Queer Bodies #queerbodies #sonevents.
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Shades of Noir Presents
BROWN QUEERS. A film by Michelle William Gamaker
Brown Queer is a docufiction by one of Shades of Noirâ€™s friends Michelle William Gamaker. The film follows the lives of three individuals who identify as queer. The work details their feelings and personal expressions as they navigate home and professional lives, and the establishment of non-binary self-definition without apology. Image Credits: Dan Fontanelli 42 // QUEER BODIES.
WELCOME. â€œQueer black and Brown bodies are under threat. Everyday becomes a battle of survival for queer folks of colour, but our bodies are also under the threat of not surviving history. The history of queerness in Eastern cultures is either erased or has often been misrepresented. Our lives have always been appropriated by mainstream media. It has become a belief that queer bodies of colour are a myth, that queerness is only the result of influences of the Western world, however queer bodies of colour have always existed, if you look closely enough there are traces of them left in art-works and poetry, proving that our ancestors may have experienced the world in a similar way to the way we experience it today. Queer bodies will continue to live in power, but how can we make our mark on history? Can art and activism be a proof of our existence?â€? Katy Jalili, Event Lead
Our Safe Space Policy. Shades of Noir is committed to providing an inclusive and supportive space for all attendees at our events. SoN believes all guests should be free from intimidation or harassment, resulting from prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, marital or maternity/paternity status, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, trans status, socio-economic status, or ideology or culture, or any other form of distinction.
Disability Access Needs? Please do let us know if you have any disability access needs e.g do you use British sign language, have difficulty using stairs, or need us to allow space for a guide dog? Let us know asap so we can do our best to accommodate you!
Social Media Throughout the event, please tweet, instagram, facebook as much or as little as you like. We will be using the hashtags; #queerbodies and #sonevents.
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KEY QUESTIONS. • • • • • •
What does reclaiming the word Queer mean to us today? Are issues facing the general LGBTQI even worse for Queer people of colour? Considering: immigration, economy, education, etc... Where does safety exist for LGBTQI people of colour? How Does the queer identity distinguish itself from the LGBT community? The media always paints a bleak picture about minority groups having a low tolerance to LGBTQI rights in the West and yet Black lives matter was started by three queer women of colour. How does this transform our understanding of queer rights for people of colour?
KEY DATA. It is not possible to measure queer identity by numbers, and it putting queerness into charts can arguably defeat the point of calling oneself queer. However the data is a necessary source whilst the fight for justice continues. The data gathered by the Office of National Statistics show considerably low LGBTQ+ statistics. It is again important to consider the reasoning behind this. One particular factor may be the lack of education received on identity and sexual orientation. It has always been a factor that queer folk live either secret or undocumented lives, Which is why it is important to continue the conversation on Queer Bodies today.
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QUEER BODIES. // 3
THE SHADE OF IT ALL. A thought from the Event Lead
About three years ago, I went to an event called Pale Male Stale. The panelists included three admirable women that I still inspire to this day: Aisha Richards, Malia Bouattia, and Shelly Asquith. Aisha Richards introduced Shades Of Noir at the event and talked about the work they were doing around diversity. It was probably the first time I acknowledged that there was a difference between me and my classmates. The fact that I wasnâ€™t pale, male or from a wealthy background, realising that all these factors could affect my studies and my future was difficult. However, hearing Aisha speaking on that panel didnâ€™t leave me feeling hopeless. I felt like I too could do something about the state of diversity, representation and power distribution within the arts.
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Two years later I was employed by SoN, and it has made a big impact on my life. I lost and gained friends because of the content I started to write and the knowledge I have gained. Almost like a dragon that was frustrated for years for being a minority in many ways, it was unleashed and I became unstoppable. Woke. As a woman of colour, working with Shades of Noir gave me the strength to have my voice heard and share it. It was the first and only place that I felt allowed to be myself without whitewashing. In a way being so free to express my feelings, Ideas and experiences, helped me shape who I am today, and for that, I only have the SoN team to thank. We live in a society where if you are part of a marginalised group, you are told that your experiences are invalid and then tricked into submitting to society’s norms, however I felt celebrated for my differences when I joined the team. My ideas were respected, in a way they had never been before, and my experiences were valued and I helped create events that helped other students in so many ways, which they told me about. The first event that I helped curate and chaired was the ‘Beyond Gender’, which both challenged and boosted my confidence in publicly speaking on gender politics. This has now become one of my strengths and areas of expertise whilst working for SoN. Now a year later, I’m leading on my third event “Queer Bodies”, an event that explores the relationship between the queer body and race, which I see as my legacy to SoN. I've presented at academic conferences nationally and write about what I have gained, felt and learnt through this journey. If it hadn’t been for the encouragement of the team and my growth in the past year, I wouldn’t have been able to lead an event which has such a personal impact on me. I have developed my voice and I am able to share information as well as complex thoughts and feelings. Aisha always says ‘be part of the change I want to see’, and it is this that I have continued to develop and share. I hope you enjoy this event! Katy
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Words by an SoN Contributor
Image from Brown Queers. Image Credits: Dan Fontanelli
How can peace be brokered between two parties when one does not even recognise the conflict as a conflict but as love, as loving? Pain is inflicted, violence enacted for the purpose of loving. When my mother tells me my homosexual relationship will go nowhere because of gender incompatibilities, I am told it’s done in my best interests. And so I cage my anger. I have been angry at my parents for a long time now, for many reasons but their responses to my queerness is a particularly salient one. I keep my anger in check by remembering that homophobia in West Africa is a colonial legacy, a Western import. My love and my desire for their continued loving also tempers my anger. I wish I could scream at them sometime ‘Look what you have done to me!’ but I know they wouldn’t understand. They seem too deeply entrenched in colonial thinking and it is too painful when I try to draw them out of it, and evidently too much for them to handle. My awareness of my relative privilege as a queer person pacifies my anger somewhat. When I came out to my parents I had been, like many queer people of colour, preparing for the worst. My father had threatened to kick me out and disown me a few times; my parents had both given sermons warning against homosexuality a few times; they told 6 // QUEER BODIES.
