“Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives” is a collection of sixteen interviews with artists working in the performing, literary and visual arts. In the foreword, writer Toi Scott states, “Gathering and sharing our stories—expressing our voices through art—is and always has been necessary for queer and trans people of color’s survival.” This book is a survival guide for queer and trans artists of color and for all artists, especially those living and working on the margins.
Adapted from Nia King’s podcast “We Want the Airwaves,” the book includes interviews with writers Ryka Aoki and Fabian Romero, visual artists Julio Salgado and Kiam Marcelo Junio, and performers Micia Mosely and Magnoliah Black. While the majority of the artists are based on the West Coast, King also interviewed Chicagoan Van Binfa, talked with Nick Mwaluko about living in east Africa, and spoke with bestselling author Janet Mock, who resides in New York.
Combining personal narratives with artistic advice, the interviews offer the reader an intimate portrait of artists who deeply admire, support and challenge each other out of love. King asks questions like: How do you measure your success as an artist or a writer? Do you consider your artwork to be political? Do you find yourself self-censoring for certain audiences? How do you let go of the fear of not being able to survive?
What unites many of the artists in the book is that they are also community organizers whose art is an integral part of their activism. Julio Salgado discusses his job at CultureStrike, where he uplifts the work of undocumented artists, in addition to creating his own vibrant illustrations about immigration. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarsinha co-founded Mangos with Chili, an arts collective for queer and trans people of color that tours all over the country. Many of the artists in the book have created platforms for other queer and trans people of color, who are often left out of queer spaces, communities of color and the contemporary art world.
Lovemme Corazón, author of the memoir “Trauma Queen” said, “Not having access to books about people like me, not having these real, vulnerable stories of heartache and trauma was difficult…there have been a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle ways that people have told me not to tell the story.” In their interview, King and Corazón define and describe the benefits of communal care versus self-care. Corazón argues that people should be able to turn to their communities for support in times of need, especially when individuals cannot take care of themselves. “Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives” acts as a form of communal care, allowing artists to openly share their traumas, while also celebrating their successes and encouraging their continual growth.
Many of the artists, writers, and performers in this book emphasized the urgent need to tell their stories because they don’t know if they will be deported, murdered or simply not have the time or resources to continue making work. The book beautifully illustrates how queer and trans artists of color continue to build community and lift up one another in order to survive. (H. Melt)
“Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives”
By Nia King, Terra Mikalson, and Jessica Glennon-Zukoff
CreateSpace, 242 pages, $22.95