On a sunny Sunday in downtown Montreal, a group gathered at Place de la Paix with a purpose. It’s Pride month and the trans and non-binary people and those who support them have come out to march.

Some people are rocking Trans Pride flags and rainbows others are rocking leather and lace, while others come as they’re most comfortable. Some have picket signs saying “Trans Rights”, “Begone TERFs” aka Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, or proclaiming the rights of transgender sex workers, while others proclaim solidarity through chants and yells.

There were speeches before the march and a chance for the more obvious members of the press to snap a photo. The speeches began with an acknowledgement that everyone was standing on stolen Kanien’kehá:ka indigenous territory.

In the speeches the overall sentiment you get is one of frustration. Vincent, who uses the pronouns “they/them” expressed frustration at self-proclaimed allies in the federal and provincial government, who show up in queer spaces and Pride marches but won’t allow breast augmentation for trans women except in very specific circumstances. They expressed frustration at people who call themselves allies but follow up with no action to support transgender people and transgender people of colour.

Harley, another of the organizers who is non-binary and goes by “they/them” spoke in their speech of the alarming suicide rates among transgender youth and how denying access to transgender medicine keeps people within the transgender community from realizing their full potential. When I spoke with Harley during the march, they told me of the insane hoops transgender people must go through in order to transition.

As it stands, in order receive government funded bottom surgery – meaning surgery to transform the genitalia you had at birth into the genitalia that matches your gender identity – you need confirmation from a doctor that you’ve received hormone therapy for at least twelve months and letters from two psychologists confirming you are transgender. As psychologists generally will not provide a diagnosis of gender dysphoria – the medical term for being transgender – with a single visit and most psychotherapy is not covered under medicare, the costs can be exorbitant.

Activists like Harley would like to see the right to transition as a simple matter of informed consent between doctor and patient, a pact they make to undertake the journey together. Under the current rules the right to transition puts doctors and transgender people at odds.

Despite increasing recognition from the medical and psychiatric community that being transgender is not a mental illness, transgender people are still encountering resistance from the government and medical community who are making decisions for them without consulting them, and who have clearly not absorbed or accepted the growing medical consensus.

With the march underway moving east towards Montreal’s gay village, the air was filled with chants of “Trans Rights Are Human Rights” and “This is a march, not a parade!” – the latter showing that this was not about pretty costumes and corporate sponsorships but a call to action and a proclamation of rights.

The march is not just for transgender and non-binary people. It’s for transgender people of colour who are murdered at alarming rates. It’s for transgender and non-binary youth who face high rates of suicide. It’s for transgender sex workers who are often the victims of violence and have no protection from law enforcement.

The march came to a close at Charles S. Campbell Park where a massive picnic was set up. Food consisting of hot dogs, salads, and tofu dogs was free for guests, but donations were welcome. A stage was set up for trans artists like Candice Mitchell Krol to perform. With the chanting over, people were welcome to chill and hang out in the name of equality and the right to exist.

What was most impressive about the Trans Pride march is the efforts organizers went to make sure people felt safe and welcome. Information was provided to help disabled marchers navigate the march’s route. Smoking was prohibited within the march itself, but there were instructions and accommodations made for people who had to leave the march to do so.

That said, these kinds of events are safe spaces for marginalized groups, so for those who are cisgender and want to show their support, be on your best behavior. If you want to call yourself an ally, prove yourself with actions not proclamations and public appearances.

I am sobbing reading about Danica Roem’s victory in Virginia. She not only is the first Transgender woman to be elected into Virginia legislature, she beat a shitty republican asshole who REFUSED to use her proper pronouns and only spewed hate for half a century. This man was about to overthrow a law protecting trans students from using the bathroom of their choice and then he was beaten by a trans woman!

She is also vegetarian and the singer in a metal band! I love her so much.

YES THERE IS HOPE! I am so proud of her. I agree that the government is flawed AF and needs to be overthrown with real direct change. This is it. We take over by winning. We get out and vote, we support those who are just and those who will represent US.

We are trans, we are queer, we are black, we are women, we are immigrants, we are disabled, and we are only strong if we are all together holding each other up. Danica has totally inspired a generation of kids who have never seen someone like them succeed. She gives them hope that it can change.

She is 33 years old, I am about to be 31, I have a lot of work to do. I can change the world too! We all have to. Right now!

It starts with home, it starts with letting people we love that it is not okay to hate! Families have been torn apart because people are refusing to accept racists and bigots into their homes. How can I serve a Trump supporter a vegan Thanksgiving feast?

My generation will not accept that bullshit. I recently ended a lifetime friendship over just this. Enjoy this song from the band The Specials. If you have a racist friend this is the time for the friendship to end!

