Blog : press

[May 3, 2016 | #TransLiberationTuesday w/ Micah Bazant]

[May 3, 2016 | #TransLiberationTuesday w/ Micah Bazant]

Thank you, glorious artist & wonderful collaborator, Micah Bazant! Happy May Day edition of #TransLiberationTuesday! featuring Kay Ulanday Barrett — poet, performer, educator, and disabled pin@y-amerikan transgender queer.

“For my dad, who didn’t graduate past 8th grade & got sick working in the underbelly of ships for a country that forgot about him after the cargo was delivered; for my mama, forced to migrate outta her town to clean up after ungrateful white people, who got cancers from all the chemicals scrubbed into her bare hands only to crack jokes from sick beds; for my trans people of color siblings who are underemployed, working in the streets, hustling, exposed to unsafe conditions & doing jobs amerikans never really think about; for the sick people who go unbelieved & beautifully self-doctoring themselves to breathe again & again.

Some people work their spirits to the bone in ways that aren’t considered valuable. Sometimes, the amerikan dream is actually a nightmare you inherited & now, disown. Every year I challenge the limited notions of labor & productivity. Every time, white cis amerikan ableist expectations on brown, poor, transgender, and sick bodies get a little more obsolete and I feel us getting closer to holding one another whole, getting what we need together, like we deserve.”

Contact Kay for amazing workshops, performances and speaking gigs at

#mayday #fuckyourprowess #imnotaproductofmylabor #iwd2016
#disabilityjustice #transjustice #TLT

[visual description: watercolor & ink image of a brown round boi with a cane, wearing a white t-shirt that says “every cane is a drum on the earth” in front of a background of swirling stars.]


[December 1, 2015 | NPR, Our Queer Stories Feature]

[December 1, 2015 | NPR, Our Queer Stories Feature]

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 7.18.31 PM[Description: a photo of a brown boi with glasses & cane smirks in NYC. Text reads “what racial, disability, & LGBTQ justice have in common.”] Posted by ourqueerstoriesQDM & NPR. Originally by PBS NewsHour. Saw this tweeted & posted today with no actual cited source. Strange things on the interwebz. #racialjustice#kaybarrett #gendernonconforming#transpeopleofcolor 

#transmanofcolor#qtpoc #sdqtpoc

[September 4, 2015 | 3 Artists & Cultural Workers You Need to Know About –]

[September 4, 2015 | 3 Artists & Cultural Workers You Need to Know About –]

3 Artists & Cultural Workers of Color You Need to Know About

Kay Ulanday Barrett on Reina Gossett, Patricia Berne, & Sonia Guiñansaca

This post is part of a Nat. Brut series in which feminist writers, artists, and activists discuss people, publications, or organizations who are working toward inclusivity. Today, poet and educator Kay Ulanday Barrett shares their choices. Click here to read more!  Special Thanks to Kayla E. of Nat. Brut for the amazing collaboration. 

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Bitch Media Contribution

Bitch Media Contribution

—November 19, 2013—

Check Out Our Brand New Food Issue!

Bitch HQ post by Kjerstin Johnson on November 19, 2013 – 5:16pm;

four pics

It’s that time of the year again… time for the new print issue of Bitch magazine! This winter, our long-awaited Food issue is hitting mailboxes and and newsstands around the world. (Not hitting yours? Subscribe today!)

We’re so excited to share this issue with you (so excited that in Portland we’re throwing a party—and you’re invited!). We’ve got 80 pages filled with tasty morsels: from celebrity chef TV, to art so good you could eat it, to the politics of the food labor movement. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into, and we’ve posted a few articles online to get you interested.

Soleil Ho shares a personal essay about cultural appropriation and cuisine in “Craving the Other.” Activist and spoken word poet Kay Ulanday Barrett shares his thoughts on how food can build community in “Food from the Cusps.” We’ve got an interview with the hilarious Samantha Irby, who discusses her new book Meaty in “Eating Out.” We’ve got a discussion of the bitter-tasting sexism of the specialty coffee industry,“Steamed Up.” And last but not least, Lindsay Zoladz delves into the 1960s teen girl group She.



Liberation doesn’t leave people behind:  Speech 2012 Trans day of Action, NYC.

Liberation doesn’t leave people behind: Speech 2012 Trans day of Action, NYC.

K. speaking at 2012 Trans Day of Action  with Stephanie Maria and Lucia Leandro Gimeno.
K. speaking at 2012 Trans Day of Action with Stephanie Maria and Lucia Leandro Gimeno.

Liberation doesn’t leave people behind:
ableism, transphobia, classism, & racism
contribution by Kay Ulanday Barrett

[insert chant] — when i say TRANS you say POWER,
TRANS (power)!
TRANS (power)!

i want to first say that we are here due to the hard & strategic work by trans women of color, many of whom have mental/physical disabilities and chronic illness. this work continues to be done. as a trans masculine ally, i need to know my place, move down.

i want to ask you to pay close attention to who can be here to today, who can literally march, who can move, who can do so painlessly, who can speak, who can “stand up!”

TRANSJUSTICE asked me to speak on ableism and the trans community. i keep wondering what can i share that is different than what i said last year.

let me start with the things that are the same:

*a life as a brown trans physically disabled crip person, is judged by all systems—- the government systems that give harsh pity in public “assistance,” the police who use more than billy clubs to enforce their brutality, the doctors who steal our agency of our own experiences, the employers, the public transportation, all at once like an open wound warring with double the sting. racism, ableism, transphobia, classism.

*trans disabled people of color face shame/guilt from all systems plus our loved ones. we are left out, left behind, we are too sick to be real man or woman, forgotten, not invited to the party, seen as a burden, our own decisions made for us, resented, told to get better, told to just work harder, told we have to change, or get fixed. trans disabled people of color don’t need any fixing. but, we can fix this inaccessible transphobic, racist and ableist ways of the world.


here are new thoughts i’ve learned from my crip queer trans brown community:

*a person’s limitations are not the problem, it’s a strength to know your own magic. if one can’t walk too far, moves a certain way and that makes you uncomfortable, THAT is your problem about how you’ve been taught to see humanity. just like how non-trans people tell trans people they are freaks, disabled trans people are freaking dope and the world is fearful of us because we don’t suite to standards, we alter/shift/break them.

*when it comes to access and love— love with friends, lovers, chosen family, children, comrades, we are all learning how to be aware. it’s not only about ramps, interpreters, holding a bag or bringing medication, it’s about meeting people where they are at and moving with us, struggling with us without shaming, guilt, belittling, resentment. we will make mistakes on our way to being whole. not whole like unbroken, but whole as in complete with our flaws, our hard truths, our complexities. we want a world that is whole and complex!

*real love is possible. for us to call and move with one another we must realize that able-bodied supremacy breeds racism and transphobia. the way we make decisions, the way we love, organize, socialize, invite, give support, the way we see our gendered and raced bodies all connect! this is how we will transform not just systems that harm us, but the systems that we let harm and limit our hearts, our spirits. please remember, liberation doesn’t leave people behind. liberation tries, liberation transforms, and liberation shows up.


[insert chant] — when i say TRANS you say FORM,

[insert chant] — when i say SHOW you say UP UP UP,
SHOW (up up up)!
SHOW (up up up)!




Queer API Artists: A conversation between Kit + Kay

Queer API Artists: A conversation between Kit + Kay

Queer API Artists: A conversation between Kit + 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

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

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 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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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

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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