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Queer API Artists: A conversation between Kit + Kay

Queer API Artists: A conversation between Kit + Kay

Queer API Artists: A conversation between Kit + Kay

Press_Kit_and_Kay

Kit Yan

I often get asked the question, “what’s your real job?” and when I say that I make art people are dumbfounded. I wonder if it’s because they haven’t seen me on Ellen yet. There is no typical day when you are a touring slam poet. One day I could be performing for tens of thousands another I could be editing a poem for the 48th time, but often you can find me sitting somewhere searching for inspiration in the everyday. At home, I have an accent wall and futon with my butt indentation just for this purpose.

For me, the everyday is rooted in a world of queers and asians, and there are days when those worlds feel the same, and others that feel like they are a world apart. After talking to my friend Amy Sueyoshi, a professor of Race and Resistance Studies and Sexuality Studies at SFSU about the role of queer asian artists, she points out something that is very true, that Queer Asian artists often have an agenda, or a “social mission.” I wonder if it is because our “every days” have roots in large political issues, immigration, hate crimes, and poverty for example.

This intersection of identities and realities leads queer asian american artists to a place of creation that can sometimes be isolating. There is a lack, but not a deficit of role models out there, but two things work to create the invisibility that exists. People lack the resources to find our art, and many of us cannot sustain ourselves to keep churning out work to the masses. We lack the money for ads, production, and there is little investment from outside of the QPOC community in our work.

Honestly, I often find myself wondering if I should keep performing. When I am broke, when I am lonely, when I have run out of energy to do it all, I question. So for inspiration and camaraderie, I often turn to my friend Kay Barrett another Asian American spokenword artist that I am often mistaken for and is often mistaken for me. We are nothing a like at all, don’t look like each other, and don’t even dress alike. But we’re both round, brown, and have three letter names that start with K.

Kay Barrett

At family picnics during summertime, aunties and uncles would give a grimace and say, “What does that child do?” Well-intentioned but scrupulous gazes at me, that geeky kid with the pen, always writing and acting up. As an adult, I honed a way of witness, a way of seeing and touching that helped me process the world around me. Being Pilipin@, being queer, being a child of an immigrant in the U.S., I throw a wide net, hold a world that inhabits so many intersections. I represent a lot of people and know the responsibility of it. Can you name a powerful Asian Pacific-Islander American or an influential gay person you learned about in school? Growing up, how many Queer API/A people were discussed at all? There are a lot of us- why aren’t we reflected? We are in boardrooms, cleaning houses, writing speeches, studying for exams, building and painting and laughing and hoping and making love. We breathe so much power and resilience, yet sometimes we have to remind each other of it.

Each time I write, each time I collaborate with others in my demographic, we create a new discourse. We are writing our truths where otherwise we are depicted as background characters, if we are even seen at all. I write for the love of API/A and Queer communities. I write because other people fought to perform, write, and create art under circumstances much worse than my own; people who afforded me the leisure to write this now. I am only honoring what communities of resistance did before me- create our stories from the ground up. We deserve archive and analysis of how we are treated and how we want to be treated. We deserve as many organizations, essays, poems, and one-person musical neo-spoken-word interdisciplinary shows as possible. The more, the better, I say. The more we create and share, the clearer it will be to ourselves and to the world that we belong. We carve out our identities by naming them, and even further by artistic practice, negotiate what we want for ourselves in this world. We/I create to harvest some justice in a landscape where we struggle for basic human rights.

My own work relies heavily on a dialogue; constantly working with community organizations, with youth, and alongside others who strive for social justice. Our goal is liberation. Art is a vehicle we use at anti-war protests to send a vivid message, during public hearings and forums for safer neighborhoods from police brutality, for benefits that raise money for transgender rights, and is a conduit for talking about our own family’s experiences as immigrants in this time of unacceptable racism and homophobia. We wield our creative gifts to make connections along our various communities, and use our art to ask: How can we make an impact as poignantly and as sustainably as possible? What are the similarities and differences in our struggles? What do other cultural groups affected by similar oppression do not only survive, but to find joy? For me, these conversations infused with art always come with this intention: how can we work together to enliven everyone into action?

These are the collaborations that make my career nourishing, give purpose to something much larger. My goal is not just to create a good artistic project- that’s only the skin of it. My goal is to manifest and learn with others, to pump blood into, and contribute to a living-breathing movement. Without this imperative goal, honestly, my art only falls flat. I’m fortunate enough to have mentors and peers to remind me that this is a beautiful journey, and that a call to action can involve stanzas and stage too.

