I don’t respect those queens or love that kind of drag, I was just never that girl that they were trying to make me out to be.”

When Dèvo made a debut in the NYC drag scene, she claims that it saved her art, and drag itself saved her life. When Dèvo’s career as a professional dancer ended and she felt that she was hung up in the space of not knowing what the future held. Upon moving to NYC in 2017, Dèvo was approached by a drag queen named Heaven-Leigh Kennedy, after dancing her heart out at a local bar.

“She was like, you’re really good and she would not take no for an answer. I tell you, I turned her down seven times and she was like, just let me know when you want to perform and I sat on it for about a week and then I messaged her and I was like, I’m going to come in. I went to sort of like an amateur competition show and I won and that was it. That checkmarked everything. It brought everything together and it just made sense. I finally started to make sense and I made sense most when I’m in drag, that’s what I mean when I say drag saved my life.”

Blackness Does Not Look Better on a White Person

Even though Dèvo was well on her way to finding her voice and aesthetics as a drag performer, it turned out to be a little harder to carve out a space in Manhattan’s gay nightlife, where white queens ruled. “So I was working this party as a host at this bar and I was really excited because it was my night and they put my name on a poster. But I got inside and I was like, oh, I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that, and they were like, no you can’t do any of that. They said, you can’t perform this kind of song, you have to perform top 40 songs and if you are not going to wear this next week, you are not going to be able to do this party again. They tokenized me as just having a Black queen and didn’t give me any right to really perform what I wanted to perform. It really irked me because I really thought I was making it through and I really thought a lot was changing for me, but it didn’t. And they told my DJ, ‘Can you play something more top 40?’ And I was like, ‘You mean white music?’ And the bartender just laughed and shook his head and I was like, why is that normalized?”

“What’s really wild to me is I will never understand how a bar will have a happy-hour show and have a night show and that happy-hour show will have all white queens and that night show will have all white queens and then that bar will only have a Black queen that works there once a month,”

Dèvo continues,

“And then she does it once a month and the day she works is not a Saturday or a Friday.”

Dèvo feels that Manhattan’s gay nightlife has been appropriating Black culture and being celebrated for it for way too long. “White people really think Blackness looks better on them. It really kind of irks me when I see white queens getting tipped all this fucking money because they do a Nicki Minaj or a Doja Cat song and a Black girl does it and does it 20 million times better and they’re like, oh but you’re expected to do that because you’re Black. Blackness does not look better on a white person. It does not exist. You can’t tell me that what I invented myself and what my ancestors invented will literally look better on you, because you want to try it on.”

Dear White People

Within the first week of the NYC protests, Dèvo partnered up with drag personas Honey Davenport, and Marti Gould Cummings, to have every New York bar take the pledge to be truly inclusive in their staffing. “I would literally like every single bar to have at least someone Black who is producing or putting a show cast together. Every bar needs to have a Black bartender. Every bar needs to book multiple Black DJs, multiple people of color working. That’s what I want to see. I want to see true inclusion. I want to see true accountability, because white people, as much as they want to believe it, as much as they are learning and watching Pose or whatever documentary on Netflix, to learn, they are never going to have the knowledge to understand what it takes to be a Black person, so hire a Black person.”

“When you don’t

invest in the people that are making up

the world around you, you are

silencing voices”

“I got really good advice from a queen once – she told me, it’s your job to know who everybody is. It’s your job to know what girls in Manhattan and what girls in Queens are working and how to know what they’re doing and I feel like bartenders and bar managers and producers are not taking that job as seriously as people of color are taking that job, because I know damn well, there are a lot of Black queens that know the bars just as well as I do. I can tell you what is happening on Sunday at every single bar. It’s important to know, so you can know who’s in your community, so you can have access to the full array of what your community can offer and so you can build a better community for everyone and for everyone to not only feel included but to feel accepted and to feel like their lives really do matter and their voice really matters. Because when you don’t invest in the people that are making up the world around you, you are silencing voices. How are you going to listen to something that you don’t know exists? How are you going to speak up for it? How are you going to integrate it and make sure it’s executed properly? How are you going to book it in your bar? It’s a trickle-down effect.”

