ENBY Magazine Issue #3: Expressions

Page 1

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Leif Tobias Gifford (they/he) (http://instagram.com/achievingfusion)

- Leif Tobias Gifford (they/he)

By: Ida Jouband (they/them) and Jimi Cullen (they/them) 5

By: Blue Bell-Bhuiyan (they/them) 7

By: Sebastian YĹŤe (they/them) 11 By: Juno Morrow 13, 18 By: Mx. Johnnie (they/them) 14 19

By: Suraaj de Silva 22

By: Rachel Lau (they/them) 25 A comic by: Lu Zwanziger (they/them) 28 By: Leif Tobias Gifford (they/he) 32 By: A.Z. Louise 35

Dear readers, Wow… Issue #3. I scratch my head a little, thinking about how far this magazine – something I started when I was just 17 – has gotten since April of 2016. I have all of you to thank for that. The non-binary community is vast, online and in person, and I have experienced it first-hand. From the day the magazine launched to today, the day that this issue is published, and so on into the future, the community has been building this magazine. I know it can be isolating, sometimes, to identify and express ourselves in ways few might understand (knowing that multiply marginalized folk have the hardest time with it in society). From wherever you are, I hope you can take solace in seeing the beautiful art, poetry, photography, and other writing we have prepared for you in this issue and know that you are not alone. We are not a monolith. And we deserve to be free to express ourselves, in every way we can. Thank you for reading and enjoy this issue! Yours in expression, Leif Tobias Gifford (they/he) Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ENBY Magazine

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ENBY Magazine is proudly supported by boundless media, a Toronto, Canada-based media collective and publishing house intended to boost the voices of marginalized creators. They make intersectional media and consult with creatives of all ages and background to make the work they were born to make. We are the media revolution.

by Ida Jouband (they/them)

Fiction is a magical place. Indeed, by creating worlds outside our average reality they create spaces for exploration and self-discovery that have much to teach us about ourselves.

Tillie Walden's On a sunbeam Tillie Walden is an American cartoonist who grew tired of male centered sci-fi stories. The result is her webcomic On a sunbeam, a poetic and intimate coming of age story about a girl named Mia who joins a of space travelers that will help her reunite with her first love. Do not expect to find epic galactic battles, laser guns and other testosterone centered tropes: On a Sunbeam's slow-paced narration will take you through the emotional ups and downs of its characters (all either women or nonbinary) as they explore themes like love, fitting in, friendship, gender, and queerness. The result is a unique story that pushes the limits of the sci-fi genre by focusing on the people it so often leaves back on Earth.

Nix Hydra's The Arcana Nix Hydra is a small women-driven game studio whose aim is to create games for people often left out by the industry. Their latest mobile game, The Arcana, immerses the player in a tarot-inspired fantasy game full of magic, mystery and steamy romance. By featuring love interests of both gender and allowing the player to choose between he, she and they pronouns The Arcana creates a deeply immersive space in which the player can freely explore their gender and sexual orientation. These mechanics are reinforced by the choice-driven narrative that puts us at the center of the experience, creating a fantasy world in which everything is possible.

By Jimi Cullen (they/them) Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi This semi-autobiographical debut novel explores the life of a non-binary person growing up in Nigeria and spending their early adulthood in America. It talks about sexual violence and the trauma that colours the following years. It describes aspects of a non-binary experience inter-

secting with the experience of a Black member of a diaspora facing mental illness. This is done in language sprouting from a heritage of concepts from both Igbo and Christian traditions. Freshwater feels so viscerally familiar that some parts are uncomfortable to read. I felt emotionally affected both by the parts of the book I could identify with and the parts that gave me a glimpse of experiences I will never have myself. The book has an immersive internal world which will draw you into the main character’s complex web of perspectives. It is exciting to see writers like

Emezi putting their lives onto the page in such worthy additions to the canon as Freshwater. Faber & Faber provided a free review copy of the book.

Want, For Nothing by Danger Grove Want, For Nothing is the first full album by Danger Grove, a collaboration between rapper Jesse Dangerously and producer Lizard Grove. A hip hop group made up of a female producer and a non-binary rapper might turn heads. Those heads will nod as they dig into Grove’s beats which build on a legacy of alt hip hop and electronic indie rock sounds. Dangerously’s lyrics on this album are both funny and devastating. Their delivery is reminiscent of both the hard flows and goofiness of early 1990s rap. A particularly poignant song, gottagonnagottagonna, is one of the first songs I have heard that discloses a mindset one can be dragged into by years of fatphobia. This album brings sounds and stories that you want to, and should, go listen to. The reviewer has a friendly online relationship with Jesse Dangerously of Danger Grove.