me about older gay men having to wear diapers; told me gay men were paedophiles. I was constantly aware of my parents homophobia. Queer childhood for most of us was violent and continues to be for queer youth today. In the UK, a quarter of homeless youth are LGBT, 69 percent of whom were forced out of home, 62% having experienced aggression and/or physical violence. In Scotland, 61% of LGBT youth report having experienced some form of abuse. 44% of LGBT youth have attempted suicide and 52% have self-harmed. For QTPOC, especially first or second generation immigrants, the likelihood that we experience some abuse from loved ones is higher than our white counterparts, and so too probably, is the likelihood of self harm. Coming out for me then, was a comparatively pleasant experience. My mother, the only parent I actually came out to hugged me as I cried and told me she loved me, that I would always be her son but she did not, and could not, accept my homosexuality. My father, a week or so later tried to convince me to marry a woman and do the ‘responsible’ thing. But he did not kick me out or disown me. I felt, and sometimes still feel that I overreacted by preparing for the worst. I know my parents love me but I remember the numerous times I wished I’d never been born because then my mother would not have to deal with the mental turmoil of having a gay son. I realise now this turmoil pales in comparison to that of being the ‘gay son’*. My mother still wonders what she did wrong. 5 years later she’s still quoting Leviticus to me. She does this out of her love for me. I remember that I came out to my mum hoping it would bring us closer, with the hope that I would not have to drift further away from her. But now we barely speak and when we do it’s brief as I avoid mentioning major parts of my life. I want to say my parents are not aware of the way their love is violent to me, or at least their way of showing that love, but I have told them explicitly on many occasions. When my mother took me to have the gay prayed away shortly after I came out to her the only thing I said on the way home was how much it hurt and that she should never do it again. A couple of months ago she sent me an interview with an ex-gay Yoruba man who, like me, had been sexually abused as a child. But she is the same woman who dropped everything to help me setup my final show as I panicked and broke down under stress. It is difficult to disentangle this violent loving from the other, better, ways they show their love to me. It is difficult to engage with my parents when their love for me seems to necessarily entail a desire to eliminate my queerness, my knowing of myself. I know my parents are waiting for my relationship to end, in short for me to be unhappy. I know they desire my unhappiness. I know of their violent hopes of seeing my queerness die. What loving parents. #queerbodies #sonevents.
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My parents showing me love in nonviolent ways usually just makes me feel guilty. Though my anger is caged, it is always there. Coming home, a thing I avoid to my parent’s confusion, is usually my going into hiding. I tone down my queerness at home and at their church. I hide in part because I don’t want to deal with the stress but also because I love them… I still don’t want them to face the drama of having a ‘gay son’. I don’t want to make their life slightly more difficult: having to have tough conversations with their friends and our extended family; or having their positions within the RCCG (Redeemed Christian Church of God, a massive international Nigerian Pentecostal church) possibly compromised. I am still scared that they will reject me, that they’ll choose their comfort over me. I’ve been trying to agitate in some way recently. Going home this Christmas, I wore two large hoop earrings, which on my body and to my parents is a queer signifier; spoke to my boyfriend loudly on the phone, sat next to my parents, exchanged ‘I love yous’ within earshot of them. I find it strange and sad that small actions like these generate so much anxiety within myself and within my parents. While my parents did not mention my boyfriend once, my decision to wear my earrings resulted in me being unable to go to a family dinner and lots of anger and tears on my part. I’ve also started adding family members on my social media, knowing sooner or later they’ll come across my queerness. This tactic has been somewhat successful. I uploaded a picture of my boyfriend and myself onto Facebook on new year’s day and a few days later received a message from my mother. She’d heard about the picture from one of her sisters who had heard about it from another sister who I’d added. My mother told me to delete her. I wonder if that is some progress, that she didn’t ask me to delete the picture instead. *Later still, I realised that I was not a ‘son’ and so I was not gay. I am a nonbinary child of my parents. My parents don’t know this and probably will not know for a long time being, apparently unwilling to learn about the world and to complicate their worldviews. And at this moment, I do not think I have the strength or patience for a second coming out.
8 // QUEER BODIES.
Chandra Frank (Dutch/South African) is a PhD candidate and independent curator. She holds an MPhil in African Studies from the University of Cape Town and is currently a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her work is focused on the Black, Migrant and Refugee womenâ€™s movement in the Netherlands during the 1980s. She explores the role of archives, Black and brown feminist genealogy and the politics of pleasure and resistance. In her curatorial practice, Frank is interested in uncovering hidden queer stories, refiguring the archive and thinking towards decolonial and queer modes of research, curating and healing. To this end, Frank has written various articles, given lectures and presented papers. She has written for Africa is A country, Discover Society, Warscapes and is published in Third Text Africa. Chandra Frank is a 2016 ICA (Institute for the Creative Arts) Curatorial Fellow at the University of Cape Town.
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Evan Ifekoya’s current work investigates the possibility of an erotic and poetic occupation using moving image, performative writing and sound, focused on co-authored, intimate forms of knowledge production and the radical potential of spectacle. Upcoming exhibitions include ‘Kind of Flossy’ curated by CREAM at Assembly Point and ‘Wandering/ Wildness’ curated by Lagacy Russell at IMT Gallery, both in London. Ifekoya has recently presented work at Serpentine Gallery, Transmission Glasgow. Wysing Arts Centre, Stevenson Gallery Cape Town, Jerwood Space, Whitstable Biennial (2016) and David Roberts Art Foundation, FramerFramed and Studio Voltaire (2015). Collaborative projects include Collective Creativity: Critical reflections into QTIPOC creative practice and Network11.