Black Trans Lives Matter

In the midst of the national protests over the strangulation video of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, another video surfaced from the same city, only of a different nature. A mob of Black people attacked Iyanna Dior, a 21-year-old Black trans woman, at a Twin Cities gas station. The video sparked nationwide debates over the inclusion of Black trans and Black LGBTQ lives into the Black Lives Matter movement. Less than two weeks later, around 15,000 people showed up in solidarity with Black trans lives at a Brooklyn Liberation March

In a short video posted on Twitter, trans entertainer and LGBT activist Ts Madison voices her concerns over the lack of support for Black trans people within the cis Black community: “With me even not feeling included, I know it is my duty still to stand up for Black lives, Black lives protests and movements because I’m Black first. Now the thing that hurts me the most is, I gotta face white supremacy from the white man, then I gotta turn around and face hatred from my own Black. I think what people don’t understand with trans women is that it’s hard and it gets more and more difficult when each year two, three, four of us are being killed in one year and no one is really speaking up for us, or standing up for us, or protesting for us the way that they are. You know, cuz when Trayvon Martin died, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, I’m forward, using my voice to talk about this stuff you know, but if the tables were turned, there is that question, would they do this for me?”

Hate towards the most marginalized groups of people doesn’t only happen from outside of its community, but also within. It’s not a secret that there has always been a lot of tension between white gay men and trans women of color. Didn’t trans women of color birth the gay scene? So where is that disrespect coming from? “Entitlement and privilege,” Dèvo says, ”We would be nothing without Sylvia Rivera, we would be nothing without Marsha P Johnson. There would literally not be any of these bars and establishments to go to. There’s just so much disdain and disrespect when it comes to trans people and trans lives that I’m really kind of disheartened and always mind-boggled by the way that hate is executed out in such a free manner.”

So how can we change that? Dèvo thinks that the answer is simple: we can change by educating and listening, “I think people think it’s such a huge math equation they need to figure out and you just need to listen to trans people and just listen to what they want. For a long time trans women, trans men, and trans individuals have been seen as crazy or have been seen as ‘you just got here, you just came here’ and it’s like, girl, they’ve been here as long as you’ve been here. And also the inventions that trans women have created are always undercut by their white counterparts of either gay men or cis people who take it over because they want to feel entitled. Like the Ballroom culture, has hugely, hugely been infiltrated by white people now to the point where gay white men are at the club trying to do hand performance to a fucking Lady Gaga track and act like they invented that shit and it’s like, no, that’s not the tea.”

Do You Have Real Black Friends?

Dèvo believes that Blackness and queerness shouldn’t be mutually exclusive, “My drag is very queer and I don’t think the references like that are afforded to Black queers or are necessarily based on the idea of queerness, it’s more based on the idea of Blackness, and I think sometimes Blackness can be very anti-queer and we don’t realize it because it’s also just so angry. But I’m a queen who mixes Blackness and queerness. And people don’t always really want to fuck with a queer part of it… I love Being black. I love my Blackness, I really discovered my Blackness heavy in the last seven years of my life by really recognizing what my culture means and what it really represents in me, but in that it was so tensed up and unhinged, because there was a lot of anti-queerness in it. And it gave me a lot of mixed emotions. So relating that to drag, where white people have a view of one drag queen and they want that one drag queen to be the same because that’s the only way they can relate to you and relate to your art, because if they don’t they would have to combat the ideas inside themselves of why they can’t relate to your art and what they’re actually exposed to and wonder if they’re exposed to it enough. And they would really have to do their homework to understand it. And white people never want to do their homework to understand anyone besides themselves. That’s something that goes into all cultures and all art forms and that’s wild.”

“There are coons who get next to white people to kind of bleed off the access or the accessibility of what they can acquire for them,” Dèvo continues, “and I think there’s a lot of white people who feed off that energy and feel good about themselves because, ‘I’m not racist. I have one Black friend and he tells me I’m great.’ And I’m like, yeah, but do you have real Black friends who are really into Black culture and speak their Black culture on a daily basis that you’re not listening to? … And I think it’s also a thing where they don’t know how to relate to Black people because they choose the kind of Black people they want to be friends with because it’s only palatable enough for them to understand. And they don’t want to hear it, because if it’s not palatable enough to hear, they’re not interested. If they don’t get it, they can remove themselves from it. And that’s the beauty of their privilege, and they fully access it when and however they want to.”