By Blue Bell-Bhuiyan (they/them) @conoriblue

On the 1st of October, a Twitter hashtag shared by

first create the hashtag. They both described feeling

a non-binary book club took on a life of its own, as

uncomfortable during #VisibleWomen about the

hundreds of creators posted their art and writing,

way that non-binary people were being shoehorned

elevating and supporting each other, their work, and

into women’s campaigns.

their stories. “There’s an assumption that all non-binary folk are #IAmNonBinary, inspired by the #VisibleWomen

comfortable in spaces designed for women, and so

movement in comics, was actually the third iteration

often we are tacked into these spaces,” says Thal.

of what was previously #VisibleNB and

“The labels ‘woman and enbies’ or ‘women and

#VisibleEnby. Its creators Laura (@emeraldreverie

femmes’ may have the best of intentions, but really

on Twitter) and Thal (@thalestral) evolved the

they are very erasing”.

name several times after responding to what they described as constructive criticism from the Twitter

“People were trying to start a non-binary exclusive

community. One piece was that not every non-

hashtag on the same day as #VisibleWomen. Good

binary person identifies with the term ‘enby’ and

intention lay behind both, but the result was either

that NB had already long been used to mean ‘non-

non-binary folk feeling like they were being treated

black’ by people of colour (POC).

as ‘women plus’ or that they were competing for space”.

And so #IAmNonBinary was born. Laura and Thal took to their Slack-based book club I spoke to Laura and Thal about what drove them to

and brainstormed new ideas for a unique space and

day for non-binary Twitter creators - and yes, the

do have a mainstream Twitter following all fit the

date October 1st was a binary number joke.

white, able-bodied and androgynous mould. For as long as these very few people are the only portray-

“In creative media we constantly see marginalised

al we have of non-binariness, then our representa-

people having their voices minimised, erased or

tion in popular media will always be dictated by priv-

spoken over,” says Thal. “A hashtag like

ilege and lack any kind of real reflection of the width

#IAmNonBinary gives the spotlight to all non-binary

and breadth or variety in non-binary experiences.

creatives, without taking away from anyone else’s much needed light”.

“Non-binary people span an infinite number of experience, culture and histories and there’s a lot of

For Laura, the hashtag was a way to facilitate non-

misinformation out there,” Thal says. “A huge num-

binary people connecting and seeing that there

ber of #IAmNonBinary participants were not the

would be other people out there who could relate to

white androgynous stereotype that all non-binary

their experiences - and that there were people cre-

people are often assumed to be, and it’s important

ating art and writing telling those stories. “That feel-

that we challenge that perception”.

ing when you first see yourself represented is so important”, said Laura, “it’s groundbreaking, earth-

For Brazilian comics artist Cap (@captoring -

shattering, it shivers through your body. For me, it

whose comics are featured in this issue, and in a

was like the sun was coming up and I felt warm for

great piece in the Nib about Brazil’s new transpho-

the first time.”

bic President), social media seemed like the most natural place to talk about being a non-binary artist.

Both Laura and Thal were overjoyed to see the response to the most recent iteration of the hashtag.

“I basically discovered myself as a trans person

“I didn’t expect it to be as huge as it was!” says

through social media,” they told me. “It would never

Thal. “Normally I retweet every participant from my

had clicked for me if without seeing trans people

own Twitter account, but this time I genuinely could-

online. The internet was the first place I came out,

n’t keep up - a large part of that is down to Laura’s

and it’s still where I’m most comfortable being open-

tireless promotion, but it’s also down to just how

ly myself…I can see cool posts and build a commu-

many creative non-binary people are out there, and

nity and network. Then we can all lift each other up.

how supportive our community is.”

I came to Twitter as a professional move to grow a profile oriented towards my art, and hashtags are a

Thal pointed out that volume is an often overlooked

great way to be seen and meet other cool people. It

aspect of representation. A handful of people can

felt awkward at first to promote myself, but now I’m

never truthfully represent an entire community, es-

very into it!”

pecially one with such a huge range of experiences and intersectional identities.

However, despite being a big supporter of

#IAmNonBinary, Cap also said they weren’t sure But at the moment, the few non-binary creators that

about the segmentation of queer communities into

smaller and smaller movements online, raising a

need for hashtags and campaigns that bring trans and queer people together, binary, non-binary, or otherwise. “It’s important we have larger hashtags and organizations so we don’t shut ourselves into little boxes -

‘confidence’, how loud I am about being myself, and

binary trans people are just as radical in how they

how I draw enby characters makes them feel better

live out their gender, and having a place together

about themselves. That it makes them feel happy

means people can fluctuate between thinking of

and valid. That’s all I care about.”

themselves as binary and non-binary without having to slap a clear label on it”.

Of course, as with everything on social media, being loud and visible comes with its own set of risks and

For many non-binary people, this issue is at the

struggles. Beanie admits that the cons of joining a

heart of a constant balancing act. Separating our-

hashtag as popular as #IAmNonBinary is the hate

selves into the little boxes Cap describes leads to

that it can attract.

less cohesiveness and sharing between binary and non-binary, or trans and other queer communities,

They describe a particular experience that “really

but it also gives us space to be ourselves and find

hurt” during the hashtag: “There was this Twitter

people who accept who we are and understand our

account called something like ‘Just say cis’ that


went through the tag retweeting everyone by saying “just say you’re cis”. It made me think… was that

Wider trans and queer movements allow for differ-

someone in the LGBT community or just another

ent sections of our community come together, and

bot? But in the end, I can just block them and what

are more inclusive of those whose are questioning

can they do to me except from spitting hate from

gender, or whose gender fluctuates between binary

behind their screens? I care more about the happi-

and non-binary. However, the same time, the wider

ness my art and characters seem to bring people

the movement, the greater the risk that the most

like me.”

marginalized and underrepresented of us are pushed to the side.

