“When I was coming up, as a person, as a writer, reading abuse survivor narratives was one of the things that saved my life-no lie. I am beyond grateful for the writers in the 80s and 90s who broke the world open writing our stories about the violence we endured. We were able to do this work because of the existence of grassroots queer and feminist literary and political movements that made queer, feminist and/or people of color zines, presses, bookstores, and reading series. From the zines like Body Memories and Fantastic Fanzine, that I mailed two well-wrapped dollar bills and some soaked stamps to get a copy of, to the first time I heard Sapphire perform her poem “Micky Mouse was a Scorpio” live in 1994 when I was 19, from second wave queer white feminist incest survivor books like Louise Wisechild’s The Obsidian Mirror and Elly Danica’s Don’t: A Woman’s Word to the copy of Bastard Out of Carolina I shoplifted from the Framingham, MA, Borders, and the poems by Chrystos I read standing up in the bookstore, I would be nowhere without this cultural movement—wildly not remembered or included in literary cannons—of survivors speaking about and being the experts on our own experiences. We changed the fucking world though writing about how very common sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse and partner abuse are, and through writing our lived experiences as real and authoritative, in all the weird, perfect, dissociated glory….”
“…But. A lot of those books and zines were written twenty years ago. And a lot of the survivor narratives then and since are by white cis women. Queer or punk or working class white cis women, but white cis women nonetheless. And that begs the question: what is a survivor narrative by queer women and gender variant people of color?….”
The kind of imposter syndrome you can get sitting there thinking, I am fucking almost 40 years old. My shit is taught in a lot of women’s and ethnic studies classrooms. I’ve co-founded a ton of organizations, performed to sold out houses all over the country from Harvard to dyke bars. Things I publish get thousands of hits. There is a huge, vibrant queer feminist of color literary, political and cultural community that I am a part of, that keeps asking when the book is going to come out, that these fools know nothing about. And they still won’t offer me a lousy book deal. Is huge. As Sarah Haji said, “God, give me the confidence of a mediocre white man.””
“….I don’t want to end on a sad note. And I don’t have to. Because queer Black and Brown writers, from June Jordan to Ryka Aoki de la Cruz to Meliza Bañales to Qwo Li Driskill to Alexis Pauline Gumbs, stay figuring out how to get our shit out there in the world. From the trans women of color lead Biyuti Press to Meliza’s new novel, Life is Wonderful, People are Terrific, we keep defying all odds, as our people always have. Those feminist and queer and POC small presses of the 70s and 80s were created in basements. Kitchen Table Press was created literally at a kitchen table. We always create the technology, from lipstick to Tumblr, we need to survive. And that includes publishing our writing, on our own terms, for the people want and need to read them. I want to continue to be the part of the movement work making that happen.”
Dirty River available for purchase here.