“Freedom” Music Video Premiere (SWK Exclusive)

Alexey Kim

Founder

Categories
Videos

Conversations: What Are We Doing To Protect Black Trans Women? (Part II)

Categories
EDITORIAL Timeline

Living In A Dangerous Body, Or What Are We Doing To Protect Black Trans Women? (Part II)

EDITORIAL | CONVERSATIONS


Living In A Dangerous Body,

Or What Are We Doing To Protect Black Trans Women?

(Part II)

Conversations is a series of stories involving heart-to-heart talks that touch upon provocative subjects and bring them to life.

Remy Black is a drag performer, singer and a black trans woman. In the first part of our Conversations we spoke to Remy about religion and spirituality, the culture of drag, creating spaces for trans women and the reality of “living in a dangerous body.”

In the second part of our sit-down discussion we touched upon many other sensitive subjects seen through Remy’s eye, like her journey towards becoming a sex worker, her dreams and goals on becoming an artists, on realizing her trans identity, and who should be given the microphone to speak on behalf of their community.

On Sex Work

SWK: You told me you’re a sex worker because you chose to be, but there are also very minimal options for trans women to find work. What kind of experience did you have with that?

Remy: So I was pursuing a PhD, prior to transitioning, in Clinical Psychology. I had gone through some life circumstances, I was basically really smart. The most reasonable thing for me to do would be to pursue a career in academia and secure that bag. So I applied to PhD programs. I ended up going to WVU – they were paying me to go there. When I started transitioning, I realized that being a trans woman in the profession that I have chosen, was definitely not going to work. I’m dealing with people and I’m dealing with people’s emotional vulnerabilities. People are already coming with assumptions about trans people and so I was censored and it was basically advised that I present male at all times, and this is while I was on hormones literally growing tits, right?

So I’m sitting here, growing these tits and these people made me work in a prison, and they were like:

“You have to dress like a dude there.”

But nobody was convinced, and all the inmates just wanted to fuck me and it was just like this weird thing.

I am kind of a hermit. I don’t leave my home unless I need to because I don’t like to deal with the people out there. Everywhere I go they either are trying to fuck me or they are trying to clock me, some of them are trying to get violent. People fucking misgender me all day. And it’s just really fucking annoying. So then you have that mixed into a professional setting, when I’m trying to make my money and it’s just like too much to deal with. So could I go get a job at H&M? Yeah, probably. But I’ll be misgendered all day. How many people do I encounter at a fucking retail job, like maybe a couple hundred people a day or something? Most of those people, if they’re not queer, they don’t have contacts for trans identity. So existing in that is really difficult, so I choose not to.

I also am able to make a decent amount of money doing what I do and you know, there’s options for trans women with desirable bodies, and I happen to be one of those people and I’m also a very sexually liberated person.

So, I don’t fucking care, yeah I’ll do porn, yeah I’ll suck your dick, yeah I’ll fucking, you know, dick this dude down. You’re giving me $300? Yeah I’ll fuck you and then I’ll go about my business. Right? So, you know, I’ll probably see a client today. Maybe I’ll make a hundred fifty. Maybe I’ll make $300 today. That’s an hour of my time. And then that’s it. You’re not making $300 today [speaking to me]. And so I can basically live the life that allows me to experience less transmisogynistic violence both in physical and spiritual and metaphysical ways.

On Being An Artist

Remy: But you know, that’s not my long-term goal this year specifically. I am intending upon being recognized as an artist outside of just a drag career, outside of my body and sex.

So I have a couple things on the books this year that I’m really fucking pumped about.

So, HBO is doing this documentary called Wigstock. There was a former Wigstock documentary made back in 1994 when Lady Bunny did the first festival. And so they wanted to revisit the drag community in Brooklyn and show like the evolution of drag through this community specifically. And they chose a couple people to follow in this documentary. And one of those people is my friend Charlene.

She’s a writer. She’s a drag queen, she’s a thinker, a really powerful figure in the Brooklyn queer community, definitely. And she has been doing it for quite some time. So like 2014 maybe.