“Well I’m a block first, ask-questions-never sort of person!” Laura quipped when I asked if they were

I also spoke to Beanie (@princedesoies), a non-

ever worried about negative responses to the

binary artist and another participant of the hashtag,

hashtag. “Every non-binary person is familiar with

who said that for them, the biggest benefit to shar-

the ‘attack helicopter’ memes, mockery, being

ing work specifically to a non-binary audience is

erased, pronouns being ignored…” Thal added, “we

seeing first-hand how much it means to others.

all see the transphobia all around us online. And

“There are a lot of people who have told me that my

world events keep making these things worse and

worse. It’s… a lot.” “Many of us feel unsure in our identities, invalid in our experience and alone in our media. Seeing someone who is the same as you, who shares that part of you that is under attack, can remind you that actually you’re never alone.” The hashtag featured so many amazing creators that I wondered if anyone felt intimidated joining in - I

know I would. So I posed this question to Laura, asking them what they would say to anyone feeling apprehensive about taking part. “Anything you make is an expression of yourself. It doesn’t matter how good you think it is - even if it’s just a single selfie - someone out there might see you and connect with you. And everyone should know that someone else out there has felt the same way as them.” In the end, regardless of how confident you feel sharing you work, or where you stand on for segmented or all-encompassing queer campaigns should be, to see the depth and spread of diverse non-binary talent taking part in #IAmNonBinary was

Support the second installment of #IAmNonbinary on

inspiring and heartwarming. May it continue to grow

Janurary 10th, 2019!

and evolve!

Sebastian YĹŤe (they/them) is a Toronto-based model, writer, community educator, and the voice of Cal in the 2019 dating sim The Office Type. Sebastian has contributed to the Globe and Mail, HuffPost Canada, and Daily Xtra. When they aren't working, Sebastian can be found playing Dungeons and Dragons, eating pastries, or sewing themselves a new cosplay.

Modelling allows me to draw from the worlds of fashion, makeup, and photography to become the most fantastical version of myself that I can be. I love coming up with my own concepts and bringing my ideas to life. I also like working with different people on a shared creative goal where it is my job to embody their artistic vision.

Modelling is an imaginative medium that invites me to be as outlandish and dramatic as I like, and I value the opportunity to express myself in those ways as a genderqueer person. Oscar Wilde once said "One should either be a work of art or wear a work of art," and I say "get someone who can do both."

Under Pressure (2016) screenshot. Playable at https://junomorrow.itch.io/under-pressure.

Juno Morrow (they/them, 1986, Oakland, CA) is a multidisciplinary artist and designer based in Brooklyn, New York. Their early work, produced in Houston, Texas primarily consists of urban subject-matter photography. Upon moving to New York in 2009, their work expanded to include digital and interactive media. Existential, perceptual and ontological themes are often explored in their work, which has been exhibited across the U.S. and internationally. Juno earned an MFA from Parsons School of Design and is an assistant professor at Eugenio MarĂ­a de Hostos Community College, part of the City University of New York.

By Mx. Johnnie (they/them) With every exhale I see my breath. It’s a brisk

school, the walk back to my room feels like deja vu. I’ve

night out and I’m regretting ever leaving the house. Who

done this countless times over the eighteen years of

decides to workout on a snow day? When did I become

living here. And today was no different, as I opened the

so dedicated? Anything to get away from them, though,

door to my room. Gray walls. I remember begging my

I admit to myself. I hate the holidays with my family. It

parents to let me change the color from the baby pink

seems no matter how old I get I can never grow into the

they chose before I was born.

woman they always saw me as. So, I’m off to the gym

“Alaina,” I here my father yell from the living

trying to sneak in a quick workout before the gym closes

room. “I have someone I’d like you to meet.” Probably

for the holidays.

another set up. This is the first time my parents have

What a beautiful sight, watching the sunset as

tried to force their heterosexual agenda on me.

we get our first snowfall this December. Just in time for

And like clockwork my mother is at my door, she

Christmas, I tell myself, picking up the pace as I walk

always knocks while entering. With a sly grin on her

the cold streets of Atlanta. I should’ve drove, but in my

face she says, “Put this on.” Out stretching her hand. In

haste I thought the fresh air would cool my burning

it, a hanger holding a dress for the dog and pony show

rage. Inhale. Exhale. With a clear head, I have arrived

she hoped would ensue in the living room. I don’t reach

to my destination.

up, just shoots a look of discuss. “Well, I’ll just set this

There aren’t many people here, which is good -


the way that I like it honestly. I can slip in and out unde-

Instead, I pull on some more workout gear - a

tected. After checking in, I put my heavy blend hoodie

sports bra, T-shirt, pair of boxer briefs, sweatpants.

on, hood and all. I put in my headphones and start my

Grabbing my hoodie on my way out the room.

workout playlist as I head to the deserted cardio section.


