QUEEROFGENDER: LOVING ALL OF US
A CELEBRATION BY LYNX SAINTE-MARIE
Lynx Sainte-Marie is a Jamaican-Canadian, non-binary gender, AfroGoth Poet, student and activist with dis/Abilities who breathes art, social justice, feminism/s decentralizing whiteness and cisheteronormativity, and anti-oppression. Lynx is the creator of QueerofGender, an emerging grassroots organization and transnational visibility project, dedicated to celebrating the various experiences of gender within LGBTTQQ2IAP* Black, Indigenous & People of Colour communities. As a Poet, Lynx has performed at venues in Ottawa and Toronto, exploring ideas around the policing of Blackness, gender and love on the margins.
When people ask me why I started QueerofGender (QofG), I usually give a number of standard reasons. My general reply is I wanted to create an archive of sorts; to leave evidence that we as Black, Indigenous and other People of Colour exist and our stories of gender are worth writing and thinking about. However, there are only a few words that can truly describe my feelings behind QofG, one of them being determination. I was determined to create a place in the world for the words of others, like myself, whose experiences of gender are further marginalized by race. I was determined to find others who felt that all our genders were worth affirming and honouring. But most importantly, I was determined to share love – the love of our bodies, our identities, our histories and our stories.
Coming of age as a Black, queer, non-binary gender person, whose fluid and fluxing gender is not without its own challenges, storytelling, truth-seeking and knowledge sharing have all been complex realities for me. Growing up, I experienced a great deal of silence and shame from my family members around the way I expressed my gender. Similar to the experiences of many Black youth growing up in conservative, immigrant households, there was never any time or room to question these feelings. Like many of us, my family had learned through whiteness and Western thought that anything that wasn’t cisnormative was antithetical to Blackness. Wounded, I turned to the internet for solace. What I found was disheartening but not shocking – white voices describing their stories of affirmation; pictures of white bodies cascading rapidly as I sifted through image albums. Searching “genderqueer” in google (the term I initially used when I came out to describe my gender) is still a heartbreaking experience: where are all of our black and brown bodies? Why are our genders forgotten in these conversations and spaces?
As an emerging grassroots organization, transnational visibility project and global movement centered on gender in racialized communities, QofG is a celebration. We are celebrating our lives as people who are consistently subjected to someone else’s expectations, assumptions and interpretations of who we are. We are seeking to dismantle violent notions of identity and inherency. We are pushing back on any ideology that tells us that gender can only be determined by white supremacy; that gender can only belong to those who identify within the binary; that gender can only be real and valid if our bodies are non-disabled, were assigned female at birth, are presented in particular articles of clothing and all other oppressive, dehumanizing narratives.
As of February 6th, 2015, with almost 2,000 followers in several countries across the world, we will be celebrating our one year anniversary. On that day, we will start a crowdfunding campaign for donations to pay any contributors thereafter honorariums, among other organizational startup costs. I believe with every voice, word and image we curate of ourselves, we let our communities know that loving and sharing our own stories and lived experiences are central to our survival. There isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not thankful for the many individuals who have volunteered their time and capacity to this little idea of mine – from all the people who have submitted content, to our committee members whose valuable presence keeps me focused and grounded when at times I feel too discouraged to go on.
Since the birth of QofG until now, my feelings haven’t changed: I am still determined to love and honour all of us. Because we are who we say we are and we are revolutionary.
Donate to the project here: http://youcaring.com/queerofgenderstartup