Cover By Lola Love
Its been a while since the last issue so this issue is surely due….
Thanks to all the contributors….you make me come alive in your words, your pictures, your meanings and expressions:
Julio Salgado and Yosimar Reyes
Ofelia Del Corazon
Edited by Misster Raju Rage
Please send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
POST-FEMME By Amita Swadhin
a wise friend once told me
that life is a series of coming outs.
now it’s a new year,
and i’ve made some resolutions
so, there’s something i need to tell you:
i’m. not. femme.
yeah, that’s right, you heard me.
i know, i know, there was that calendar…
but that’s so two thousand and eight.
i mean, ‘femme’ did work for me
once upon a time.
but i take it back.
i’ve changed my mind.
“i think there’s something you should know,
i think it’s time i told you so,
there’s something deep inside of me
there’s someone else i’ve got to be.
take back your picture in a frame,
take back your singing in the rain,
i just hope you understand –
sometimes the clothes do not make the [wo]man.“
time travel with me
back to 1983:
i’m five years old.
Osh Kosh overalls
dominate my wardrobe.
i get my hair cut
at a boys’ barber shop.
i buy my clothes
in the boys’ section.
spend my days climbing trees
and skinning knees,
playing Donkey Kong
bossing all the boys,
taking all their toys…
it’s true – i’m a bit fey.
but that was cool, back in the day.
then comes ’86 -
a year that lived up to its name.
my father starts lectures
that last through high school:
“girls need to cook and clean.
you have to be a good wife one day.”
my guy friends stop talking to me
so i cling to my girls,
but they’ve all turned to Barbie by then.
two years later,
i cry when i get my first training bra.
they aren’t tears of joy.
i ask my mother for a razor and makeup
the choice is clear:
fit in, or face laughter.
fast-forward to 1995 -
by then, i have mastered makeup
by then, i am over it.
all of it.
i cut off all my hair,
and it feels right.
look, i never wanted to be a boy.
but i never wanted to be a girl, either.
i wanted something better:
i wanted liberation.
i found ‘queer’
and then i found ‘femme.’
at first, it feels right:
while breaking all the rules.
there is power in being pretty
while being subversive
and i wanted it.
no one warned me that
it was a trap.
i learned the hard way.
1999: my first date with a woman
this has been a long time coming.
it’s going well until she says
“you are really confusing! and aggressive!
pulling out chairs,
trying to split the bill.
i thought you were femme!”
i am bewildered.
it’s mostly downhill from there.
i shave my head
and buy men’s clothes
and suddenly, all sorts of femmes
who have never noticed me before
wanna get my number.
the trans guy
who i’ve been talking to
“i’m not sure what you’re tryna do,
but you’ll always be femme
no matter what you wear.
i mean, look at you!”
i grow my hair again, and get a new girlfriend -
a femme in a previous love life.
“were you trying to embarrass me?”
when i wear sweats
after a 10-hour work day.
a ‘high femme’ asks
“what kind of femme wears hiking boots?!”
when she hears i’ve been walking out in the desert.
a trans man i have been dating says
“i really need to be with a sweet girl.”
as he breaks up with me.
i thought we wanted
alternatives to the cops.
so what’s with all the
when did the rules
and ‘straight girl’
start to sound so much the same?
let me be clear:
the only type of ‘femme’
i’m invested in being
is the kind that ends in I-N-I-S-T.
my gender is more layered
than the eyes can see.
and yeah, i see you
wanting to label
this dress -
so feel free.
i’m a performer.
i’m just doing me.
but i wanna know -
what are you doing
to work for liberation?
how we all gonna get free?
we have to move
beyond the binary.
Amita Swadhin is an LA-based, NYC-bred educator, activist, storyteller and shapeshifter. She is the coordinator and a cast member of Secret Survivors (a theater project she created with the award-winning NYC-based Ping Chong & Co. featuring survivors of child sexual abuse telling their stories), a performer with and co-producer of The Sugaran Tour, and co-host and co-producer of the weekly radio show Flip the Script on KPFK-LA. You can read more at www.amitaswadhin.com.
Five Tips For Queer Boys by Yosimar Reyes
This set of illustrations, is a collaboration with the amazing Julio Salgado and Yosimar Reyes.
Julio Salgado is the co-founder of DreamersAdrift.com. His activist artwork has become a staple of the DREAM Act movement. His status as an undocumented, queer artivist has fueled the contents of his illustrations, which depict key individuals and moments of the DREAM Act movement. Undocumented students and allies across the country have used Salgado’s artwork to call attention to the youth-led movement. Using the phrase “I EXIST” within his artwork, Salgado wants to use art as a way to combat words like “illegal” and “alien” that tend dehumanize undocumented immigrants. Salgado graduated from California State Universitiy, Long Beach with a degree in journalism.