Hopefully I can spend ten minutes warming up before

Shit. I forgot to bind. Snapping back to reality,

hitting the free weights hard. Making sure to take my

but too late. Oh and the eyes I get when others notice

time as a way to waste as much time as possible.

my chest. I’m a pretty androgynous looking person, and

Looking down at the screen on my treadmill. 6

I like it that way. But right now I’m regretting not fully

minutes, 31 seconds, and I’m already feeling the burn in

prepping for the gym. Caught between a rock and a

my legs and starting to get hot. This is one hell of a

hard place. My anxiety is building with no solution to

warm up. I remember I still have my hoodie on. Reluc-

calm it down.

tantly, I start to take off my shield as I’m taken deep in

After a good work out head to the dreaded lock-

thought of the moments leading up to me leaving my

er room area. Which side should I choose. Since there’s

parents’ house earlier.

no unisex place to change and I’m forced to choose be-


tween men and women. Today, I’ll choose women since

Getting out the shower and walking to my room

I didn’t see many here at the gym tonight. Go in, un-

made me feel a bit more nostalgic than expected. After

dress QUICKLY, sit in the sauna for 15 minutes, and get

purposely not returning for years since graduating high

out of there. No one will notice you. You can do it. It’s

empty, and I begin to undress. Seeing my body starting

Then, the world fades to black.

to transform from the blood, sweat, and tears I’ve shed


in this hell hole. I stand in front of the mirror to snap a

Am I dead. Did I get it? Is this heaven? Wait, am I

few pictures.

speaking or thinking?

Then... I hear someone walk in, so I quickly re-

Out of nowhere I hear, “You’re yelling, actually.”

dress, or at least get my shirt back on. Big mistake. Be-

The voice sounds familiar in a way I can’t quite place.

cause at least with my shirt off this little old Asian wom-

“Open your eyes,” they continue. If I was dead, then this

an could have seen my sports bra before pointing and

was nothingness.

shouting at me in a language I do not understand. An-

“Where are we? And who are know you?” I say,

other woman comes in after her, hearing the commo-

studying their face. It’s almost as familiar as their voice.

tion, then turns to me and says, “This is the women's

I knew this person, I’m sure, but where on Earth are

locker room.”

we? A split second ago I was running out of the gym.

I didn’t need a reminder about not belonging. So

Then there was a car.

I spit back, “I know what locker room I’m in,” in my more

“Did I die?” Oh no, I’m really not going to heaven.

-feminine-than-it-should-be voice, fighting back tears as

Curse this queer heart of mine! Trying to settle me I

they look back at me in surprise. I remove my shirt

watch as they put their hands up in a shushing motion.

again and head to the sauna thinking, there is no unity

“Please, can you stop yelling long enough for me to ex-

between AFABs.

plain,” they say. “Hello, I am Taurs your guardian an-

I sat in the sauna with my head hanging low in


defeat. Cursing myself for even coming in here. I knew

“I-I had a guardian angel-” and before I can fin-

this would happen! I’m so dumb and naive. I should

ish asking my question Taurs cuts me off and raises

have went into the men’s locker room. They never har-

their voice. Yes, it is I, who have protected you from the

ass me. But I’d have to take my shirt off to go to the

cruel and unaccepting world. And I that saved you from

sauna. Why don’t they have unisex stuff by now. It’s

a life full pain and hatred. Why are you looking at me


that way?” The PA blares above my head, “ATTENTION

“Ha! You do look familiar but I think I would


know you better if you really was there for me. So don’t


flatter yourself. No one saved me from the struggles of

“Shit, I have to walk back out there!” Fearing that one of the ladies are still in there.

being Non-binary in the gendered crazed society. I don’t recall you even trying.”

To my astonishment the little old lady is still in there,

“You wouldn’t have survived it if it wasn’t for me.

with those judging eyes. I think she can tell I’m still in

I’m the one who sheltered you from it all. I’m the one

tears and it’s making me have an anxiety attack. I can’t

who put the bug in your parents ear to name you Alex

breathe but I don’t want to show defeat, so I grab my

because I knew you’d like unisex name. I’m the one

things and run out. As I leap out of the front doors,

who also-”

something tells me to stop, but I just want to escape this

“You don’t even know my birth name! I’ve re-

place. Leave it all behind for place where gender doesn’

cently started going by Alex and my parents refuse to

t matter and people and can just be...

use it. When I was five, I got punished for playing with a


toy truck. And you sure as hell wasn’t there when I was

11 and I cut my hair.” Checking me for any signs of

“-child,” the doctors continues.

something being off. Now checking his gadget. Some-

“Wait, what?” I asked turning to face Taurs.

thing, clearly, is wrong. But they don’t want to lead on.

Hoping they could answer the question for me, but the

All it is doing is fueling the anxiety in the pit of my stom-

look on their said otherwise. Still with look of disbelief on

ach that has only subsided for the moment.

their face. Something is off but I can’t quite place it. Get-

“Are you sure you remember correctly,” they ask

ting hit by a car really throws your memory for a loop, I

again like I’m going to change my mind. Like I don’t


know what I mean.