So, the documentary will feature her and her work in her community. And being someone who’s been best friends with her for like a decade now, our stories are intertwined in a lot of ways that were relevant to this film and some of that was highlighted and put into the film. As well as some of my performance, some of me talking and dancing and shit. So I’m going to be in the HBO documentary, that is probably going to be a pretty seminal piece of drag film work. You know, we have Paris Is Burning, the original Wigstock. It was directed by Chris Moukarbel who just did Lady Gaga’s Five Foot Two and won a Golden Globe for that. So this is his next project. And funny enough he and I, and Charlene really, met through the connection to the Tennessee queer community that I was telling you about. So it’s just like this weird small little family. So that’s on the horizon.

I will maybe be doing this off-Broadway situation, this queer production of Hair the musical, which would give the world an opportunity to hear my voice, and bitch that’s all I fucking need. That’s all I fucking need – is an opportunity for the world to hear my voice. And then I’m also working on producing some of my own music. So I’m working on transitioning out of sex work and drag. Not transitioning out of, but more so expanding my repertoire. It would be nice to be known as a musical performance artist and not just a voice on Facebook or a drag queen in Miami.

Who Are We Giving The Microphone To?

Remy: There’s been some news publications about the Miami queer scene, you know, that have had a bunch of the young drag queens talk about gender and talking about their scene and whatever, and I see these lines getting crossed, right? These 18-, 19-year-olds, 20-, 21-year-old kids, because of their social media followings, are being viewed and positioned as leaders in discourse on trans identity and on gender and I’m like. Okay. Okay. I’ve literally written research papers at the PhD level on this. You know what I’m saying?

So it is really weird for me to have these kids on the cover of magazines. You know what I’m saying? People don’t understand why that frustrates me and then they see my outrage and they are saying, why is she always mad. I’m not mad, I’m really not, I think that we just need to be careful. That’s all, because there’s national attention to…

SWK: Who we are giving the microphone to, and who we are giving voice to.

Remy: Who we are giving the microphone to. Exactly. That’s all, that’s all. Are we giving the voice to any black people? Are we giving the microphone to any sex workers? Those are two communities that, of course, I rally for, because I’m a member of them. 

SWK: Well, this is exactly why I wanted to give you the microphone.

Remy: Thank you and I’m glad that you did.

On Realizing Her Trans Identity

Remy: And you know what, one of the greatest ironies in life is that as long as heterosexuals keep producing children, which they will, because they believe that that is their purpose in life, they will continue to produce queer people, period. Like, homosexuals are made from straight people or from people that need to be straight at least. At the very end of the day as long as you continue to produce life, you will produce it with all of the complexities of life. The sooner that we can come to appreciate that… And I’ve had to learn to appreciate that within myself and I think that a lot of my own understanding of my trans identity comes from an attempt to hold space for all of the dynamics of my being.

When I say that I’m a woman, you know, sometimes I don’t really have a clear idea of what that means. Other than that I had actively engaged in the process of revolting against the manhood and the assumptions of maleness that I was born into, but what it doesn’t mean is that I’m invested in the traditional gender roles or understandings of womanhood as it is dictated by cis-normative society.

I’m not trying to affirm the binary, but I am trying to affirm the fact that I am claiming space as a woman, you know what I mean? I’m not doing that temporarily, I’ve been doing that for years now and I’m going to continue to do that going forward.

SWK: How did you come down to that realization?

Remy: It was a process honey, I’ll tell you literally what happened. I was watching Charlene Incarnate in Brooklyn, New York on acid going into 2016 right? I was on this heavy fucking trip cuz that was my first time in a queer community, ever. I’d been to a gay bar, but I’d never seen a queer community. I’ve seen queer people. But not the whole gathering of them and it was in Charlene’s home, which was a very large space. And so I’m like, you know helping my friend get ready for her show, and I was like helping as a part of her number. She was doing this number called “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” But it was done by Natalie Cole instead of The Beatles and so I had this light that I was shining on her – it was a spotlight.

In the beginning there’s this monologue and it goes:

“As we continue along on our time machine, we pass the many different eras of time. Times when ladies were very very special, like Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, Venus the goddess of love, and who do we have for the future? You’ll never, ever guess.”

And then the number starts.

