Happy Pride!

At last it’s Letter #4. Late as always and down to the wire (typical, Ums) but good in this case. Pride is worth extending past the end of June (#prideallyear).

This goes out to all those who’ve been celebrating, reveling and delighting in this month. But equally so eye-roll inducing watching corporations really push it on cashing in, no? At least we get to watch Jaboukie Young-White evolve into a national treasure. Oh, and a collective of bitter Boston bros tried it with a straight pride parade (HASHTAGTRASH). They ask why Pride is necessary.

But the joy of June is palpable! Read on for some beautiful humans to celebrate and celebrate with this month. And if you haven’t yet, look into the origins of Pride. It was sparked by black trans women - like Marsha P. Johnson - at the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969. them. calls it “an inciting factor in the queer liberation movement that’s since paved the way for countless achievements in LGBTQ+ civil rights.” _____________________________________________________

Here’s who I’m donating to this month:
The Trans Women of Color Collective
There’s an ongoing epidemic of violence against black trans women in the U.S. TWCC provides healthcare and more. As Director Lourdes Ashley Hunter says, “Every breath a black trans person takes is a revolution.”
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.

If you can, donate, let me know you did, and I’ll add another $5 to mine.

I’m always grateful to LGBTQI friends for sharing and educating (when they shouldn’t have to), and for fighting on. I hope this honors you.

move freely/

Eugene Lee Yang! The internet star came out publicly in a stunner of video dropped June 15th. The storyline is wrenching. “[I’m] coming out as a proud gay man who has many unheard, specific stories to tell,” he wrote. “I withheld because of fear and shame shaped by my background but I promise to give my full truth in the rest of my life’s work.” It’s also a fundraiser for The Trevor Project. Watch here, and an even more revealing explanation video here.

My dearest darlingest friend Julius got me into Pose (two seasons now on Netflix). The love letter to 1980s New York drag ball culture is an exquisite look at an LGBTQ community facing rejection from families, fighting to form their own, and generally/refreshingly thriving with talent and beauty and the most excellent drama. I love and have learned from it. Watch it for the trans/queer/bi/brown representation, and the most excellent Billy Porter.

As the US Women’s national soccer team heads to the semi-finals, they’re scoring unapologetically, pushing the fight over fair pay (38 cents on the dollar to the men’s team and an ongoing class action suit), effectively trolling Trump. And they’re hot. “It's about thirst, sure,” writes Jill Gutowitz. “But the sheer number of out, queer players in professional soccer sets an inspiring new bar for lesbian visibility, too.” Even I, of no-patience-for-sports fame, may watch Tuesday as they take on England.

pride enough to move mountains/

them. released its Queeros 2019 list for Pride and it’s full of LGBTQ heroes - creatives and activists all worth learning about and supporting (that’s the gorgeous musician Chika, on the left). See also: the trans, disabled pin@y-amerikan poet Kay Ulanday Barrett, artists Kia LaBeija and Lyle Ashton Harris and musicians Dizzy Fae and Mila Jam. All worth digging into and learning from, when you have some time.

nothing in life
is ever staunchly set in stone
much as these limbs root themselves to our bones
and tell us that it’s human nature
but how can they be so sure

gold/dust friend Fajar Zakhri blesses us with a striking poem for June.

Johanna Toruño is the queer Salvadoran artist behind The Unapologetically Brown Series, creator of the art atop this letter (what a ring-true statement, when you investigate it), revolutionary paster of street posters. “I woke up brown the way my mother and her mother made me,” reads one. She shares free images for community street pasting, and celebrates her personal love. There’s a big story here, or here. Instagram here. Shop here.

conduct your blooming/

Ocean Vuong’s poetry washes over you like his name. “Ocean. Ocean, get up. The most beautiful part of your body is where it’s headed. & remember, loneliness is still time spent with the world.”

The Vietnamese writer just released his debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, reflections of trauma, immigrant experience, memory, queer love. It’s next on my list/I can’t wait. Meet him here.

I have an ongoing love affair with fresh, local flowers, and as such have been following LA florist and artist Maurice Harris’s work with glee. His lush arrangements and photography - they’re a revelation! And I have yet to make it there but his newly launched, attached coffee shop sets the exact tone for the kind of space I want to open one day: “It’s rare for us to feel comfortable in most coffee spaces. But when done so elegantly with us in mind, you can’t help but walk in and deeply sigh, relieved.”

More from Maurice: “I do these Black male nudes in floral environments where I’m questioning masculinity, Blackness, hypersexuality. I create these nudes where they are non-masculine and non-sexual and I use beauty to lure the viewer to strike a conversation about something larger. ‘We are constantly reduced down to [the big Black man stereotype] which I think is the reason why we are constantly dying, people are afraid of us. I as a Black man wanted to challenge this. The idea of Shades of Blackness came up. We wanted to create a collection of photos that showed all the colours that Black people come in and we wanted to juxtapose them with flowers.”

“Say surrender. Say alabaster. Switchblade.
Honeysuckle. Goldenrod. Say autumn.
Say autumn despite the green in your eyes.
Beauty despite daylight. Say you’d kill for it.
Unbreakable dawn mounting in your throat.
My thrashing beneath you like a sparrow stunned with falling.” 
― Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

… and a little of what I’ve been
reading/listening to this month….

Revisited this 2018 piece from Eater on Queer Food: from kitchen camp to political plates, queer people have been shaping food culture for decades. Tiffany Cabán, the 31 year old queer Latina public defender, was (likely) just elected Queens attorney general: such a satisfying blow to the calcified New York political machine. R. Eric Thomas had me cackling (as always) in the aftermath of that sweaty, awkward mess of a first Democratic debate. Indian sprinter Dutee Chand came out in May. “I have found someone who is my soulmate,” she said.I believe everyone should have the freedom to be with whoever they decide they want to be with.” Aaron Philip, the gorgeous trans, disabled Antiguan model, celebrates her 18th birthday and an astoundingly pioneering career. Trump denied requests from US embassies around the world to fly the Pride flag this month: here’s how some got around it, or just plain defied it. Trans women of color are the past and future of LGBTQ Liberation. Some of the People Knew Magic: Code Switch on Stonewall. And Paper has 50 LGBTQ musicians to listen to.

until next month.

(footer illustration @bydivya)

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