Knowing that someone actually supports Trump is a deal breaker. His hate is so transparent that they have no excuse of ignorance.

Local elections are so important, the school board, the sheriff, the fucking mayor, why would people not want to have a voice? It has been 100 years since women gained the right to vote in the US.

The current run of old white men who are hate mongers is actually just a catalyst for the revolution. They are finally getting SO bad that people are getting up off the couch and taking to the streets.

It is November 9th, my mom’s birthday, and one year since Donald Trump was elected President. I can’t believe it’s been a year. Three more to go. Fuck! Will we make it? Nobody knows.

Facebook Memories showed me the photo I posted one year ago. It was the band of the Titanic playing as the ship sank. I felt hopeless.

Shortly after I felt extreme feminine rage and made my photo Xena Warrior Princess. Lucy Lawless is so hot and powerful. A true badass female, like Danica Roem, I would rather be her than a band playing as the water crushes those around them and the planks snap one by one. I know an icy death awaits but I am not going down without a fight, none of us are!

The race for Sheriff in my home county was a tough one. Many people I know got out to #FIREHOWARD and I really hope we succeeded. (Former( fingers crossed)) Sheriff Howard has been there for way too long, he is an open racist and Trump supporting scumbag.

Sheriff Howard (image: DailyPublic.com)

He wore his uniform to a Spirit of America rally and was surrounded by confederate flag waving assholes. People keep dying in the holding center and we need someone to stop it.

Bernie Tolbert , a black man, ran against him in an election so close that we still have to wait for the absentee ballots to be counted. Tolbert was the head of the FBI in Buffalo as well as the former head of security for the NBA. I just know that he is a big step in the right direction.

We must empower those who have always been put down. Now is the time for people of color, transgender humans, queers, and all of the others who have been oppressed for so long to take office and change this bullshit from the inside out.

It’s a long and epic boss battle. This is a multiplayer game folks, don’t put down that controller just yet!

How do I deal with the everlasting crush of the world crumbling down around me? I stay in my bed hole and cuddle with someone cute and my three cats. Wake up, bong, vegan yums, then maybe dye my hair blue. Plan the next show, listen to music, write as much as you can, and paint like humans are going extinct and all that will be left is the art we leave behind.

Politics really stress me out. This is a privilege, I know that. I can turn off the TV and chose not to read the newspaper. I can drown out my first world problems with hair dye.

I do not live in a war torn place. I am not beaten or threatened because of my skin or religious beliefs. I am free. I have a place to be warm and a person to hold, I have purpose and I need to help others rise up.

I live in a world where I can run around in half drag and scream because I feel like it. I expose myself and make people laugh. In other parts of the world I would be dead. Women can’t play music or even show their faces without being beaten or killed. People of color, transgender humans, and others do not have the luxury that I do.

I use my body as a tool, my burlesque is a voice. I will never be quiet about my politics.

My best friend told me that she almost didn’t have time to vote, but knew she needed to use her voice. She went. I am proud of her!

She voted in a room full of people of color and women. I held the door for an old white man with a Make America Great Again sticker on his car. At lease my vote cancelled his out.

That’s all we can do, show kindness even to the enemy, know the power of our collective voice, and push back when oppression strikes its poisonous hateful tendrils at those we love. Rise up motherfuckers, the revolution has already begun.

Montreal Pride is upon us and with it the sights and sounds of people celebrating sexual diversity in an environment that is supposed to be safe and welcoming. Though in Canada we pride ourselves at our enlightenment on issues of sexuality and gender identity, we have still have a long way to go. Before we can move forward, we need to look at our past.

This article will look briefly at the history of LGBTQ struggles in Quebec and Canada, conduct a quick overview of current legislation, and do its best to present a picture of the status quo and what needs to be done to make our country safer and more inclusive.

During the British colonial period, homosexuality, known as “buggery” or “sodomy” was punishable by death. In 1861, the law was eased a bit and the penalty was changed to ten years to life in jail. Anti-gay laws almost always targeted men and the language of laws was kept intentionally vague in order to give huge discretion to law enforcement.

Starting in 1890, gays were generally charged with “gross indecency”, and between 1948 and 1961 changes to the Canadian Criminal Code were made, creating the categories of criminal “sexual psychopaths” and “dangerous sexual offenders”. Instead of persecuting rapists and pedophiles, the changes were disproportionately used to target gays. In addition, Canadian immigration law considered homosexuals an inadmissible class of immigrants.

The gay rights movement in Canada didn’t really gain momentum until the 1960s, when George Everett Klippert, a mechanic from the Northwest Territories, admitted that he was gay and had sex with men. In 1967 he was charged with “gross indecency” and sent to prison indefinitely as a “dangerous sexual offender”.