As I look on I watch my father cut my umbilical cord. I

“It’s my life, of course I remember. As much as I’ve tried

touch my belly button remembering and watching him

to forget. And I remember where I’ve seen you before.

cut it too long. I had an outie until 7th grade. I look down

You used to sit at the coffee shop on Peachtree Ave. I

at my hands and then up at his. They appear to be a lot

would walk past you everyday on my way to school.”

smaller than had imagined. Gazing at my father, I stop

“This can’t be...” Taurs whispered under their

at his slightly broad shoulders and watch as the doctors

voice while looking at his gauge. Turning to face me

wash me off. Bundling me up in a green blanket before

they say, “Come come, let’s take a look.” They pressed

handing me to my mother.

a button on the gauge and we were transported to another place entirely.

“It was a pink blanket. I saw that in picture...I think,” I say as I rub my head. Is my memory slipping because I’m dead? Can’t be. I remember all the other


details from pictures. How could I get the color of a blanket so wrong. No. No, it was pink. My heart aches eve-

We’re transported into a hospital delivery room. “This is

rytime I see how that gender was thrown on me since

your birth,” Taurs announced. “That’s me over there

birth. And I hate it so much that I’d never forget. Not

vowing to protect you through this beautiful life.” I glance

that. Not now. Not ever. So, what did I just see, exactly?

around the room, knowing that this was my parents’

If it’s not a memory, can it be my hopes and dreams

happiest moment and they made sure to tell me about it

coming true?

every time I strayed from their vision on me.

Playing with his gadget again, Taurs blurted, “Of

They had a hard time getting pregnant and, as a

course you don’t remember your birth! Let’s go to a time

result, were much older than the parents of my friends

that I know you’ll remember. Maybe it’ll all come back to

growing up. They didn’t seem to mind because I was

you then.” Then they murmured, “Or I’ll start to worry

their miracle baby. “God has blessed us with you,” they

that I messed up yet again.” Taurs push another button

would always say. Coming back to the present, or pre-

and we’re wisped away through the nothingness place.

sent here anyways, I watch myself come into this cruel

Next, we drop into my old bedroom. Bed tucked

world. Beautiful. I wonder what went wrong from there to

in the corner. Gray walls with a white trim except for a

make me the family’s embarrassment.

patch on the door where the old pink wall coloring still

The doctors say with joy, “Congratulations on your healthy bab-”

showing. As to not cover up old height entries, the last entry reading “4 years old”. There I am sitting on the

“Baby girl,” I interject, “my dad always tells this

floor playing with my toys - a Barbie duct taped to the

story when I correct him when he misgenders me…” I

top of an RC remote control car. Seeing myself happy

say to Taurs.

and playing brings a smile to my face as I start to re-

member this day.

As a toddler I was never allowed to play with

less it was a simulation I created of myself. I can’t even

imagine this kind of life playing out, though I dreamt of

toys “meant” for the opposing gender. As a mischie-

it every night. What a life it would be if I could stay in

vous kid, I also hid a few in my room, stealing toys from

this moment forever. But the reality of it all is bringing

kids at school and neighbors because my parents

up so many emotions, and the world fades to black

wouldn’t buy them for me. Then there’s a knock on the


door and I close my eyes and brace for what’s about to



Back to the nothingness. Taurs turns away from

My smile is wiped off my face as I realize what

me, ashamed, no longer disbelief. They messed up and

is about to take place. The door opens before the me in

he knows it. But how? “How could I have been so off?”

the memory can react to the knock. If I had had time I

they asked.

would have quickly hid the toy car. And waited for the

I snapped, screaming, “What kind of guardian

door to open with just a Barbie in my hand, thinking of

angel are you if you don’t even know anything about

what to say. She looked at me, then immediately to the

my life? You have only been there for me at my death!

controller in my hand. When our eyes met for the sec-

None of what you just showed me was me. None of it!

ond time I knew I was gonna get it.

Are you even really a guardian angel? You’re pathet-

To my surprise she smiled and walked up to me

ic.” As tears started to roll down their eyes. Overcome

rustling my hair. I looked at Taurs in disbelief. And as if

by painful memories. Seeing what life could have been

he could read my mind he breaks the the silence with,

hurt more than getting hit by a car. It hurt more than

“See, I told you you were a happy kid. And why wouldn’

anything ever has. And they wish they could seek com-

t you be? You have amazing parents. Almost like

fort in the nothingness around them.

someone made your wishes come true.” “That’s not how I remember it,” I argue, balling

“I...I...I’m new to this. And we have been understaffed for years. I didn’t think it was possible but the

my fists up at my sides. This wasn’t real life. This could-

life you had wasn’t supposed to happen if I was there

n’t be! I know what I went through, what I dealt with.

for you. I’m sorry,” Taurs cried.

There was no way. Right? The next place we were brought to was a clothing store.