Hengameh Yaghoobifarah Hengameh Yaghoobifarah is a Berlinbased journalist, columnist, blogger, community organiser, activist and editor of the queer feminist magazine Missy Magazine. They successfully completed their BA in Cultural and Media Sciences and Scandinavian Sciences at Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg. As well as Linköping University specifically focussing on the topics of media aesthetics, popular culture, body politics, gender, anti-racism and fashion. On their queer fa(t)shion blog QueerVanity.com, they portray people who challenge normative standards of beauty and desirability through fashion. 10 // QUEER BODIES.
Sahaya James (Chair)
Sahaya James is a British born mixed heritage aspiring filmmaker currently studying animation at London College of Communication. She is President of UAL Labour, sits on the National Union of Students National Executive Council and organises with the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, a democratic grassroots collective of students, education workers and activists fighting for an education that is free, democratic, accessible and liberated. She harbours an unrealistic and thereby healthy dream of becoming a film director even just an inch as good as the ones that have beguiled her most.
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KEY TERMS. Ally
A person of one social identity group who stands up in support of members of another group; typically a member of a dominant group standing beside member(s) of a group being discriminated against or treated unjustly.
Assigned female at birth
Assigned male at birth
The classification of sex and gender into two distinct, opposite and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine.
A member of a dark-skinned people, especially one of African, Australian and Caribbean Aboriginal ancestry. A term used in certain countries, often in socially based systems of racial classification or of ethnicity.
The belief that sexism, class oppression, gender identity and racism are impossible to separate. These concepts relate to each other through intersectionality
The term refers to the practices and policies through which powers of society regulate the human body, as well as the struggle over the degree of individual and social control of the body. The powers at play in body politics include institutional power expressed in government and laws, disciplinary power exacted in economic production, discretionary power exercised in consumption, and personal power negotiated in intimate relations
A person who identifies with the gender that was assigned for them at birth
Unlike racism which only white people can be the perpetrators, people of colour can aide colourism in their communities by favouring lighter skinned black and brown skin tones. This is a trickle down effect of white racism. Also known as Shadism.
A Person of the Indian subcontinent or South Asian diaspora. Desi countries include; Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
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Scattered population whose origin lies within a smaller geographic locale. Diaspora can also refer to the movement of the population from its original homeland.
Also known as Gender Dysphoria, is an experience of discomfort or disconnect with one's assigned gender, often accompanied by a strong desire to change one's sex to better match their identity or to be called the correct gendered language.
In general terms, consists of China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Japan,South Korea and North Korea; sometimes, Mongolia and Vietnam are included in the definition.
Female genital mutilation (FGM)
Female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as female circumcision) refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical Reasons
A set of behaviours, presentations and roles which are culturally associated with being a woman and/or possessing female sex characteristics. People of any gender identity or sexual orientation can be feminine, but those who are assigned female at birth often experience societal pressure to be so.
Femme is a feminine gender role which is sometimes used as a gender identity. The term femme originated in communities of lesbian and bi women. This term has been increasingly adopted by trans women and others in the transgender community. Those who identify as femme may have the gender identity of woman and have a strongly feminine gender expression, or they may use femme as a non-binary gender identity aligned with femininity.
Gender is a an expression of the reenactment of certain roles. it may differ from time to time.
Refers to the way that a person uses appearance, mannerisms and other personal traits to communicate their gender. Gender expression can be any or a combination of masculine, feminine and androgynous traits.
A gender identity which refers to a gender which varies over time. A gender fluid person may at any time identify as male, female, neutrois, or any other non-binary identity, or some combination of identities.
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Gender queer is an umbrella term with a similar meaning to nonbinary. It can be used to describe any gender identities other than man and woman, thus outside of the gender binary.
The belief that people can only fall into distinct and complementary genders (man and woman) with fixed traditional gender roles. It assumes that heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation or the only norm.
Prejudice against the queer community
A perspective within feminism that doesn't exclude people from the movement based on their Gender, Race and Class.
A term coined by KimberlĂŠ Crenshaw which examines how social identities are used as a way to discriminate against marginalised groups who experience multiple forms of oppression simultaneously. Specifically women of colour who suffer from both gender and racial discrimination.
An intersex person is has sex characteristics e.g.sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, and/or chromosome patterns that do not fit the typical definition of male or female. This may be apparent at birth or become so later in life.
To relegate to the fringes, out of the mainstream; make seem unimportant:to place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power.
A set of behaviours, presentations and roles which are culturally associated with being a man and/or possessing male sex characteristics. People of any gender identity or sexual orientation can be masculine, but those who are assigned male at birth often experience societal pressure to be so.
"A social system in which females hold primary power, predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property at the specific exclusion of men, at least to a large degree. An example of a matriarchal society is Moja village in Northern Kenya founded by Rebecca Lolosoli.â€?
A term referring to misogyny directed towards Black women, where race and gender both play roles in bias.
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Non-binary gender describes any gender identity which does not fit within the binary of male and female.
When a person or a group of people are subjected to unfair treatment by those in position of power.
"A social system in which Males hold primary power, predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property at the specific exclusion of men, at least to a large degree.â€?
A concept that describes when conservative and capitalist institutions or political campaigns promote LGBT friendliness in order to seem progressive with the aim of making profit.
Person/People of colour
Hatred towards someone based on their identity. Example: An oppressed person of colour can be prejudiced against privileged races but cannot be racist.
A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.
A word that can function as a noun phrase used by itself and that refers either to the participants in the discourse. People with various gender identities choose pronouns they feel comfortable with; some people may have more than one pronoun.
