The 2017-2018 Writers
Timer on, heads down, pens ready.... go!
We responded to a diverse body of queer and transgender art, past and present. Leslie Feinberg’s Transgender Warriors revealed unknown transcestors; Cheryl Dunye’s Watermelon Woman combed the archives and implored “if you cannot nd your history you have to make it up.” For youth who so rarely see themselves accurately re ected in media, except for hate crime and homelessness statistics, it is powerful to create original art speaking back to these historical erasures.
We wrote letters inspired by James Baldwin’s “My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation,” resonant with #BlackLivesMatter. We studied queer and trans culture as resistance by reading Justin Torres’ “In Praise of Latin Night at the Queer Club” (after the Pulse Orlando shooting), and then we watched Sylvester’s legendary disco videos. Cherrie Moraga, Jewelle Gomez, Audre Lorde, Chrystos, Amir Rabiyah, and Kai Cheng Thom guided us through queer origins, mythologies and memories, literally “A Litany for Survival.”
In these pages, students respond to their ancestors through original writing and art. Sylvia Rivera compels us to stay and ght, speaking to poets “becoming trans femme.” Friends fallen to suicide, “mute ash,” and Guan Yin offer queer elegies, poems to transform trauma. Serpent women, genderqueer mermaids, and glitter crusted love found in the sea, sky, and clubs queerly remind us of our community’s de ance, beauty, survival, and creativity. Declarations of self-love combat silence, and the real life struggles of poverty, isolation, migration, homo/transphobia. Arranged in conversation, Tender forms a stirring collective. We must never forget, as student Jose Francisco says in “Rise”: “we hold the power to shape the future, and, together, to shake these walls down.”
I am so proud of the Queer Ancestors Project students, and this collaboration between QAP, Foglifter Press, and SF Arts Commission. A huge thank you to Katie, Miah, Melton, Liz, Lisa, Molly, Chrissy, and everyone who assisted with this project.
Thank you for committing young queer/trans voices to history. Sincerely, Celeste Chan
Tender. These pieces are Tender.
I’m honored to launch Queer Ancestors Project’s new writing program and anthology. Fourteen years ago, I was a queer youth learning to write under Maiana Minahal’s tutelage at the LGBT Center. Now, I’m thrilled to be a Teaching Artist with Queer
Ancestors Project. QAP Writes is a 9-month long program bringing together twenty youth. Students create original art about queer/trans history, locate themselves within it, and explore these questions: How do we create when we don’t know our own histories? How do we locate invisible stories and ancestors?