*Remy starts singing

“Picture yourself in Nevada.”

And it’s like the whole gag, at least the way that she played it. I understood, because I know her and I also am intuitive. I’m like, she’s announcing herself as what we have for the future and in a trans body. She’s making a statement about trans women being that woman who we have for the future and she’s positioning herself in the narrative of a trans woman.

So then when I also came to my trans identity it was kind of the same thing. I was like, oh there’s layers to this shit. So not only I’m a cocksucker, I’m also not a man. Well that makes sense, you know what I mean? So then it was like.

“Well, I don’t know, is my cocksucking that strange or is that just something that girls do? Girls like to suck dick, girls like dudes, I like dudes.”

My concept, my queerness evolved with every layer that unfolds. And I’m probably still discovering the truth of who I am daily. Like I learn new things about myself, I unlearn habits and I am just trying to live as honestly and as authentically as possible and I try to be considerate of others. I think it’s important to know your truth and to live your truth and to broadcast your truth, but I also think it is important to be considerate of where other people are.

On Seign Beyond The Veil

I think that without a real-life spiritual commitment outside of this scene, outside of that, is really difficult to really progress beyond the veil, right? Because you’re really still plugged into the immediacy of the community and the moment that you are experiencing. For some who have professions within the community, then that gets tied up with monetary gain and capitalism, and then we get back to recreating those structures that really, we are trying to break apart, but it’s because the foundation isn’t there.

It can’t just be about

“I want to be able to wear whatever I want.”

It has to really be on an empathic level,

“I want to take on the role to be, essentially the villain of society, to troll all of these concepts, to break all of them down.”

And I know that that is dangerous, but I’m making it my life’s work. Not just because I want to be cool, not just because it’s fun, but because I’m trying to better the future for the kids, for the world. Do you know what I mean? To make more space. So when I look at somebody in the scene, I’m always assessing, like are you trying to be cool and famous or are you trying to change the world? Who knows? And it’s a process.

SWK: To me you seem very liberated and open and you’re very, obviously, intelligent about realizing your path and how you’re living your life. Why didn’t you just pretend to be straight and you know, please your parents, live by what the community wants from you?

*Remy laughs

Remy: Do the thing, right? Be in the box.

It’s just I never had any other desire than to be honest with myself. I’ve only ever wanted to be me as authentically as possible. That’s always been important.

If you would like to support Remy on her journey, you can donate to her Patreon account here. Please support, protect, speak up for and cherish our trans sisters of color.

Alexey Kim

Founder

Categories
EDITORIAL Timeline

Living In A Dangerous Body, Or What Are We Doing To Protect Black Trans Women? (Part I)

EDITORIAL | CONVERSATIONS


Living In A Dangerous Body,

Or What Are We Doing To Protect Black Trans Women?

(Part I)

Conversations is a series of stories involving heart-to-heart talks that touch upon provocative subjects and bring them to life.

Conversations project started about a year ago with a very uncomfortable situation, that became a learning experience, when I attended my first drag party in Miami. I took photos of a trans woman, named Remy Black, who performed in the nude and got them published on an online queer blog without asking her permission. She reached out to me the next day and asked to have a conversation about consent. I was mortified, but the way that Remy approached the situation was very mature, and we resolved the conflict in a matter of minutes.

At that time, I had no idea why, but I asked Remy to do an interview with me next time I would be visiting Miami. I sort of liked having an open discussion about “an uncomfortable subject” with a stranger.

I felt that both of us were more open with each other, as our purpose wasn’t to make a first good impression; it was rather about sharing how we really feel about a situation.

We talked for about an hour, about everything queer and trans related, and it felt so right. It felt nice to hear and be heard, not to judge or be judged. I learned a great deal on the subject of what it is to be a trans woman of color – and I thought that I already knew a great deal about it. I found that the information Remy presented to me made me understand things so much better on a human-to-human basis.

In this conversation Remy gives us a glimpse into the reality of being in a “dangerous body,” as she refers to it.