Queer, Trans and Intersex People of Colour
An umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities that are not heterosexual and/or cisgender
Similar to Homophobia, describes a fear or hatred of queer folk (any one who is not heterosexual)
The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. The term suggests the demand for basic redefinitions of all facets of society.
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Radical feminism suggests that the answer to social problems can be a complete restructuring of how society defines human experience. In a contemporary sense radical feminist views are known to be transmisogynist because of their biological essentialist views.
Refers to equality in opportunity and visibility. For example, representative media is media that is reflective of the variety of races, cultures, genders or religions that its entire readership belongs to.
Self Defining women A person who identifies as a woman, regardless of what gender was assigned for them at birth Sex
Denotation of human females and males depending on biological features (chromosomes, sex organs, hormones and other physical features)
A person’s sexual identity in relation to the gender to which they are attracted
Refers to a person’s sexual orientation/preferences in terms of sexual activities
A term used to describe transgender people who were assigned male at birth, but identify with femininity to a greater extent than with masculinity.
Trans man is a term which describes someone who is both a man and transgender/transsexual. Trans men were assigned female at birth, but their gender identity is male. They also may be referred to as transmasculine. Trans men can have any sexual orientation.
A term used to describe transgender people who were assigned male at birth, but identify with masculinity to a greater extent than with femininity.
The term transsexual predates the term transgender, but has become less popular as it may imply that sex characteristics are more important than gender identity.
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A term which describes someone who is both a woman and transgender/transsexual. Trans women were assigned male at birth but their gender identity is female. They may also be referred to as transfeminine. Trans women can have any sexual orientation.
The term transgender is an umbrella term for anyone whose internal experience of gender does not match the gender they were assigned at birth .
Prejudice and/or fear towards the Trans folk
A term referring to misogyny directed towards trans women.
A type of feminism that ignores the fight for equality of anyone who doesn't identify as white, cisgender and heterosexual
White supremacy is an ideology centered upon the promotion of the belief, that white people are superior. It is argued by critical race theorist that all white people have a level of white supremacy values because of the media, education and politics have embedded whiteness as superior in society.
A term used to describe white actors or actress playing nonfictional and historical non-white character roles. Therefore writing and disconnecting historical events and achievements to the non-white community.
Women of Colour
Because mainstream feminism goals and ideologies differed to that of the needs of Black women, Alice Walker coined the term womanism where Black Women were at the center of the ideology without the need to racialise how gender plays an important role in the life of Black Women.
Fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.
Learn more gender related keywords here: gender.wikia.com
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I U SHE: PRONOUNS, WHAT’S THAT ALL ABOUT?
By now you have probably heard of someone or know someone who uses nontraditional pronouns, and no this is not a myth or something that is made up and has no social value? In fact, there are more pronouns than you think there are and more people than you could imagine who use them, and they are all as equally valid as traditional pronouns such as She/her and He/him.
The singular “they” has become the word of the year according to the American Dialect Society. Singular they is a gender neutral pronoun used by folks who do not associate with the gender binary on various levels. Although you can still be cis identifying and wish to use They pronouns. They is often thought to be a new trend and damaging to the English language, however, it has been used for a long time. But also the belief that the Queen’s English is the way to speak, and using dictionary definitions written by “pale male stales” is very damaging and not inclusive of diverse class and cultural backgrounds, let alone respecting marginalised folk’s language politics.
Singular They is not the only gender neutral and non-traditional pronoun used, some other gender neutral pronouns you might not have heard of include: Ze/Zie, Ve, Xe. 18 // QUEER BODIES.
Gender politics have found their way into the mainstream, with more celebrities confirming their gender identity as non-binary and opening up the conversation about gender, such as Amandla Stenberg who came out on Tumblr as non-binary to her fans. Gender is complicated, but respect is simple. Non-traditional Pronouns and gender identities need to be taken seriously and to do that we need to decolonise our mind. Why do we speak in the way we do? And who makes up the rules? There’s never only one correct way to speak.
It is also possible to have more than one pronoun, for example, I personally use both She/Her and They/Them pronouns. Another important point to remember is that pronouns are not just about preferences, but it’s about what is right. For example asking : “what pronouns do you prefer” can come across as offensive to some folk as it suggest pronouns are about preference and choice and not very serious. The best way to word the question would be: “What pronouns do you use/ What are your pronouns?” You can ask! It’s perfectly polite and appropriate to ask people’s pronouns, it might be awkward to start with, but it is better to feel awkward to ask a question than misgendering someone. Misgendering means referring to someone using a word/pronoun that does not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify. (If you ever misgender someone, just apologise and don’t make a big deal out of it because that might make the situation worse.)
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Asking people’s pronouns can be a good icebreaker when starting off a discussion or a meeting with a group of people who don’t know each other, you can always offer to do a round of names and pronouns so future mistakes are avoided but also everyone gets a better sense of who one another are.