In the Philippines, language, religion, education, and art were the first areas controlled by our colonizers because the force that controls these fronts fashions the entire narrative; shapes the minds of youth, and therefore, those who control our future. How the world sees us, and even more crucially, how we see ourselves rests keenly on our art and education. Luckily for our people, political theater and liberation poetry sustained a mighty force with as much bite, fervor, and artistic finesse as you can possibly imagine.

It is a responsibility, this life Kit and I share. Writing, performing, and education are tools for change; tools I love to work with. We get to uncover our difficulties, fights, and hardships. We remind ourselves and each other of our strength and refuse to be silenced. We get to be conduit to existing heartache and be blessed enough to have people listen.

I believe Kit and I are exquisite examples of what being a Queer API/A artist truly means. As he mentioned, our voices are so distinct, and contrast at the most basic aesthetic level. Still, our work individually and together comes from a fiery place. We show our audiences the vast nuances of what Asian and Queer mean. Between the both of us, we can disagree on many topics, and in this tension resides a fervent mutual respect. This tension demonstrates the multiplicity of intersections where we co-exist, where we hope on a very simple level, we can uplift and bring joy to those who wish to witness. In our own way, we each show you a pulse, a complex and rhythmic beat that fuels the landscape of our identities, where no one poem, song, or story is exactly the same.

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Passing anniversary of my ma: cecilia ulanday barrett

Passing Anniversary of my ma: cecilia ulanday barrett

Originally published at www.reproductivejustice.org

Saturday, May 12, 2012
by kay ulanday barrett

i cannot watch video of myself, because i look far too much like you.

after every performance i thank my ancestors, graciously circle my pauses, my beats, the crowd’s laughter or held breath, re-tracing how i can innovate my tools, my limited gift to serve my people, serve youth, serve the person who looks at me with sideway glances, serve the strangers who fear our palm clasp held hands, our most intimate revolutions. i tell people as a joke how unmusical i am. there’s no singer in me, no piano virtuoso or drumming soul scale, only a few times do i beat box in the shower. confession: whatever music i had was all really you, the late night dancer, making heel to toe maps, hardwood jostled by human skin to cha-cha, to boogie, to your “one more time anak, just dance with me.”

during my first stab at puberty, i had flushed cheeks, harbored a resentment as thick as the rice served on tables just before the music came to speaker. embarassed as your dancing partner, the youngest person probably there, you never had any shame. genderfluid and unabashed, you taught me my transgender and queerness without theoretical basis or polysyllabic discourse, without you even meaning to. “here, is how you spin. by this, you come back to a solid position, now watch your feet. look down only if you have to, be firm and careful, you have to be careful with all your movements,” you’d say. “ay! ang galing mo, ah. ang anako is a dancer!” you’d say. so awkward in my body at the time, so dysphoric, your efforts would try. by habit, i learned explosion and loved my body only when it collided into something, a punching bag, a roundhouse kick to the under ribs of a stranger. definitely a choreography, a tact in martial arts, but where i was coming from, there was no room for compassion.

i never brace myself when i talk about being kicked out by you anymore, imagine your pointed fingers cursing me after i was unwrapped, couldn’t hold back, discovered kissing a girl. my tongue won’t censor your disgrace and i tell ones who look, maybe speak the same languages i speak, “i came out so many times, over and over, it took years.” it took fist throngs, prayers by a god i never believed, public gossip, another hungry child on the street. however, i understand your determination, how god didn’t have your back, and still, your ceaseless dedication had no wandering. this country asked you to be the worst of you, watch your homeland country from a staged distance, follow a script that never had intentions of happy endings. i was your only hope. i see this now, your mark on a world, how i came exactly from your making; from microscopic hair follicle to the love of tart foods to vehement beliefs. too similar for our own good, we make unbending fists on tables and in the air whenever pertinent.

i forgive you, you know that? 4 years honoring your passing this month and i can covet how i was pacing on sidewalks without food and how i lovingly understand my homeland, all by you. this is a complex place. a place of blood sting and bountiful songs on saturday nights. this is the smallest example of love of the colonized and struggling free, like my people, my homeland—- the wrath and the joy. my truths are on the microphone, keynote, conversation with comrades over pancit and solidarity movements. i can never deny my love for you, however have grown to distinguish the violence you’ve brought to me, how this parlays in the people i conduct meetings with, hold placards and poem with, how i adore stern women and queers who give it all up in uproarious ways but who may not take care of themselves, taxed by their organizations, flung from approval. how in spite of that, i lament them. how i may stay one meeting, one month too long for those who just need some time i’ll tell myself, they’ll change. you have made me a believer sometimes to my own demise.

