On October 24th contributors and performers of the second volume of Queer & Trans Artists Of Color : Stories Of Some Of Our Lives had the first stop of their West Coast Tour. The event took place at the University Of Washington and was organized by The ASUW Women's Action Commission and The Queer Student Commission. Following the first book of interviews released in 2014 (Vol. 1), Queer & Trans Artists Of Color Vol. 2 (let’s call it for short QTAC Vol.2) is “a celebration of queer and trans Black and Brown genius”. It is yet another archive of the voices of queer and trans artists of color as they discuss their activist work and the multifaceted lives they live.
The event featured an introduction by the author of the anthology, Nia King. King conducted interviews with several successful queer and trans artists of color to document their stories and pick their brains for advice on “making it” as an artist. King shares with the audience that QTAC Vol.2 was born out of her podcast We Want The Airwaves, a podcast that asks for advice from other political queer and trans artists of color who make a living from their art. Some of these interviews were selected and documented in the print versions of Queer & Trans Artists Of Color: Stories Of Some Of Our Lives: Volumes 1 & 2.
To a full room of attendees, King reads from the introduction of QTAC Vol.2, “I want straight and white people to know what we are up against. I want queer and trans people of color to know that we have a future. That we do because those before us made space for us in the world and now we are trying to make space for others”. King’s statement highlighting the importance of oppressed communities documenting their existences and leaving tangible legacies for future generations of the community. So down the line, future generations can look back and say things like, yes we were here, and in spite of everything we still thrived.
Next to take the stage was the editor of QTAC Vol.2, Elena Rose who introduced the guest performers for their tour. At this particular stop of the tour the performers featured Nyky Gomez, Jordan Alam, Shannon Barber, Renee Jarreau (aka Revered Dollars) and Elena Rose herself. With the use of many different mediums, no two performances were the same. From zines, to spoken word, to song and short story the evening was filled with unapologetic personal narrative of love, survival, sexual autonomy and brujeria. At the end of the event Rose took the stage to perform a politically charged spoken word piece on the importance of solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement from her perspective as a trans Filipina lesbian.
The charge of the performers sharing so deeply, and the sense of urgency that Rose left the audience with at the end of the night felt representative of the necessity of coming together. The necessity of having spaces for Queer People of Color to be seen, heard and feel safe to share their lived experiences. As well as an urgency to build real solidarity within different queer communities of color.
And let’s be honest in a city as white as Seattle, these spaces are not always the most accessible or easy to find. Especially if you are under 21, live in a neighboring suburb, or don’t know who to ask. (Not to mention the barrier of not being “out” as queer/trans to your community and/or family).
In a world where most media outlets only, “prioritize the threat of violence and spector of death that hangs over us (queer people of color) everyday”, (as King points out in her introduction). Queer & Trans Artists Of Color Vol. 2 represents a physicalized space where the stories of queer/trans artists of color is not only documented and centered but also celebrated. A space where the genius of its artists gets to be shared with the world.
Queer & Trans Artists Of Color Vol. 1 & 2 can be accessed by anyone able to purchase a copy or access the internet (some stories can be accessed for free on the podcast We Want The Airwaves.) Support queer artists of color and check out the book yourself!