My Pronoun Journey
The first time I heard someone use They pronouns was about a year ago, and at first I was confused, English not being my first language, and struggling with gender identity myself it slowly made sense to me. There are many languages that are not gendered in the way most languages such as Arabic, English and French are. For example in Farsi which is my mother tongue, a version of singular they is used to refer to everybody at all times. Gendered terms such as “lady” “sir” “darling” are still used but besides those, when talking about a person in Farsi, you are just talking about them as a person with certain attributes, and no need to bring gender into it. A year down the line, I myself have started using They/Them pronouns, but there are various reasons for why people use certain pronouns. For me it doesn't make sense to refer to someone's gender when talking about them, especially living under patriarchy when being a woman/feminine and being referred to as she, is an insult most of the time. Although It does make a difference who refers to me with She pronouns, and if that person identifies with that pronouns and its characteristics or not. I do still identify as a woman and identify with femininity on most days, but my gender is more complicated than that, and being referred to with They/Them pronouns and using the title Mx instead of Miss, Ms, makes me feel more right in my body and about who I am. So yes pronouns can be confusing and take some time to learn, but all you need to do is respect them and educate yourself about pronouns. Here are some helpful links: uwm.edu/lgbtrc/support/gender-pronouns/ gender.wikia.com/wiki/Gender_Wiki lgbt.wisc.edu/documents/Trans_and_queer_glossary.pdf nonbinary.org/wiki/Pronouns www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/08/donald-trump-may-win-thisyears-word-of-the-year/ www.teenvogue.com/story/amandla-stenberg-gender-pronouns-they-them
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A QUEER CONVERSATION WITH DERRAIS CARTER. was very inspired to have a conversation with him. Leading up to our event Queer Bodies, it was a great opportunity to have this conversation. I was interested to know about his experience as a queer person of colour in portland, but to also open a dialogue on queerness with someone who is from different generation to me. Starting up with the difficult question, I asked Derrais “What does queerness mean to him?”
Dr. Derrais (D.A.) Carter is an assistant professor of Black Studies. His research interests include 20th century African American history, black cultural studies, gender and sexuality studies, and popular culture. Derrais is also a member of the Queering Slavery Working Group. This interdisciplinary scholarly collective uses Tumblr to place black queer studies in conversation with the history of enslavement. I first met Dr Carter very briefly at a CREN conference, and hearing his views on the relation between race and queerness I #queerbodies #sonevents.
DC: Queerness in a very general sense to me means what’s at odd with the normal. For many people it helps with issues relating to sexuality, for some folks it’s about the temporary, for some it’s about racial identity. I would be all the above and more. So queerness for me means a rearrangement of what we consider normal, this doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be productive, but it can very well be. SoN: How do you see the representation of “queerness” (not LGBT) in the media? DC: I see it everywhere, for me it’s matter of how to make it legible to ourselves and others. For example, I watch TV shows in which we see friendships that are queer in the way their intimacy is structured, QUEER BODIES. // 21
but we don’t necessarily talk about it a queer. Another example is the concept of “Bromance”, and questioning why it needs to be structured in such heteronormative idea of masculinity. I see queerness everywhere, but we just don’t call it for what it is, which is unfortunate. I often wander about all the things we could be if we gave ourselves permission to play in that grey area, and acknowledge our humanity in those ways. SoN: Personally I distinguish the queer community from LGBT community, because to me LGBT has become too pinkwashed to relate to, do you feel the same about this? DC: My Blackness makes me always already queer. When I think of LGBT I think of whiteness, so LGBT doesn’t do much for me, however Queer aligns more with blackness and how I think through blackness, so I hold onto that. SoN: I think this is an important discussion to bring up especially for the Queer Bodies event, everyone seems to believe that the art world is very highly LGBT influenced and LGBT friendly, but queer politics are rarely spoken about, and not all queer folk want to be placed in the same box as LGBT. You mentioned that when you think of LGBT you think of whiteness, and something that I personally struggle to make sense of is how queerness as a term is very western. And if we believe queerness is about resistance, then how can we as people of color resist using a term that is very white/english and western?
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DC: It’s similar to how I talk about race. For example scholars Stuart Hall talk about how when talking about terms such as race, those terms need to be qualified. So for me “queer” is a placeholder that lets us move to another place and another term. The term should just be a tool to get towards a more precise understanding of human relations. Queerness is not the event, but it allows us to move towards a futurity that we may not fully understand but that we are somehow moving towards. SoN: It seems that for a lot of people of colour, queerness is a love and hate relationship, it gives you comfort but also doesn’t fully feel like a place you can belong. It feels like queerness was taken from our very own traditions by the west, and now it’s being fed back to us. DC: When we realise that historically, even the gender norms and social scripts that we take on, and then move on from them throughout time, how are they then made legible to others? Queerness does some of that job, but we are also very much seduced by white supremacy, and chose what is convenient for us, for some folks queerness is that convenience. SoN: How is the course you teach and you research perceived in a place like Portland which is known to be extremely whitewashed? DC: To be in one of the whitest cities in America and teaching black studies for me is fantastic. My students consist of many brown and black folk some of which who identify as queer, and they are involved in activism. But we live in a city that is constantly pushing people of colour away. However I remind myself that this
is my livelyhood, I grew up here, I want to claim that and continue to do my work. SoN: We constantly need to occupy the institutions and change the histories of those places, for example holding events that cater to people of colour in institutions that have a history of exclusion. There’s a big lack of representation of queer intimacy between black and brown bodies, what are your thoughts on that? DC: I can’t think of too many moments where representation has saved us. Representation puts a lot of work on black and brown folk to help white people recognise that we are also human. However when you live under a white supremacist context, that’s a Tuesday…
happiest self, I’m still angry. At some point I decided to explore what this anger does to me. As a black American who grew up in the south I learned I had to be polite, and living and working in a predominantly white space, sometimes saying no makes me look angry to them, and if they think me disagreeing with something makes me angry (because they can’t see past my blackness), then I might as well go all out... SoN: One last difficult question that I left for last, if you could separate your race from your queerness, which one would you chose? DC: I would choose to stay in my black,cis, male,masc ish body, I wouldn’t choose anything else… No I can’t actually say it, I have to think about it for a while.
SoN: As diasporic brown queer bodies we carry a lot of pain and anger in our bodies, because we constantly fight to fit in. How do you personally overcome this?
SoN: it depends on the day too, some days I would choose my gender over my race and I guess some days I would chose my race
DC: I don’t. Why do I not want to be mad? Black anger to me is one of the greatest gifts. To me it benefits no one if we pretend everything is OK. My anger isn’t going to be used to educate white people, my anger is my anger, it’s part of me claiming my humanity in a world that denies it.