From the Mountains of Guerrero, Mexico comes Yosimar Reyes, a Two-Spirit Poet/Activist Based out of San Jose,CA. His style has been described as “a brave and vulnerable voice that shines light on the issues affecting Queer Immigrant Youth and the many disenfranchised communities in the U.S and throughout the world.” Yosimar’s distinct style has managed to get him to perform form the Bay Area to New York City (always Representing East Side San Jose and his beautiful Mexico).
“Dear Internalized Biphobia: An Open Letter To The Ugly Beast Inside Me” by Ofelia Del Corazon
Dear internalized biphobia,
We’ve never had a healthy relationship and I am glad to say we are drifting apart. It’s been a long time since you showed when I was eleven. When I went to mass where the priest said that birth control and abortions and homosexuality were all equally bad. At that point I knew I liked boys and everyone said that was okay, but I was just starting to figure out that I liked girls too. That feeling I got when I liked a boy was the same feeling I got when I really wanted to be a girl’s friend. Like her best best friend. That’s when I started praying at night that I would wake up and my bisexuality would be gone.
But it never worked and my bisexuality, and you, biphobia remain inside me. Still though it wasn’t all bad. By the time I was thirteen I had reasoned that I was only half gay. I still had the option of squashing my squashing my feelings for other girls and I was thankful that I liked boys at all.
Thankful that I could at least, openly experience part of my sexuality… I did think boys were hella hot. Well, some of them. Often they were the girlie ones. With big pretty eyes and full mouths and long hair. The sweet shy ones who would let me do anything to them (like dress them up in my clothes) and would do anything for me, like steal hair dye and lipstick for us both or submit to being made to march around town in my thigh high stockings and lacy under things. I told my first boyfriend that I was bisexual and later he confided in me that he was bisexual too.
A few girls came out as bi when I was in high school but everyone laughed and talked about them behind their backs and I did it too. I remember my best friend said that “They do it to get attention.” That it was ‘trendy’ which was the ultimate insult among my group of outcasts and theater freaks. I wanted to tell her so badly that I was bisexual too. There was nothing fun or exciting about knowing that you were going to burn in hell for all of eternity. I was too afraid to say anything. She already refused to undress in front of me perhaps because I could never stop looking at her boobs.
I went to high school in a mostly Latino rural farming community and I had two secret girlfriends during the time. We were so secret; we were secret from each other. We would spend the night at eachothers’ houses and lie tense and quiet before becoming overwhelmed with teenage lust groping each other, humping and kissing and fucking quietly and sloppily all whilst pretending to be asleep. Which, if you’ve never tried to pretend to be asleep while fucking, it is sort of like pretending to be a zombie whilst fucking: it’s hard to do and not very sustainable. It also kind of makes you a bad fuck by default.
We didn’t hold hands or kiss in public. We just waited until it was time to sleep and then fucked in the dark then pretended like it never happened the next day.
By the time I was seventeen I was firmly convinced I was a lesbian no longer bisexual, until, I met a boy, well, actually a man on the Internet. I told him I was a lesbian and his acceptance validated my queerness for the first time. He was deeply flattered to be my grand exception. I agreed to move to southern California but only if I could date girls too.
Around the time I began to learn about feminism I realized what a misogynst assshole my boyfriend was. I moved out of our apartment the and into an environmentalist co op. I swore to all the hippies that I was a dyke although I would still bed men in secret.
I started dating a butch woman who asked me casually on our first date “When was the last time you had sex with a guy?” I felt my queerness under attack. I was threatened; it had been about two days. “Two years!” I lied, not knowing if that was long enough, my heart beat fast but I relaxed when she smiled. “Oh, cool. I’m gold star, myself.” she grinned, bragging. I pretended like I knew what that meant.
Only my roommates at the hippy co-op new my shameful bisexual secret (they saw the parade of men that came in and out of my room) and eventually they confronted my gold star girlfriend about it. “We’re poly.” She snorted. “And it’s not like she fucks every single guy that comes over!” but it was true. That’s pretty much all I was doing with guys at that time and at the end of it all I’d throw their clothes at them and growl and snarl and swear that if they ever told anyone I fucked them that they’d never get to fuck me again. It worked. My secret was safe. For a time.
One thing remains constant: I like to fuck hot people. It’s only been a few years since I have begun feeling all right about calling myself a bisexual. I’m not sorry to see you go internalized biphobia go, we’ve fought long and hard: like two lovers locked in a struggle, who get too tired to fight or just realize how much they love each other and began to fuck.