you can’t help it can you? garnish all of my emotions, because yes i do miss you, but i’m also so thankful you are rested, kickin’ it with ancestors, probably playing pusoy to your favorite beatles songs. no longer are you bothered by my manly face on television screens, how i might embarrass you, how i talk too loudly, am too emotional, move so awkwardly and unacceptably by society, just like you, but so different, the remix. how i mourn your death and all it took, but cackle on how i don’t have to carry your malcontent as my own rhythm, your judgments into my ears, how i chose to shift my self-making in order appease you. It is complex enough with your body as ashes back home. it’s complex enough in my half chuckle and sigh, how i allow all parts to change this world in ways you never wanted to imagine, but eventually accepted step-by-step, song by song, until you could no longer move.

A CAMPUS PRIDE 2009 Hot List artist, Kay Ulanday Barrett is a poet, performer, educator, and martial artist navigating life as a pin@y transgender queer in the U.S. Contributions include: make/shift, Kicked Out Anthology and Philippine American Psychology. Follow Kay on twitter: @kulandaybarrett or see www.recipesforthepeople.com.

This blog is part of Strong Families Mama’s Day Our Way blog series. Make and send a custom Mama’s Day e-card at www.mamasday.org. Strong Families is a national initiative led by Forward Together. Our goal is to change the way people think, act and talk about families

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Bakla/Tomboy

Bakla/Tomboy

The cast’s stories explore the experience of conflicting influences in relation to social, cultural and parental ideals. Their stories intersect thematically at the crossroads of cultural/sexual identity and stereotypes, coming out, familial acceptance, interracial dating and the pursuit of the American dream. 

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The Visibility Project  |  Kay’s interview

The Visibility Project | Kay’s interview

Visibility_Project_Portrait
The Visibility Project is a national portrait + video project dedicated to the Queer Asian American Women, Trans, and Gender non-conforming communities. The Visibility Project breaks barriers through powerful imagery and storytelling. 

Click for Kay’s full interview and profile.

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Dapper q: he said/we said

He Said/We Said — Fall 2012 from dapperQ on Vimeo.

dapperQ is proud to present the Fall 2012 installment of He Said/We Said, based on the Fall 2012 Gant by Michael Bastian collection. HS/WS is the brainchild of its series editor, Anita Dolce Vita. Photos for dapperQ by Syd London. Photography Assistants: Jamie Larson and Jay Toole. Video Production: Susan Herr, dapperQ founder.

We are honored that Autostraddle has published additional images from this shoot. For full model bios and outfit details, visit Autostraddle’s edition here.

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Windy City Queer LGBTQ Dispatches from the Third Coast

Windy City Queer LGBTQ Dispatches from the Third Coast

Windy City Queer LGBTQ Dispatches from the Third Coast

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Edited by Kathie Bergquist

LGBTQ writing from Chicago that features a compelling mix of poetry, memoir, fiction, and essays

The contributions of the Midwest and, specifically, Chicago to LGBTQ literature have been invaluable yet largely uncelebrated over the last century. This anthology charts a map of queer Chicago and showcases its thriving urban arts community, which boasts a unique history, legacy, and sensibility deeply rooted in the urban Midwest.

Here is a first-rate collection of queer voices from Chicago’s literary landscape. Celebrated writers Edmund White, Achy Obejas, Sharon Bridgforth, Brian Bouldrey, E. Patrick Johnson, Carol Anshaw, David Trinidad, and Mark Zubro are joined by emerging voices from the queer literary scene. These pieces span all literary genres, from fiction and poetry to memoir and essays, and portray a full gamut of gay Chicago lives from the everyday to the quirky, from public spectacles to quiet intimacies, from family life to nightlife, from dating to marriage, from loving to mourning. The writing that comprises this volume, which seeks to claim a queer space on the literary continuum, is surprising, smart, hilarious, and heart wrenching.