His conviction was sadly upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada.

While Klippert was rotting in jail, the British government opted to decriminalize certain homosexual acts. Taking a cue from our Mother Country, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, at the time Justice Minister for Prime Minister Lester Pearson, began pushing the omnibus bill, a bill that would amend the Criminal Code to decriminalize homosexual sex, legalize contraception, and increase access to abortion. When asked about it, Trudeau told the press:

“It’s bringing the laws of the land up to contemporary society I think. Take this thing on homosexuality. I think the view we take here is that there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation. I think that what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code. When it becomes public this is a different matter, or when it relates to minors this is a different matter.”

The bill passed in 1969, and two years later, Everett Klippert was released from prison.

In 1977 Quebec passed its Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, a quasi-constitutional bit of legislation and the first of its kind to openly ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Applicable to both private and public parties, the law bans discrimination in access to public spaces, contracts or refusal to enter into them, housing, and employment on the basis of many grounds including sexual orientation. The Quebec Charter also grants equal recognition, and bans harassment, and the distribution of discriminatory notices, symbols, or signs.

In 1978 Canada’s immigration laws were modified so homosexuals are no longer inadmissible.

In 1992, the ban on gays in the military was lifted. A few years later, in 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that same sex couples are entitled to the same benefits and under the same obligations as opposite-sex couples for the social programs they contribute to.

In the summer of 2005, Paul Martin’s government successfully passed Bill C-38, the Law on Civil Marriage, allowing same sex couples the legal right to marry. Attempts by Conservatives to reopen the marriage debate have failed and continue to do so to this day.

Over the years the Canadian Criminal Code has evolved to include “sexual orientation and gender identity or expression” in its definition of hate crimes. The inclusion of gender identity or expression is a recent addition by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Hate crimes include public incitement of hatred, advocating genocide, and willful promotion of hatred, which carry penalties ranging from six months to five years in prison. In addition, sentencing guidelines for the courts now include the obligation to consider aggravating circumstances that could add to a sentence, including evidence that the crime was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on factors that include sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

As it stands, life for Canada’s LGBTQ people is far from perfect. Many members of the LGBTQ community are still denied access to proper health care in Quebec and people are still being fired for being gay or transgender. Though the election of the orange bigot and the rise in hate crimes south of the border has bolstered support for LGBTQ groups, it has also given hatemongers in Canada the confidence to be more open in their hate.

Some Montreal institutions have to deal with homophobia in their recent past. Several groups have been calling on the City of Montreal and the Montreal Police (SPVM) to apologize for violent raids on gay clubs and parties in the 70s, 80s and 90s and just this year Projet Montreal City Councillor Richard Ryan and his party joined them. The raid on Sex Garage in 1990 was what sparked the movement that would ultimately lead to Montreal Pride.

Quebec launched initiatives in 2013 to fight homophobia, however queer people are still glared at in public for simply being themselves. Unfortunately, the one law that would firmly entrench LGBTQ rights – our constitution – still does not include protections for them, and partisan politics and the Quebec notion of us vs them where the rest of Canada is concerned will keep these protections from ever happening.

Protections for LGBTQ people are there but they could be a whole lot better.

This Pride, let’s do what the haters hate most – be out and proud and open and fabulous, while still firmly pushing for those changes Canada so desperately needs.

The trans march kicked off Montreal’s Pride week yesterday in Place de La Paix. For its third edition, the event chose to focus on the rights of trans migrants. Organizers called attention to the additional obstacles faced by transgender migrants, especially when changing their gender and name on official documents.

“It’s completely sad that trans migrants have to wait up to seven years in order to be able to change their documents while trans Canadians can easily do that, thanks to Law 35 and the Law 103,” explained Dalia Briki, spokesperson for the event.

Law 35 was passed in 2013 to allow transgender people to change their legal gender without having to undergo surgery and removed the obligation to publish their transition in the newspaper (which was actually a thing). Law 103 recently extended that right to minors.

However, this much applauded update of Quebec’s Civil Code has little effect on trans migrants since immigration procedures do not allow them to change the gender they were assigned at birth.

“We feel trans migrants have been left aside. The government did not help them, the government only helped trans Canadians,” deplores Briki, who identifies as a trans immigrant and woman of colour.

Demands trans march1in the press release include:

  • Removal of Canadian citizenship from admissibility conditions for a change of name and sex in Quebec’s Civil Code
  • That documents of immigration authorities at the provincial and federal levels recognize the actual current gender of migrants
  • That deportation of trans people cease
  • More funding for organizations specifically aiding trans migrants

Around 150 people of all ages and genders gathered in Place de La Paix around 2 PM. A couple of transgender people of colour spoke to the crowd and a short march started, followed by a pick-nick.