I didn’t go shopping, ever! The anxiety of hav-

“It doesn’t matter now, because I’m dead,” I said. “Well, maybe you deserve a second chance.” “Really? Because I’d die for the chance to live a

ing to shop in store. Having to waste hours combing

life worth living and I’d live it to the fullest. Free from the

through the “men’s” and “women’s” side just to put to-

boxes and norms this life tried to force upon. I’d like to

gether an outfit. Then having to try it on. I couldn’t do

live the life that you showed me. Could you do that?!”

it. By the age of thirteen I already felt defeated, to the

“I am Taurs, I can do anything.”

point of not wanting to try [anymore]. Instead of going

And with a snap of their finger we wisp away through

to stores I’d settle for the convenience of online shop-

the nothingness until we are once again in that hospital


room. Taurs is there smiling down on me when I open But there I am, looking so confident, like I feel

like I belong in the skin that I wear. Who is that, because I’ve never felt this kind of joy in how I looked un-

my eyes. I was reborn, and my true life began.

Untitled (2017), digital illustration. Art by Juno Morrow

Otter Cliffs I Art by Zeraph Dylan Moore

Otter Cliffs II Art by Zeraph Dylan Moore

Zeraph Dylan Moore is a Maine-based mixedmedia abstract artist obsessed with texture, subtle tonal shifts and brilliant color. His work incorporates acrylics, paper, inks, gold and silver leaf, enameled copper, and embroidery. In these works, Dylan explores the colors and textures of natural places. Dylan is well-travelled across the United States. In 2007, he worked as a wetlands rehabilitator on the Mississippi gulf coast after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina and experienced the lush and jungle-like marshes and swamps of that area, which often are referenced in his work. He then travelled to America’s Pacific Northwest by train and for the first time saw extraordinary prairie and temperate rainforest landscapes from the gorgeous Empire Builder train line. Returning to Maine, he pursued a degree in ecology but left as he realized his interest in the natural world was artistic more than scientific. Additionally he had also begun to suffer from a severe neuro-immune metabolic illness called CFS/ME (chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis). This disease changed his life radically, resulting in a deeper investment in art, spirituality, and simply being present. Dylan identifies as a nonbinary trans man. He has been out since 2002 and began taking testosterone in

2016. Transitioning as a nonbinary person has allowed him to recognize and address the burden of dysphoria and trauma he was carrying. Today, most of his work is created while sitting in bed, where he also blogs and creates videos about improving his health, making art and finding purpose in a radically nontraditional life.

http://www.grind-studio.com http://www.grind-studio.com/blog


Interview by Rachel Lau (they/them)

Support inQluded on GoFundMe https:// www.gofundme.com/ support-lgbtqia-youth-ofcolor

medina is a Honduran nonbinary trans adoptee with

It wasn’t until last year where I was working at a

Cerebral Palsy who lives in NYC. They will be re-

drop-in center for homeless youth that I had the op-

ceiving an MFA in Writing for Children at The New

portunity to create and facilitate weekly creative

School. As a New School Impact Entrepreneur

writing workshops. We grew to having 22 consistent

Graduate Fellow, their venture is to create inclusive

members. I didn’t sleep!

youth-led safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ POC. It was there that I realized that I should be going How did the idea for inQluded occur to you?

back to school to get an MFA in Creative Writing.

What would the world look like if we were all accept-

That was my first love.

ed for exactly who we are? How would you feel if you woke up everyday knowing that you’d be accepted for who you are. Beautiful. A couple of years ago I had created an platform for musical artists. The platform existed online as an interview magazine and offline as I curated a series of musical events throughout the city. I was very intentional with always including LGBTQIA+ people

of color and women on the line-ups because I felt that the music industry severely marginalized these

medina is currently pursuing their MFA in Creative

groups of people.

Writing (Writing for Children and Young Adults) at The New School in New York City. They earned

After a while I began to realize that being in the mu-

their Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies

sic industry was not the most healthy of environ-

from Emerson College. They are passionate about

ments for me so I stopped. But there was still a de-

facilitation, community building, and the develop-

sire for me to mobilize a community of people and

ment of programming that engages youth.

create something that valued their passions. I sat with this idea for almost a year.

So when they applied for grad school, they also ap-

plied to their Impact Entrepreneur Fellowship pro-

up, they will become part of the publishing and liter-

gram and pitched their venture idea, inQluded.

ary community. They will be our future mentors, teachers, facilitators, editors, literary agents, librari-

What is your vision for inQluded as a platform?

ans, and authors, etc.

It’s so important for youth of color and emerging writers and creatives of colors to have access to

Some might think that inQluded will be a purely

LGBTQIA+ spaces. While there are a handful of plat-

online platform, but that’s not the plan, right? There

forms for queer people, I’ve always felt they were

are other aspects you’re planning on introducing.

inaccessible to youth and emerging writers. So that’s

Could you speak to the importance of having all of

part of what my unfolding vision.

these elements within the same platform? Exactly. The online magazine is only a piece of the

My vision includes and values a spectrum of diverse

platform. I envision creative writing workshops facili-

voices with the idea that emerging voices need to be

tated by QTPOC writers, mentorship programs, a

invited to the table to innovate and collaborate. This

book club, open mic nights, music + art events,

is not my platform. It’s ours. Let’s see what we can

meetups, in-school residencies and ongoing collabo-

do together.

rations with like-minded organizations. It’s so important to connect offline and build a community face

I decided to create this platform [because] I feel it’s

-to-face. It’s important we reclaim our spaces online

important for QTPOC young writers to have access

and offline.

to this space. The structural racism in the publishing industry is alarming. In many ways the publishing industry are gatekeepers and supporters. Lee and Low Books found that the overall industry is 79% white and 88% straight. If the industry hires more diverse staff and promotes diverse staff this will start shaking the norm/trends.