Click to purchase a copy

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Filipino American Psychology: A Collection of Personal Narratives

Filipino American Psychology: A Collection of Personal Narratives

Filipino American Psychology: A Collection of Personal Narratives

MERCH_Filipino_Psychology

About the Collection

Filipino Americans are projected to become the largest Asian American population by 2010. As the second largest immigrant group in the country, there are approximately 3 million documented and undocumented Filipino Americans in the US. Filipino Americans are unique in many ways. They are descendants of the Philippines, a country that was colonized by Spain for over three centuries and by the US for almost 50 years. They are the only ethnic group that has been categorized as Asian American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and even as their own separate ethnicity. Because of diverse phenotypes, they are often perceived as being Asian, Latino, multiracial, and others. And contrary to the Model Minority Myth, Filipino Americans have experienced several health, psychological, and educational disparities, including lower college graduation rates and higher levels of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, depression, and suicide. Despite these disparaging statistics, Filipino Americans have made significant contributions to the US, ever since their first arrivals in October 1587- from their involvement in the United Farmworkers Movement to their roles in hip-hop culture and their presence in medicine, education, and the arts. However, Filipino Americans have also been referred to as the “Forgotten Asian Americans” because of their invisibility in mainstream media, academia, and politics. Filipino American Psychology: A Collection of Personal Narratives offers an intimate look at the lives of Filipino Americans through stories involving ethnic identity, colonial mentality, cultural conflicts, and experiences with gender, sexual orientation, and multiraciality. Writers courageously address how they cope with mental health issues- including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and suicide. Theories and concepts from the book’s predecessor, Filipino American Psychology: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice can be applied through the voices of a diverse collection of Filipino Americans. Filipino American Psychology: A Collection of Personal Narratives

Click to purchase

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We Got Issues Anthology edited by Rha Goddess & Jennifer Calderon

We Got Issues Anthology edited by Rha Goddess & Jennifer Calderon

We Got Issues Anthology edited by Rha Goddess & Jennifer Calderon

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About the Anthology

In 2005, the “We Got Issues” team, Rha Goddess and JLove Calderon, traveled the country gathering rants from over 1,000 women, from Rikers Island to the Republican National Convention. They held community dialogues, rantfests, and Red Tent gatherings. This joyful call-to-arms by young women warriors collects the best of those events. We Got Issues! showcases a new feminine generation as they speak honestly and courageously about the 10 most important issues facing young women today, from money and racism, to relationships and motherhood. Each chapter frames a particular issue socially, culturally, and politically. A diverse range of rants, poems, and monologues are accompanied by an inspiring portrait of a woman warrior, “rituals of empowerment,” quotes, statistics, and trends. Powerful black-and-white images capture these spiritual descendents of Eve Ensler, Alice Walker, Jane Fonda, and other old-schoolers acting up, acting out, and demanding change.

Click to purchase

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Kicked Out Anthology edited by Sassafras Lowrey

Kicked Out Anthology edited by Sassafras Lowrey

Kicked Out Anthology edited by Sassafras Lowrey

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About

In the U.S., 40% of homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ). Kicked Out published by Homofactus Press brings together the voices of current and former homeless LGBTQ youth and tells these forgotten stories of some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Diverse contributors share stories of survival and abuse with poignant accounts of the sanctuary of community and the power of creating chosen families. Kicked Out highlights the nuanced perspectives of national organizations such as The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and The National Alliance Against Homelessness and regional agencies, including Sylvia’s Place, The Circus Project and Family Builders. This anthology introduced by Judy Shepard, gives voice to the voiceless and challenges the stereotypical face of homelessness.

Visit the Kicked Out official website

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March 1, 2013 | Queer Gender & Sexuality Conference Showcase

March 1, 2013 | Queer Gender & Sexuality Conference Showcase

DATE
March 1, 2013

TIME
8pm start time

WHERE
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002

Event info on facebook…

About the conference

The 4th annual Five-College Queer Gender and Sexuality Conference will take place March 1st and 2nd in Franklin Patterson Hall at Hampshire College. The conference aims to offer an accountable and supportive environment in which to further explore a wide range of topics, and their intersections, such as race, genders, sexualities, ability, class, kink, survival strategies, and many more, in a specifically queer context. We strive to provide a safer space for engaging, learning, and fostering community with a wide range of workshops, panels, performances, and lectures by student leaders, Five-College faculty and staff, and off-campus educators. This open and inclusive conference is FREE and organized by a volunteer committee comprised of students from the Five Colleges and a staff advisor, Emily Rimmer (Director of Women’s and Queer Services at Hampshire College)

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