Religion & Spirituality

I arrived at Remy’s house in Miami in the early afternoon. I was a bit nervous, as the last time we spoke was when I was confronted with posting her nude photos online without her consent. After a couple of unanswered calls, she finally picks up the phone and says she is going to be right out. One minute later, she opens the door of her front gate and greets me with the brightest, widest smile: “Hi! Welcome to the House of Cummies!” She gives me a quick tour around her property with a large front, side, and backyard, while explaining that all three people who live here (including herself) are sex workers, hence the House of Cummies name. She takes me through the back of the house to her kitchen, gives me a glass of water filled with ice, and proceeds to give me a tour of the house, which ends in her room. “I lived on this couch for months before I was able to move into this room and now look how fucking cute it is!,” she exclaims. Her room is very cute indeed – it is neat, everything has its own place. I notice a Buddha statue: “Are you into?..”

Remy: I studied traditional Tibetan Buddhism for three years. I took my bodhisattva vows, I was on my way to be a monk, that’s a whole other story – do I consider myself a practicing Buddhist? No, not really.

SWK: What made you change your mind?

Remy: I found that the flaws that I find in most organized religions were still inherent in Buddhism, the way that they stratify gender, how I was being taught, where I was being taught… It was not in line with commitments to my own self and to my own truth, so it felt at times like I was allowing another system to take control over the way that I express and understand myself. In Tibetan Buddhism, specifically, it’s very rigid. When most people think of Buddhism, they think, “Oh prayer and meditation and monk shit.” When you get into Tibetan Buddhism you are heavily involved in ritual, and at the position that I was in as an ordained bodhisattva, I had a lot of expectations and commitments and responsibilities that I quite frankly wasn’t ready to uphold. I found that I was using that path as a way of escaping from the parts of reality that I didn’t enjoy.

Drag Culture: Perception VS Reality

Remy: But yeah, I got my own vanity set up, my butters and my oils, all these spaces have      different intentions, like this is my sex space, because I’m a sex worker.

SWK: “What about this?” I point at a microphone sitting on a windowsill. “Do you sing?”

Remy: I am a singer. Singing is actually my primary talent, it’s my first talent, it’s my best talent. It’s what I want to be famous for. But somehow I found myself doing drag, now I’m this drag queen and recently I sort of made an announcement that I am done doing drag and it was mostly because I don’t like the culture of drag, I really don’t like being associated with it.

SWK: Why is that?

“…My access point

to a queer identity

is not so much

about the fact

that I suck cock,

as much as it is the fact

that I am black.”

Remy: I love doing drag, I think drag is a really powerful performance art and I love that it’s an avenue for really anyone to have a moment on a stage to do whatever it is that they want to do.

When I think of drag I think of open-ended performance art and expression, and I really enjoy that. There’s a culture of drag around the country that has been influenced by the way that RuPaul’s Drag Race has shaped our understanding of what drag is and who gets to do drag, what is qualified as good drag versus bad drag.

That influences, then, the mentality of the audience and what they are expecting to see from drag. So in South Florida you have a large culture of battle drag. It’s these lip-sync battles and, you know, a lot of the drag queens are very young, they are kids. They are 21, 22, and I’m 29 years old. I’m going to be 30 in a month. It felt weird to be in the position in my life where I’m almost 30 competing against 20-year-old kids lip-syncing to pop songs. That’s not what I do, that’s not what I like to do, that’s not the kind of performer that I am. I would much prefer to sing Nina Simone songs all day.

Not that I don’t like pop songs, but I think that there is a drive towards what is relevant, or perceived as relevant culturally, to the young queer community, and I find myself just uninterested in most of that, because my access point to a queer identity is not so much about the fact that I suck cock, as much as it is the fact that I am black.

More than even being a trans woman, my queerness has always started at being a black person, and so when I see queer communities built around this nebulous word “queer,” I’m like, what does that mean? And why do I have to sign up and subscribe to your definition of “queer,” if your definition of “queer” includes people that are my oppressors?

Gender Identity

SWK: Why do you think people generally want to put everything into a box?

Remy: I think it helps to know who your community is and who you’re aligning yourself with and who your oppressors are and who your companions are.

SWK: Talking to you right now just confirms that in our generation, there is more to it than just putting something in a box and compartmentalizing it. I think there are more blurred lines at the moment and people are understanding that it’s ok to have these blurred lines and it’s ok not to belong to a certain box, even if you are a queer person.

