Prepare yourself, if you can. There’s nothing else quite like it.
Check out my very major interview with trans women writers Trish Salah and Casey Plett about trans women’s literature!
Jayne County talking about trans and queer life in New York City in the 1960s. She explains the “sex searches” police would conduct on drag queens and trans women during gay bar raids, making people expose their genitals to the police.
This evening I had the pleasure of listening to an older trans woman, an elderly drag queen, and an older trans man discuss their lives as out gender non-conforming queers in the 1960s-90s. They were talking about how Yonge Street used to be where all the gay bars, like the Saint Charles and The Manatee, were before the Church/Wellesley Village was created.
The older trans woman talked about how, before the laws against cross-dressing were changed, she used to overhear the cops telling young men they could go beat her up, and that “if they caught you going home with a man in heels — that was it!”
Then the elderly drag queen raised up their pant leg to show us the scars from the bullet that was shot through their leg back in the day. They said they’d also been stabbed before as well, for going out in drag.
It was an immensely humbling experience and made me feel very deep gratitude for the struggles of those older trans and queer generations that came before mine.
My friend and curator Alvis Parsley is launching an amazing project called the Chinatown Think-Tank and is raising funds for it. Donate to this awesome queer POC project!
Here’s what Alvis has to say:
Who am I?Hello, my name is Alvis Choi. I also go byAlvis Parsley:)
I am an artist, curator, project manager, researcher, and an aspiring clown.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, I came to Toronto two years ago. I started mingling with the Chinese-speaking community as I worked my underpaid bakery job in Chinatown and searched for my identity. In 2012, I started conceptualizing the connections between of all of the above into art/social projects!
What is Chinatown Community Think Tank?Chinatown Community Think Tank (CCTT) turns the storefront space of Whippersnapper Gallery into a social space for the Chinese-speaking community in the Chinatown of downtown Toronto. The project started with the simple question of “Can Whippersnapper’s programming be accessible for the Chinese-speaking community in Chinatown?”
I speak fluent Cantonese, Mandarin and English, which allows me to facilitate dialogues with Chinese-speakers, touching on themes of home, migration, race, family, language barrier, and survival, topics that relate to everyday life in the community. I want to invite community members to envision the role of art in Chinatown. I will host regular community gatherings including: karaoke night, sharing sessions by Chinese doctors, a self-organized Chinese guided tours to the free evenings at the Art Gallery of Ontario which is also located in Chinatown! EXCITING!
RADICAL FEMINISTS ARE WORTH NONE OF YOUR TIME
a litany of prayers to the self and the Trans Ancestors
In the names of the Mothers, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha Pay-It-No-Mind Johnson,
the Daughters, Venus Xtravaganza and Greer Lankton,
and the Holy Ghosts, Mark Aguhar and Candy Darling,
I pray for the strength to not let my attention be diverted,
from the artwork and lifework of those Beautiful Queens.
Let not the terrible machinations of those False Feminists,
C.B., Dirt, et al.,
occupy my mind, body, or soul,
which I dedicate unto the divine work of #girlslikeus.
For late at night, though I may walk through the Valley of the Shadows of their hate-filled blogs,
I shall fear no evil.
For I know that I am among the chosen.
I stand on the shoulders of Ancestors spanning all of time, in every culture,
where we have been and are healers, artists, spirit-workers, and lovers.
And from these Ancestors I will have strength.
And from that strength I will remember
that it does not befit a Queen to Pay It Any Mind,
and I will remember that we are all Great Queens on this Earth.