DC: One of my friends says “give me 10 minutes as a whole man and I’d change the world.”
SoN: I’m also interested in different methods people use to overcome these feelings, anger gives us passion, but we also need to take care of our mental health.
SoN: It’s very sad but that seems legitimate! For more info on Derrais’ work check out:
DC: I think my relationship to anger has changed, few years ago it may have paralysed me, but now I can react to my anger. On a day that I’m performing my #queerbodies #sonevents.
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Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, LCC.
What does being queer mean to you? For me, being Queer means having the courage and the strength to be diverse in diversity. Being Queer for me is a state of mind above all; it is the ability to think deeply beyond common thoughts and categories, the ability to formulate multiple answers and at the same time ask more questions about what you see and hear. Being Queer is not only a performative act (your look, hairstyle, gesture); being Queer is being conscious of and loving one’s inner diversity, without changing exteriorly to satisfy and fit into what normative society expects from being diverse. At the same time, it means having the sensitivity to change, to question, to overturn the opinion that the normative society has of diverse. Who are some of the queer activist/artists of colour that inspire you and your work? Lorna Simpson, Frantz Fanon Imagine it was possible to separate intersections (e.g. Brownness from your queerness), would you separate them? If so which do you imagine you could live without? I would never give up any part of me; giving up a part of me would be like being another person. I love who I am today with all my diversity, and I embrace all the parts that make me who I am. How does your work add to the narrative of Queerness? Today diversity still frightens and is still discriminated against; that is what my art work wants to convey. For my project I have been involved in exploring the concept of identity, without having a ‘conventional’ one myself. With the project White I explore the concept of identity/diversity of gender, sex and ‘race’. We live in an historical period in which racism not only conceived as an aversion for ethnic differences, exists in its lowest form: it is now a normative racism, for that more or less everybody still has reactions, behaviours or racist language; however, we are all well aware and attentive of the perils of subtle racism resulting in striking racism, which would lead to being subjected to moralizing social norms. There are back and front issues with racism and other kinds of segregations, which is what my pictures want to convey. Insidious racism is sometimes better tolerated in our society, and discrimination towards gender is something much felt as well. This is why my subjects give their back before showing their faces: when seen from the back, some of this discrimination disappears; on the other hand, some of the preconceptions arising from seeing something from the back, are either reinforced or disappear when seen from the front, and vice versa. 24 // QUEER BODIES.
The light-boxes, which are handmade by me, are intensively light up, with a very brilliant light coming out from every side; I wanted to recreate the white as purity, as waiting, as if my subjects were looking at an artificial Eden at their back, as if their faces were burned or created from that same white light. The audio in the installation is a translation of an abstract from ‘Orgy’, a theatre piece from the Italian director and poet Pier Paolo Pasolini. His works strikingly tackle the conception of diversity, of the ‘diverse’: he has been killed because of being gay and because of exposing what was hidden ‘behind the scenes’, thus challenging the ‘respectability’ of the Italian society and of its fundamental nucleus, family.
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MA Photography, LCC..
What does being queer mean to you? Acceptance of who you are. Who are some of the queer activist/artists of colour that inspire you and your work? Zanele Muholi How does your work add to the narrative of Queerness? Masculine Femininity is about the cultural art performance of a drag queen and the expression of their own gender nonconformity. I found out that drag is their escape to self-exploration and thatâ€™s a way to make there cultural statement. I explored another view of how males identify as a feminist and their representation of a female identity, without attempting to hide their true gender. I started to see how their male physic even strengthens their femininity. This contrast intrigued me while doing this series. I, as a feminist, embrace drag as a skewering of traditional gender roles, defying the social norms of male and female appearance and behaviour and showing the artificiality of femininity and masculinity.
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Fine Art Painting, University of Brighton
What does being queer mean to you? Queer to me, means that my sexuality and identity is non-heteronormative and nonconforming. My queer status, and as a female artist of colour, means that my work challenges heteronormativity and binary gender roles. Being queer means having the freedom to express myself and my art in a way that is authentic to me. It means I live on the margins, but I do everything I can to challenge the status quo and conceptions around queerness. Who are some of the queer activist/artists of colour that inspire you and your work? Ruby Tandoh is a queer writer who has really inspired me with her activism for queer people of colour, and those who have experienced mental health issues and/or eating disorders. She uses her fame - through being a contestant on the Great British Bake Off- to positively shine light on queer, race and mental health issues. Similarly Princess Nokia uses her art to make poignant statements about women, women of colour, tomboys, girls with afros, weaves, braids etc. Her art is inclusive, and itâ€™s rare I see myself represented in Art, which makes it so exciting when queer people of colour such as her are given a platform to raise the issues our community faces.