Remy: I think it’s wonderful to live at a time when people are expressing themselves in ways that defy the boxes that we’ve been conditioned to go into. Exploration is fun and creative and can be really spiritually enriching, but I think that, at times, there is an urgency to feel the need to redefine yourself, even if that redefinition is “I don’t go by any labels.” And so I feel, in a lot of ways, that this rise of the queer community is really sometimes enmeshed with the privilege to be able to explore gender in this way which isn’t a reality for everyone.

“…I don’t have access to male privilege and that’s what being a woman means to me.”

There are certain spaces in which it’s safer to explore gender identity than it is in other spaces. For those who don’t have access to safe spaces to explore identity, I feel like it’s nice that these people have access to the resources and communities to explore their gender in these ways and then go back after the night is finished and assume whatever gender identity is convenient for their day life.

I don’t mean for my statements to ever invalidate non-binary identity, because in ways I understand myself in that context, but I am a woman, and so it’s been challenging for me to be able to say, “No, I’m not exploring my gender.”

I mean, I guess we all are, but I am a woman, I am a trans woman, I am a woman who has a penis, I am a woman who has a natural estrogen deficiency. And so when people see me and my association with queerness or queer nightlife or drag, my identity becomes associated with this queer clusterfuck thing happening, “Oh you’re a drag queen? Cool, so what’s your boy name?” Like no no no, I’m a woman.

My name is Remy Black, period. Sometimes I get onstage and I sing, sometimes I get onstage and I lip sync, sometimes I dance, sometimes I drink coffee, but at all times my name is Remy Black and I’m a woman. So, you know, it’s not so much that I feel some sort of way about people explain their gender identities in whatever ways they choose.

It’s just that some people assume womanhood for a moment in time that is fun or cute in whatever ways they think of being a woman is, and then they go back to not holding or claiming that identity, and that to me is just something that I don’t understand.

I don’t understand, because I don’t have access to male privilege, and that’s what being a woman means to me. And so when people assume that I have the ability to do that when my reality is really different, it’s a little frustrating.

And so my desire to distance myself from the queer community doesn’t come from disliking the queer community. It comes from not wanting my womanhood to be compromised or invalidated by my association with queers.

Dangerous Body

SWK: So that event that brought us together…

You performed. Your performance was so fucking powerful, and then at the end when you took off all your clothes and you just stood there, for me, the message was, “I’m fucking beautiful, I accept myself the way that I am.” So when I sent the photos from the event to the magazine and got it published, I got a message from you about it the next day. I was fucking mortified.

Remy: To me it’s water off a duck’s back. I thought your photos were beautiful and I was very happy that you captured that moment. There were certain photos that I thought were less flattering and as a performer and as a trans woman existing in a body with which I experience a lot of dysphoria… To have my body broadcast to people I don’t know, to a community who I have not chosen to show my body to, that’s more of a boundary. It was just like who’s going to be looking at the pictures of my dick? 

I also think that the trans body in general is sensational and it provokes.

Most people just have never seen someone with tits and a dick naked in front of them. You know what I mean? And I think it’s important to show – this is what my trans body looks like, it looks different from any of the other bodies that you’ve encountered and there is beauty in that, there’s eroticism in that, just like there are in any other bodies, but my performance that night was about the danger of being in my body.

What you saw as a celebration of the beauty of my body was absolutely there and that was implied. It was a secondary message; the primary message was the reason that I’m wearing white and covered in blood is this idea of being in this very dangerous body.

Being a black trans woman is very dangerous and I always want to remind people of that because I think that we become over-concerned with viewing trans identity as exciting, as sexy, as cool, as edgy.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that I think a lot of people want to be cool and sexy and outrageous and sensational and so they flirt around trans identity as a way of accessing coolness mojo – the juice. They are like, “Oh I’m cool. I’m not like those other cis people, fuck cis people, I’m queer.” And it’s like okay. Alright. My experience is not that I’m trying to be cool, I’m trying to exist and my reality is a very dangerous one. I have been physically assaulted for being trans. There were five black trans women murdered in the state of Florida in 2018. Murdered. They were all black, they were all trans women.

