In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: SELF DEFINED?
I’m the writer and performer of the piece “Misgendered, by a Friend, June 21st.” I was also an intern this past summer for 20%, so I was responsible for creating the promo materials for the call for submissions and really getting the word out there about this show.
Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I?
It’s vital to tell the stories in THE NAKED I because trans and queer people are so often denied the fundamental act of telling our own stories and creating our own representations for ourselves, especially along lines of intersecting marginalized identities. It’s important that we have spaces for us, by us, and about us; trans justice can only happen when trans people are in control of our movements, our art, and our representations.
What aspects of your identity do you hope to express through your involvement with THE NAKED I?
For this piece, I tried really hard to focus on a really small moment, that of being misgendered. I think there’s a tendency to feel pressured to talk about murder and homelessness and other “big” issues whenever we talk about oppression facing trans people; and I think all of those things are vitally important. They need to be said, and I’ve said them many, many times. However, it was my challenge to myself this time to write a piece that focused on the small things that tend to grind us down, like microaggressions and misgendering, which work in tandem with the same systems of oppression that target and police trans bodies. This isn’t to say that microaggressions operate on the same scale as hate crimes which disproportionately harm trans women of color; it’s just to say that there are a million moments, small and large, that make up the varied lived experiences of trans people.
Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production?
I’m a nationally touring slam poet, and I’ve competed and performed in over 15 states. I’m also a musician and a visual artist, with numerous years of theatre experience under my belt as well.
What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work?
This is a huge question. I’m dedicated to putting out ethical work; this means constantly questioning the ways in which I, as a white person, have a stake in white supremacy (and actively trying to dismantle white supremacist ideology in both myself and others), although I don’t perform much work written explicitly about race. Like I said before, I believe in letting people tell their own stories, and I would never want to take up space/take space away from people of color in order to whitesplain about race. I’m also hugely dedicated to trans justice and queer justice, as well as disability justice. I’m not interested in assimilationist politics; rather, I try to envision and work toward radical spaces in which we can find authenticity. In shorter, less pretentious words, I don’t care much about “gay” marriage, but I do care about systematic reform that supports those most affected in our communities, largely disabled, working-class trans and queer people of color. This means that my politics can never be separated from having conversations about interwoven relationships between colonialism, white supremacy, and the gender binary—even as I look toward a world in which non-binary people like myself can live sustainably. This informs my work so much because it informs my life—although I definitely don’t always succeed, in my work and my life, I try to actively fight against oppression.
What other artists or shows have inspired you?
DarkMatter, Venus DeMars, Cam Awkward-Rich, Rosanonymous, Jane Doe and the Misery Loves Co, Danez Smith, Patrick’s Cabaret, The Exchange (and everything they do), Miss Major <3 <3 the list goes on and on.
What’s your favorite hangout spot and why?
The Fox Egg Gallery! A ton of great events are held there, and it’s such a phenomenal 3rd space for me.
What other projects are you working on or hope to work on?
I’m very busy!!
Right now I’m the guest curator at the Fox Egg; in addition to the show that’s going up in mid-January featuring the Tantrum Art Collective, I’m also curating a show called “Stare Back: Queer and Trans Artists Reclaim the Gayze,” which will open for submissions shortly. The show is going to be a space for radical redefinition as all types of queer and trans artists represent ourselves visually, fighting against the ways in which largely cis, white, gay people are the face of queer communities in mainstream media.
I’m also finishing up my first full-length book, which will include both my poetry and my visual art. It’s called “Spoiler: The Trans Kid Dies,” and it’s about my experiences as a specifically non-binary transgender sexual assault survivor.
In addition to those things, I founded and run a weekly poetry workshop on Sundays from noon to 2 p.m. at the Fox Egg Gallery called Well-Placed Commas. WPC is a 16+ space for writers of all levels to come write together and build community. We just produced our first chapbook, which is available for purchase on my Etsy page, OllieSchminks.
I also co-host the Twin Cities finest queer open mic, OUTspoken! with my lovely friends Nik Martell and Paul Canada, which happens every second Wednesday at the Fox Egg Gallery.
As one of my other loves, I run the Macalester Poetry Slam and tour nationally with my poetry at colleges and other venues. You can check out all of this and more at my website.