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Imagine it was possible to separate intersections (e.g. Brownness from your queerness), would you separate them? If so which do you imagine you could live without? If I try to separate them in my head, which is difficult, I can note some differences. I have always known that I was a person of colour, and I have never experienced ~explicit~ racism - although implicit racism all the time. It took me a little longer to know that I was queer, and have experienced very explicit, as well as implicit homophobia. Both frustrate me, because people feel that it’s ok still to discriminate against queer people because it ‘goes against their religion’ or they don’t ‘agree with the concept’. Homophobia is still utterly normalised. However, everyone knows that racism is wrong. People have that awareness, and would be very careful to avoid blatant racism. Yet subtle comments and discrimination are all too common. A lot of the time, people say things to me that they don’t realise are racist or homophobic, for example, comments about my hair. Not straightening my black hair, is related to both my queerness and blackness. Politically, coming out made me realise that it was important to be who you are. Therefore, straightening my hair to conform to a westernised ideal of beauty, seemed wrong to me. One in which whiteness is viewed as the ideal. In this sense, for many reasons, i cannot separate my queerness from my blackness. I am a queer woman of colour, and when i experience homophobia, it’s often linked to racism, and vice versa. The two coexist. How does your work add to the narrative of Queerness? My practice aims to explore female bodies and demonstrate a visibility of minority groups. I feel that there is a huge lack of representation of queer people of colour in Art, hence I’m interested in the body (ies) reflecting a sense of identity and truth. The consistent governing of women’s bodies and sexuality in the media and society frustrates me, and propels me to make work that explicitly depicts female sexuality. Primarily, I take my own photographs and use those to paint from, however, I also paint from memory, books, magazines and the internet. The works explore intimacy and the personal relationship I, as a queer woman of colour, have with my body. It’s exploring self-love, self-care, and reclaiming your body back from the grotesque stereotyping and exploitation of black women’s’ bodies in society.
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BA Textiles, Chelsea College of Art.
What does being queer mean to you? Queer to me, is an action in ‘un-defining’. It set myself free from how others categorised me, by unlearning and re learning lessons in race, ethnicity and queerness, and gender. That being South Asian did not mean that I could not be authentically queer. My brownness didn’t have to come at the expense of my queerness. We create our own authenticity By being all these sites at once, I hold the word Queer like a weapon, close to my heart. It’s the only term that took my disabled brown queer femme body and its desires, and the violence that had been inflicted on this body, and the rage it carried, and blessed it. Sang it queer. It gave me the power to be myself and hear my own voice. Who are some of the queer activist/artists of colour that inspire you and your work? Ingrid Pollard, Ajamu X, Lubaina Himid and Sunil Gupta. Imagine it was possible to separate intersections (e.g. Brownness from your queerness), would you separate them? If so which do you imagine you could live without? Multiple and plural identities are informed by each aspects of each other, and my brownness is inextricably tied up with my queerness and can never be unlinked, as a South Asian Queer disabled femme. To do so would be an exercise in erasing whole sections and parts of myself. Culture, place, race, ethnicity and gender all contribute to the political construction of your Queer ID. How does your work add to the narrative of Queerness? ‘Visible Space’ is a series of photographic essays mapping out the dress cultures, and visibility of South Asian LBTQ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer) identified women and minority genders. It explores the relationship of radical, cross-cultural dress in fashioning diasporic South Asian, queer and ethnic dress identities, and the differing dimensions of embodied, public and private space. South Asian queer identities are often hyper-visible as brown bodies, yet invisible as LBTQ in mainstream white queer culture. My work focuses on the negotiations the participants use to reflect their own gaze, with each choosing a specific space to be visible as South Asian and queer. Utilising dress, fashion, ethnic performativity and racialised gender presentations, to assert plural identities of ethnicity, faith, gender and sexuality.
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FURTHER READING. Chourdey, Sabah. Inclusivity- Supporting Bame Trans People. 1st ed. London: gires, 2016. PDF. Availible here: http://www.gires.org.uk/assets/Support-Assets/BAME_Inclusivity. pdf Desai, Poulomi Desai and Parminder Sekhon. Red Threads. 1st ed. London: Millivres Prowler, 2003. Print. Gupta, Sunil. Queer. 1st ed. Munich: Prestel, 2011. Print. Matebeni, Zethu. Reclaiming Afrikan. 1st ed. Print. Muholi, Zanele. Faces And Phases. 1st ed. Munich [Germany]: Prestel, 2010. Print. Najmabadi, Afsaneh. Women With Mustaches And Men Without Beards. 1st ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. Print. Sycamore, Mattilda Bernstein. Nobody Passes. 1st ed. Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2006. Print. Vanita, Ruth. Queering India. 1st ed. New York, NY: Routledge, 2002. Print. Chandra Frank’s Masters of Sex reading List: Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Gopinath, Gayatri. Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures. Durham: Duke UP, 2005. hooks, bell. Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston, MA: South End, 1992. Tinsley, Omis’eke Natasha. “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic: Queer Imaginings of the Middle Passage.” (2008)
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HELPFUL ORGANISATIONS. From the guide “Inclusivity” by Sabah Chourder Bisexuals of Colour Informal social meetings on the 2nd Saturday of each month in Stratford Circus for bisexual people of colour bisofcolour.tumblr.com
Gendered Intelligence - BAME Group A monthly group for trans young people of from 13-25 years old genderedintelligence.co.uk/transyouth/BAME
Imaan LGBTQI Muslim support group www.imaan.org.uk
Intersections For queer and trans Muslims Meets last Wednesday of the month at cliniQ 6pm-8pm cliniq.org.uk/services/intersectionsfor-trans-queer-muslims
NAZ Project - DOST/EHSAAS BME sexual health Young South Asian, Middle Eastern MSM email@example.com
The Rainbow Intersection A LGBT group highlighting the key issues as it involves Race, Sexuality and Religion as regards Black Minority Ethnic groups www.blgbt.org/birmingham-southasians-lgbt-finding-a-voice
The Safra Project A research and resource project working on issues relating to Muslim women who have same sex attractions or are trans www.safraproject.org #queerbodies #sonevents.
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UK Black Pride Annual Black Pride celebration for LGBTQ people of colour therainbowintersection.tumblr.com
Runnymede Intelligence for multi-ethnic Britain Intelligence for multi-ethnic Britain firstname.lastname@example.org
QTIPOCs London A closed group for QTIPOC people in Greater London www.facebook.com/ groups/232663200178649
PHASE FOUR ZINES. You can now access all of our previous Terms of Reference (ToR) Zines from Phase Three and Four on our website at: shadesofnoir.org.uk/terms-of-reference-zines/ All of our Zines are packed with informative resources that suppliment our events. They are a great tool for curriculm development and/or dissertation writing! Enjoy.
