Activism and Daily Life
Queer artist-activists discuss the ways activism happens in every day life
Alessia It is the posters, it is the moving chairs, the cooking for people, the listening. If there's one thing that transformative justice has actually taught me is that activism is actively healing ourselves too. It's going to therapy, taking care of yourselves. Being consciously aware of not reproducing harm is activism. Hurt people hurt people. And we are all hurt in some way shape or form. Mental health-wise and therapy-wise, art has been one of those pieces that have carried me along throughout the way, and it's actually been such an integral part- specifically like writing- has been such an integral part of like my healing journey.
Madeline I practiced illustration so I use digital media and sometimes traditional media like paint. For me at least, I'm really driven by stories, I really like to make art that has a narrative. So I really like to include characters in my art, in illustrations or in comics, that are visibly queer. I did a series of portraits of people that used they/them pronouns in the piece that was a part of it. And my goal with that was just to normalize queer identities and make it so that people can see themselves in media because I think that's- being able to see yourself is really important. It can often make people feel welcome or can help people realize their identity. So that's my form of activism is basically just creating representation, through my art.
Arwyn You reminded me of one thing that I'm doing is going back through my writing. I have a number of short stories and poems and things that I haven't published and just revisiting them and using they/them pronouns, for characters, just to play with what that does to the whole piece. It’s just like my little queer activism revision. But also in my choreography, now I think it's so political, do you just put like a person on a stage you're saying something about where we are at this point in time. I think probably performing arts have become that much more of a, you know, political activist sort of stance because we weren't able to do it for so long. And also because we became aware of all the barriers, so it is such an act of resistance to say I'm going to do this anyway, I'll figure out a way.
Alessia The first time I ever went to a protest was in my first year of university- my undergraduate- and it was the woman's March, it was probably 2017 because it would have been March. And I remember just kind of- I had been thinking about it, I'd been really hesitant. I just remember like laying in my bed and being like, “if not now, then when”, right? And I remember being there and being surrounded by the energy and the people and some of my closest friends and just feeling very empowered. And the different types of people who were there: men, women, trans people, non-binary people, all in support of just this, cause of equality and equity, there was nothing else like it.
“To me, all art is political. The moment you present something as worth viewing or experiencing, from your viewpoint, you've imbued it with your stance, your beliefs. The choice to put something on stage is activism”
"Making art is a form of activism that I can do. I make art that is diverse and explores different identities. My goal is to normalize marginalized identities. For example, making it normal for a character to use they/them pronouns.
“I spent so long thinking activism was just being angry at the systems that I felt I couldn't control. I realized that so much of activism is just making food and cleaning up and carrying boxes. It's all the little stuff in the background that make organizations run”
“There's just something about being openly, visibly, and unapologetically queer that feels so rebellious. Especially in more conservative places where people give you those weird looks and snide comments. There's this short story 'The boys who became the hummingbirds' that holds a special place in my heart. It's about how open queer expression can inspire and open up others to share their own beauty”
“I wish I knew that not everything needs to be about identity, but that sharing experiences can create community, change, and solidarity”
“I didn't think I was an activist for so long because I didn't think I was changing anything. Until I saw the way everyone around me had changed”