I wonder if you’ll ever be gone completely, biphobia. I wonder what it would be like to live without you.
With love and forgiveness,
Oh tower made of cloth. I was meant to be your lover. Correlational femme to your female he.
An inverse mirroring. A code toward arrangement or
orgasm. Enactment of the identity and the identity itself. This is document of the tractions. A
thrum-rosary. I read you
by transposing. You read my by capsizal. My own reactive body burgeoning. My hem line to your hemlocks. An etiquette of scorching
musculatures. Glandular and groin oriented ephemeral. Opening
what was ever waiting to be awash.
We fill a gong with our come. With our co emissions you make shapes on my forehead. Chivalry that is not a fantasy but imbued. A joy
that is dependent on depth. Like a mantra of new syllables. My torqued adam who mines me by way of shared atoms. “I will never misuse you.” This is a way to reverse callouses that prior to you have stayed. I longed for your short hair in my grip. For how we look like
else. How we feel like sweltering leaves can be felt from within.
The subversion of singular identity for the sake of
deifying one’s lover. To infiltrate me you braid my hair on the steps in the rain. Here tears are communication more than words are. Enactment as recollection
by surges in the lace wings. A stinging. We are adrift in a cave where bodies of flight engage erratic wafting. Inexorable pleasures
near a tributary that smells like pepper. Prepare me through potash. Through promises of more than
approximate. To fill the moat with ______. This grander is making us
whole by action. You read to me to bring the night closer. You float your cock inside of me and I feel us as both ephemeral and physical. As an inexhaustible length
j/j hastain is the author of several cross-genre books including long past the presence of common (Say it with Stones Press), trans-genre book libertine monk (Scrambler Press) and anti-memoir a vigorous (Black Coffee Press/ Eight Ball Press (forthcoming)). j/j has poetry, prose, reviews, articles, mini-essays and mixed genre work published in many places on line and in print.
My Statement Against Intimate Violence
It is not okay to tell your partner that no one else will love them.
It is not okay to tell your partner who is trans-masculine identified that they are not ‘man enough’.
It is not okay to say to your partner, who is transgender, who has multiple gender identities that they have a ‘multiple personality disorder’ and criticise/scrutinise their gender. It is not okay to not use incorrect pronouns with your partner to other people when they have requested you to use specific pronouns when referring to them.
It is not okay to joke/laugh about your transgender partner being read as a child/young person/underage with your friends in front of or even behind your transgender partner‘s back, even if your partner has joked about it with you personally and privately.
It is not okay to threaten your partner with harming yourself. It is not okay to threaten to and or harm yourself in front of them, on the phone or harm them in the process. This is manipulative, violent, can be triggering, especially if they are a survivor of violence themselves. It is not okay to do this when you are upset with them, when you do not get your way, when you do not feel like you have control of your partner or a situation with them or are feeling unwell.
It is not okay to say you have apologised for abusive behaviours and expect your partner to be instantly ok or forgive you for it and expect your partner not to bring up those experiences again when they are relevant and then become violent. It is especially not okay to continue these behaviours once you have apologised and promised it will not happen again.
It is not okay to be physically violent towards your partner by physical actions, screaming, inflammatory words or by grabbing them or shaking them or not letting them leave.
It is not okay to make your partner promise not to tell their/your friends/other people about their abusive violent behaviours including harming themselves when it effects their safety and well being.
It is not okay to claim that your ex-partner is making you feel unsafe in public trans/queer- community space just because they are there. It is not okay to claim that space for yourself and expect them not to be there without having consensual agreement with your ex-partner about claiming/sharing spaces. It is not okay then to behave violently and/or threaten to call security on them when they are in a public space with you.
It is not okay to play the victim and be manipulative, to lie about your behaviour, make excuses and stories, spread slandering accusations and untruths about your ex-partner so that you so you do not have to be accountable for your abusive behaviour or to cover it up. It is not okay to accuse your partner of abuse, or blame them for ‘making you unwell’ and leading you to behave in abusive ways, in order to call attention away from your own accountability.
It is not okay for witnesses and/or friends of the abuser to victim blame, turning abusers into victims by naming people accused of transphobic, abusive, or violent attitudes and behaviour as victims, heroes, important to our work (more important than the person raising the issue or victim to abuse). It is further not okay to be rude to and bad mouth the victim involved to other people without knowing fully what actually happened in the abusive relationship/situation.