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Women & Non-Binary Identities
Who Am I?
QTIPOC ORGANISATIONS, ARTISTS & ACTIVISTS. Limit(less)
A documentary photography project by Mikael Owunna on the fashion and style of LGBTQ Africans in North America and Europe. www.limitlessafricans.com
Queer African Reader
As the double jeopardy of homophobia and transphobia, and western imperialism, threaten to silence the voices of African lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, the Queer African Reader is a testament to the resistance and unrelenting power of these communities across Africa and her Diaspora. The Queer African Reader brings together academic writings, political analysis, life testimonies, conversations and artistic works by Africans that engage with the struggle for LGBTI liberation. www.facebook.com/pg/Queer-African-Reader-440133605998011/ about/?ref=page_internal
Their ground-breaking anthology of black gay menâ€™s lives in the UK, crammed with amazing poems, autobiographies, provocative essays and think-pieces, and stories by Ade Adeniji, Travis Alabanza, Bisi Alimi, Dean Atta, Dr. Rob Berkeley, Rikki Beadle-Blair, Topher Campbell. teamangelica.com
Latinx queer community in London. Organises monthly socialising events. www.facebook.com/maricumbialondon/
Alicia Garza is an African American activist. She is of Mexican-American and African-American descent. She has organized around the issues of health, student services and rights, rights for domestic workers, ending police brutality, anti-racism, and violence against trans and gender non-conforming people of color. Garza is one of the co-founders of #BlackLivesMatter alongside Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors. Twitter: @aliciagarza #queerbodies #sonevents.
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Mania Akbari is an Iranian filmmaker, actress, artist and writer whose works mostly deal with themes of sexual identity, women, marriage, abortion, infidelity and lesbianism. Her style, unlike the long tradition of melodrama in Iranian cinema, is rooted in modern visual arts and styles. Akbari, because of the themes discussed in her films and her opposition to censorship, is considered as one of the most controversial filmmakers in Iran. Website: www.mania-film.com
Michael David Quattlebaum Jr. (born April 2, 1986), better known by the stage name Mykki Blanco, is an American rapper, performance artist, poet and activist. Blanco has been called one of hip hopâ€™s queer pioneers. mykkiblancoworld.com
Kat Blaque- Youtuber Kat Blaque is a transgender African American feminist vlogger, YouTube personality, activist and illustrator. In 2010, she began to vlog more publicly about her life and made an concerted effort to produce a channel with educational content about feminism, gender identity, race, and other social justice issues. www.youtube.com/channel/UCxFWzKZa74SyAqpJyVlG5Ew
WU TSANGâ€™s films, installations, performances, and sculptures move fluidly between documentary, activism, and fiction. Her work is concerned with queer and trans community and community-practices. Her projects have been presented at museums and film festivals internationally. wutsang.com
On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack/hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, United States. The mediatisation of this attack was criticised for many reasons such as the lack of focus on the mass loss of Latinx lives. The mainstream media chose to ignore the fact that the victims were made of people of colour, and the focus shifted from a discussion around queer bodies of colour, to linking the attack to a Radical Islamic Terrorist attack which was proven to be untrue later on.
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UPCOMING EVENTS. Maricumbia 6ª - ¡La Vida Es Un Carnaval! 25 Feb 2017 // LimeWarf // £3
Maricumbia is BACK 25th February for our CARNIVAL THEMED 6th rumba at Limewharf! Suggested entry is £3, but pay what you can. Facebook Event: www.facebook.com/events/250447688719170/
We Raise Our Hands In The Sanctuary - The Albany Theatre Tuesday 31 January – Saturday 11 February, 7:30pm. // The AlbanyTheatre // £15 / 12 (conc)
Combining dance, drama and the club sounds of the 1980s, We Raise Our Hands in the Sanctuary tells an uplifting story of the power of gay friendship and the enduring importance of queer spaces. www.thealbany.org.uk/event_detail/1929/Theatre/We-Raise-Our-Hands-In-TheSanctuary
Wed 31 May - Fri 2 June at 9pm // Camden People’s Theatre // £12 / 10 (conc) Three women, one voice. A solo performance inspired by real life case studies of domestic violence, Divided emerges three South Asian female perspectives of westernised integration and eastern traditions.Divided is inspired by real life case studies of domestic violence and segregation. As three different characters explore integration into an unknown territory, flat representations of femininity are challenged by understanding westernisation from a South Asian perspective. Divided uses different music styles and genres, to illustrate the perplexity of integration into the West. www.cptheatre.co.uk/production/divided/
The Cocoa Butter Club- Monthly Events Multiple nights
The Cocoa Butter Club gives a voice to The Other. We exist to promote the fact that performers of colour are creating in a multitude of mediums, though in our experience artists of colour and their incredible talent are often ignored, erased and untold. @TheCocoaButterClub www.facebook.com/TheCocoaButterClub/
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WITH THANKS TO. OUR PANELISTS & CONTRIBUTORS. Phase 4 Shades of Noir Team Panelists: Chandra Frank Evan Ifekoya Hengameh Yaghoobifarah Chair: Sahaya James Contributors: Ebun A Sodipo
Alzira Della Ragione Marloes Haarmans Miranda Forrester Raisa Kabir
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INTERSECT I O N A L
F I L M
22 MARCH // 12.30 - 14.30 LONDON COLLEGE OF C O M M U N I C AT I O N S H A D E S O F N O I R .O R G .U K
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W: shadesofnoir.org.uk E: email@example.com Tw: @shadesofnoir • Fb: shadesofnoir
WE SALUTE YOU!
Queer Bodies © Shades of Noir 2017 40 // QUEER BODIES.