The visibility of queer QTPOC narratives will give these writers who are sidelined an opportunity to gain experience, immerse themselves in a supportive community, have access to information and education (through mentorship programs, discussion panels, resources given on site.)

medina has written for a number of publications, including The Establishment, them.us, Yes, Poetry,

The hope is that mainstream media will see that

Hispanedotes and more (links at the end of this arti-

LGBTQIA+ community has more to offer than just


stories about their identities. This will help support change within the literary industry. As the teens grow

How did writing find you?

your creative endeavours?

I’ve always loved reading and watching TV and

I deeply admire We Need Diverse Books and Peo-

movies. One day when they were rolling the credits

ple of Color in Publishing. Their initiatives have cre-

for a movie it said “Based on the book by…”. And I

ated community, visibility and opportunity to count-

was like, what?! You can make a movie from a

less marginalized folx. Also, someone who I think is

book? It was then when I decided I wanted to be a

so creative, innovative and a fierce ally to people of

writer or a screenwriter. I would watch TV shows

color is Phillip Picardi.

and then write a script for the next episode and then basically force my friend to tape me acting and directing in my own show. I think I started keeping a journal (actually, a diary with a lock and key) when I was in first grade. I wrote in my diary every single day. I wrote about my crushes, short stories and poems. My diary was the first friend I came out to. Writing has always helped me process my thoughts, feelings and better understand myself and the world around me. I thought words were so beautiful. Words were and are an ubiquitous part of my being. In love, in rage, in peace, in confusion, in sadness, words were my refuge. When I began to write, I began to exist. I noticed that you intentionally write your name in lower case as "medina"; what is the intention behind that?

Do you have any advice for those trying to build

their own platforms? If you feel passionate about building your own platform, do it. Do it because the world needs it, because you need it. You will find the right people who share your same mission and will want to support your platform. Don’t worry about if anyone will like it because someone will. We are more alike than different. Sometimes it feels like we are shouting into

I’m happy you’re asking me this. I’m sure people

this empty void, but I promise people are listening

have thought to ask, but never have, so you’re the

and are wanting to connect and feel seen and

first person to actually ask me! I don’t think my an-

heard. Sometimes, we have to make the first move.

swer is going to be as thrilling as you may want it to be. Capitalizing the first word of a sentence and proper nouns is what conventional English tells us we must do. I don’t particularly want to be conventional in anything I do. Who have been your inspirations and or/ mentors in

https://www.leeandlow.com/about-us/the-diversitybaseline-survey https://theestablishment.co/food-adoption-and-thelanguage-of-love/ https://www.them.us/story/see-me

By Lu Zwanziger (they/them)

By Leif Gifford (they/he) Leif is a multi-media artist, zinester, and community organizer based in Toronto, Canada. You may know them from their work as Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ENBY Magazine. Their body of work is available online on Instagram at @achievingfusion.

You may be wondering what non-binary identities and drag have to do with each other. A few months ago, I had never seen a non-binary drag performer; to me, drag seemed like an enforcing of gender stereotypes associated with the binary. As I learned later, that couldn’t be further from the case.

Majic Dyke is a genderqueer drag king performer based in Washington DC. They discovered the drag scene there about a This epiphany came from watching the everyear ago and has popularized RuPaul’s Drag Race, who’s showbeen performing runner, RuPaul, came under fire from the trans ever since. Drag community at large for transphobic rhetoric. It has changed left a bad taste in my mouth, thinking that drag their life in ways was, in and of itself transphobic. they never knew Once I started watching the show, it became were possible more and more apparent that the queens each and it really helped them come to terms with a season were using drag as a tool to express lot of their fears and insecurities surrounding themselves in a world that doesn’t let us be our- gender and sexuality. selves. Moreover, many queens over the years Majic Dyke says that “this art form has given me from the show have come out, both on screen the space to create and recreate myself time and not, and they provide powerful representation to future generations as to what trans peo- after time. The birth of my drag king persona, Majic Dyke, was a major turning point in my life. ple look like. Yes, we can do drag, too. I discovered my power and my place in this The first non-binary performer I saw was a local world through my gender bending art.” QTPOC posting their drag looks on Instagram and talking about the euphoria that comes from This idea of a persona is pivotal to non-binary people doing drag, as Majic notes. “Drag has playing with expression on stage. How gender become such a vital part of my existence. I am can be an experience, a performance, somegenderqueer; this was brought to light a year thing to mold, and shed, and mold again. How gender, expression, and identity do not have to into my drag career. I didn't know just how fluid I be static; after all, they can change every night. was in my gender expression until I was in a community that gave me the space to explore To find out more, I spoke to some non-binary myself without the fear of judgement.” drag performers and asked them for their perKater Tot, another non-binary drag performer spectives on doing drag. that we spoke to, had similar things to say re-

garding their experience. Kater Tot describes their work as physical comedy, burlesque, genderfuck, character acting, and cosplay.