So when I’m onstage when I’m going to those communities, wherever I am, I’m always aware that yeah, it is fun to party, it’s totally fun to celebrate queerness, but what are we doing to protect black trans women? Because black trans women are always dying. It’s not light-skinned trans women who are dying. I’m sorry.

“I think it’s important

to show – this is what my trans body looks like, it looks different from any of the other bodies that you’ve encountered and there is beauty in that…”

It’s the black trans women who are being murdered and it’s happening in this state and every other state.

So for me, I like my performance in equal parts to be a celebration of my beauty like yes, bitch, I am out here living and I look like this. I look good. I’m fucking happy.

I love the skin that I’m in, but I’m always aware and I want you to be aware that this is dangerous and at any point I could be murdered for this shit. So, I want to encourage the community to be mindful of that and hopefully encourage them to find ways to really hold space for black people, for trans women, for those who exist in dangerous bodies.

And while I want to also hold space for everyone’s clear expressions, right? And so when we do this big queer wash, where everyone’s welcome, as long as you say you’re queer it doesn’t really matter, we’re open to everybody, and then everybody gets a rainbow brush stroke across and like we’re all like in this, you know, nebulous queer thing. It’s like, okay that’s cute. But when we leave here, you’re going to take your makeup off and go back to your boy job and I’m going to be a threat of fucking dying. I’m going to be responding to fucking calls from my ad of clients trying to come fucking pay me for sex because I’m a black trans sex worker…

I think that I could approach in a way that would make me more popular and a way that would make people more likely to wanna approach me, but I’m less interested in participating in the fun as much as I am interested in challenging the narrative.

Creating Spaces For Trans Women

Remy: I’ve had fun. You know, I’m 30, I’ve had so much fun and you know what? I still have lots of fun. But you know what, I’m sober, I don’t do that shit anymore. If I was fucked up on cocaine and fucking drinking, bitch yaaaahssss [screams]. But I’m sitting there like, “What do y’all think about black people? Do y’all really host spaces for black people? When was the last time y’all let a black person speak? Do you know we are getting murdered?” And people are like “Remy, stop!”

We’re getting murdered! Y’all gagged from me when I gave you shows, don’t be coming to my funeral like, “Oh my God, Remy was such a light.” Y’all didn’t do shit! Y’all wanna give me $50 to come to Miami, I live in Ft. Lauderdale. I’m not coming there for $50 to pour my fucking heart out on the stage and slay harder than the rest of y’all bitches, for what, for $50? Nah, because I know you pay your out-of-towners $150. So if you wanted to really show some support for black trans lives, I think you could probably get some more money. I think you could figure it out. Redistribute resources, honey. Instead of spending all your money on drugs, spend some money… Like I don’t know… Supporting the girls. You know, if I go on Grindr right now and go to the Trans Tribe, I’ll see all the fucking girls working, right? All the fucking trans girls who are escorts like myself.

“…before I was a fucking gay boy, before I was a trans woman, before I was a gender-nonconforming being, I was always black and I was always queer…”

I guarantee none of them are coming to these parties. None of them are coming to the queer parties. Cuz I don’t even think they know how to access those spaces and if they did access those spaces, I don’t know that those spaces would really know how to take people who are really struggling.

Like I’m fucking sucking dick to get by, you know what I mean? Like do y’all hold space for me outside of the sensational like yeah, real party and wearing cool costumes and assuming gender identities that are radical and awesome? But I don’t know. I will also acknowledge that I’m highly critical while also not having deep personal connections with most of the people in the community that you were talking about.

So I am not here to like rag on them and be like “Y’all aren’t doing it right” but I’m skeptical of any communities that call themselves queer, especially if they don’t seem to have a political mission that is specifically embedded in uplifting the lives of black people. That’s the queerest thing to do to me, period. Cuz before I was a fucking gay boy, before I was a trans woman, before I was a gender-nonconforming being, I was always black and I was always queer, and the same queers who were supposed to all be joining this ship because we are all cocksuckers, it’s like no y’all were shitting on me then and y’all shit on me now. So I’m glad we’re all in this queer little umbrella. But have y’all addressed your anti-blackness?

Jump to Part II after the video below.

Alexey Kim

Founder

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Conversations: What Are We Doing To Protect Back Trans Women? Part I