Many of us suffer from mental and physical health issues. This does not excuse anyone from abusive behaviours. If you are not okay there are other ways to reach out, resolve anxiety, and being upset or conflicts, without resorting to violence, without trying to control your partner into saying and behaving in the ways that you want them to, especially when your partner is trying to support you through your health issues and have their own health issues. This behaviour is never justified or excused.
As a survivor of abuse, in any of its forms, I have the right to:
1. Name abuse in all its forms.
2. Feel angry, hurt and sad about my perpetrator(s), and any friend(s) or family who has collaborated with the violence.
3. Speak about my abuse.
4. Have a space to reﬂect on my personal history without judgment.
5. The physical and psychological care that is necessary for surviving trauma.
6. Safe relationships with family, friends, partners, lovers and service providers and safety including in public/community spaces.
7. Confront perpetrators and those who have participated in violations and abuses.
8. Take action to stop the abuse.
In writing this I do not want the following to happen from my abuser or their friends/allies:
■ Harassing, demeaning, denouncing, gossiping about, spreading rumours and lies about
or threatening to do these things to me for raising this issue of abuse.
■ Isolating or discrediting me for raising concerns and/or call for accountability
■ Questioning the legitimacy of concerns to detract from the need to be accountable
■ Accusing others of abuse in order to call attention away from own accountability
■ Denying, minimizing, victim blaming, and plain-old lying about doing any of these
things when called on it.
A note about this statement:
This statement can be utilised generally by others as a guide but this is also a personal statement about abuse that I have actually experienced from a particular person. It has taken me a long period of time to realise that I was a victim of abuse/come to terms with my abuse/speak about my abuse. It does not mean it is unfounded or untrue or can be discredited. It doesn’t mean I should’ve spoken earlier. The time is right now and I am only ready now to speak out about facing this abuse when I had been too afraid in the past of what my abuser may have done/reacted if I did so and whether it would be safe for both of us. I am not doing this to perpetuate abusive behaviour, because I want drama or conflict. I have loved the person who has been abusive to me, and have felt hurt, pain and trauma and it has taken time to heal and come to this place. There is still more healing work to do.
What I want from this statement:
I want to have a voice for what happened. I do not want to be isolated any longer. I want my abuser to take accountability for their abusive behaviour and seek support for it. I want them and their friends to stop ostracising and isolating me from my community/ies by ignoring me, being rude, giving me bad looks, bad mouthing me to other people, being violent, claiming I am making space unsafe by simply being in spaces that are important to me when there is no consensual agreement otherwise, telling me I do not belong there or am not entitled to share space. I want to feel safe in community spaces that I am entitled to be in. I do not want this abuse trauma perpetuated but ended. I want both myself and my abuser to be supported (by working through their behaviour and being accountable) in order to reach a fair agreement. I am only willing to resolve this issue of intimate violence with my ex-partner in a non-inflammatory constructive way. I am only willing to come up with a fair agreement to sharing community space with them and their friends in safe respectful ways. I do not wish to at this point to discuss this directly with my ex in question but I am willing to have a discussion with mediation with others (friends and allies or members) in the community who know us both or individually. I am seeking community support, but mainly to have a voice that has been silenced for too long.
By Misster Raju Rage (formerly known as other names)
*This statement remains anonymous. I do not wish to name and shame and make my abuser feel unsafe or persecuted. I hope that this statement will reach them and they can start to take accountability or the steps towards it*
spoken spoken word on public transport hostility by Teht Ashmani
I fantasized once (and then again, and again) about sharing these words with a tube carriage as some kind of you’re-stuck-with-me-installation-piece. But it wouldn’t have been fair to the gentler majority of passengers….
I see you,
I feel you,
Other people tell me
They see you staring.
I’m grateful for them;
The medical mercenaries would be quick to agree with their heavy iron keys
If I went to them complaining about a vague feeling of persecution.
My dear vague feeling of persecution,
Yes, you, since as you might notice if you cast your eyes around
Hardly anyone else in this carriage is staring
And maybe none as loudly as you,
What makes you think it’s alright
To make such a racket with your eyes?
Some of us are trying to be inbetween a few places,
You are the minority here.
Your intolerance and curiosity
Make you forget yourself while you wallow
In the self-obsession which you plaster
All over my body.
Sorry, but I already slipped out of that hideous garment,
Thank you very much,
I didn’t agree to this game.
Do you need some reading material
Or something else to look at?
Look at your shoes.
Look at your hands.
Realign your curiosity
Until you can find a loving question
About what you
Answering such a question
Truthfully and gently might be
Impossible: so love on yourself some more
And figure out how you got here
And where you’re going.
It has nothing to do with me besides
How you owe us some apologies