act. The roots of drag run deep within our community, culture, and history. Majic recounts why drag is important to them. “I come from a very religious family background. My family roots trace back to Nairobi, Kenya, which is where I was born and raised. A majority of my life was spent feeling deeply ashamed because in my culture, open expression of queerness is a death sentence. I lived a very quiet and closeted life and it wasn't until I started doing drag that I truly emerged as my authentic self.

The drag and burlesque community here in Washington DC welcomed me with open arms and this is where I fully immersed myself in queer culture. I learned about the complexities of gender and sexuality through the beautiful humans who shared their stories with me and empowered me by shining light on all the dark They [gender identity and expression] definitely corners of my life. The people around me flow into one another. I experience my gender showed me what unconditional love looked like identity/expression as very fluid, and the acts I and that it was possible to receive genuine acbring to the stage reflect this. Feminine, mascu- ceptance in all my forms.” line, potato...” Kater Tot explains. And they To Kater Tot, they see drag as feeling “like findmean potato - literally. ing my voice in this art form opened [a] Pan“Drag to me simply means experimenting/ playing with gender. There's usually some type of persona involved, and sometimes the persona is a character closer to who I am and sometimes far different... but all are extensions of myself.

“I experience it all and everywhere in between. It feels great to not have to shove myself into a box of precon ceived notions of what ‘drag’ or a ‘drag king’ are... my drag is an elevated, performative version of who I already am.” Drag is not, and has never been, a superficial

dora's Box of all these unexpressed feelings I was secretly and subconsciously hiding. I've gained a better understanding of who I am. Performing is where I let it all out, and it's where I'm closest to being 100 percent myself around other people. It can feel vulnerable to get on stage so naked and unfiltered... but really, there's nothing like rocking the hell out of a crowd... to then come off feeling totally validated for standing so confidently in who you are.” As for advice? These performers have plenty. “I would wholeheartedly support that and say, ‘go for it!’ Let your imagination run wild and explore the endless possibilities of who you are [and] who you could become. Not only are there people that would cheer you on, but there are

countless quietly watching and being deeply inspired by your work. Trust me,” says Majic. Don't get hung up in fitting in or blending in,” says Kater Tot. “Do. Whatever. You. Want. However. You. Want. Your identity is valid, and you should feel the freedom to express that in whatever way you choose.”

“Drag to me simply means experimenting/ playing with gender,” says Kater Tot. “There's usually some type of persona involved, and sometimes the persona is a character closer to who I am and sometimes far different... but all are extensions of myself.

I've fallen under the trap of thinking in order for my drag to be valid, I had to lip sync every act, Of course, there are plenty of misconceptions regarding non-binary people, never mind those or had to be a convincing male illusionist since I am a female at birth... but it isn't a requirement. of us performing in drag. I myself had my own misconceptions about drag long before knowing I'm most drawn to the performers who respect that it was a possibility for non-binary people. I standards in the industry, but in the end break asked Majic and Kater Tot which misconception out of that and do things their own way.” they would most like to challenge. What I have learned from this experience, and from keeping an open mind when seeing content by drag performers of all genders, is that drag is a perfect opportunity to break the gender binary. It’s been a way of breaking the binary for decades before I was born, and I’m sure it will be for decades after. It is a beautiful kind of art and form of selfexpressiveness. Drag on!

“The one misconception that I'd like to challenge is the notion that you have to do drag a certain way,” says Majic. “Whether you're a drag king, a drag queen, or a drag artist - your art belongs to you and you have the power to express yourself as you see fit. Whether your drag is hypermasculine, or hyperfeminine, or a blend of both, or neither, embrace it and own it. Don’t let anyone impose their opinions of how you should create on you.”

By A.Z. Louise

she breaks my lips open soursop soft with a question

answers clotting fast on parchment paper imaginings hide a prayer with a swallow put bruises in the gaps of all that is soft when nothing stays nothing and soothe what comes unbound

too tired to sleep i let it go like a coughing fit shift up and out and give away meat and bone

wild jay-scream rising silence falling the longness of it is sandpaper grit i know no other way to beg

i was swallowing jacks without the rubber ball brass seeds sprouting crooked vines in search of an unopened skylight slip a knife from between my teeth in favor of softer, easier places carve a flat plane down to the ribs and turn over the soil smother the weeds until they grow colorless and die before the double bounce

you were slime-mold sick by the big slanted rock among the aspens everything in the world going amber for both of us I shivered, my skin a pinto coat under the canopy of leaves

the movement of unseen things bringing up goosebumps

you couldn't even feel them, and I couldn't explain that the forest held danger you had never known and never could you climbed up on the stone to see what was beyond the pendant leaves your form blown out against the pale sky

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