A special effort was made to ensure that people of all origins, economic backgrounds and abilities were included. French and English translations, as well as a sign-language interpretation were available. Organizers provided snacks and bus fares.

Speeches particularly focused on the lack of accommodations in immigration services and procedures, the disproportionate rate of violence against trans women of colour and the deportation of trans immigrants despite obvious risks to their safety.

Studies conducted in Canada and the US found alarming rates of violence against trans people, and especially trans women of colour. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 55% of victims of hate homicide documented in the US in 2014 were transgender women. Almost all of those were women of colour.

“You don’t talk because you’re scared, you’re afraid to be in trouble. Migrants don’t say anything. Well, I’m talking now,” declared one speaker as the crowd cheered.

Pride and Representation: The Ongoing Saga

Euphorie dans le genre organized the event on the eve of the official start of Montreal’s Pride week.  Pride activities across the world have often been accused of failing to properly include both the transgender community and cultural minorities. The feud between Black Lives Matter and Toronto Pride last month brought a sudden spotlight on this issue.

Dalia Bikri is “quite worried” about the lack of representation of both communities in the Montreal chapter as well. The trans march, she says, wants to fill that void.

“I feel that trans people of colour are not involved in the organization of the big events of Pride as much as they should be. On the other side, at least in our trans march, trans people and migrants are on the front line.”

The distinctly militant aspect of the march also sets it apart from the usual Pride events, believes Bikri:

“Pride tends to be more celebratory. Our march is more militant. Our needs have not been fulfilled; our demands have not been fulfilled, that’s why we are marching.”

According to co-organizer of the march Gabrielle Leblanc, “there is not quite enough” representation of the trans community in the overall organization of Pride yet, but it’s “getting better every year.”

Montreal Pride runs from August 8th to 14th.

Rushing from watching the fireworks at Montreal’s Old Port, I was almost late to Cameron Esposito’s show at Montreal Improv. I’m glad I wasn’t, because it was perhaps one of the most entertaining and different sets I’ve ever seen.

What do I mean? For one, you know how stand-up comedians usually try to seem candid because it makes their spiel more believable? After all, you are listening to a complete stranger telling you stories about themselves. You need to first care about these people, before you can even consider laughing at them. Even then, more often than not, the line between the stage and the audience remains very palpable.

Yet with Esposito, her attempts at connecting with the audience not only do feel real, I’m pretty sure they are real. Throughout the show, she talked with two members of the audience. Usually, when that happens, the comedian tries to fit as many jokes as they can about that person’s life. Esposito, however, seemed genuinely interested in what these people had to say, and actually listened. Now, maybe she was just that good at acting, but I remain convinced that it was all real.

For second, there aren’t nearly enough LGBTQ comedians represented at JFL. As far as I can tell, most comedians I’ve seen at JFL have been straight folks, and mostly guys. After a while, these stories get old, because straight love/sex stories are the only stories you hear in the mainstream. Most movies, most TV shows, most anime, most anything – straight stories are everywhere.

So I’m really glad I got to see Esposito at this JFL. She and her wife Rhea Butcher – who also happened to be the opener for Esposito – are really funny. Both of their sets have your run-of-the-mill “America is awful, Canada is so much better” jokes as well as really thoughtful rants/commentaries about gender, politics, and gender and politics.

For instance, one part of Esposito’s set was literally a speech about why Hilary Clinton is fit to be the next president of the U.S. – if not the best candidate the U.S. has seen in a while. I’ve seen many comedians during this year’s JFL, and Esposito was the first one to talk less about Trump, and more about Hilary. Admittedly, it was strange that she got so serious during a stand-up comedy show, but I think I’m into it. In fact, I really like it and I think more people should do it.

We always talk about how comedians are supposed to critique society, point out its flaws or whatever. This is what it should be like. Pointing out problems about society and making you laugh on the side – I might add that no hearing impaired people with terminal illnesses were insulted in the process (looking at you Mr. Ward).

Furthermore, the topics Esposito talks about actually challenge people’s perceptions and understandings. To take that a step further, Esposito and Butcher are launching a new show on Seeso called Take my Wife. Unfortunately, Seeso doesn’t stream outside of U.S., so we won’t be able to watch the show in Canada, but as Esposito puts it, “we don’t need [the show], because we accept people.” The accuracy of our positive verdict notwithstanding, it was really amazing to see a lesbian comedian feel free to make jokes about her identity, without having to fear any bigoted hecklers.

Then again, maybe that was because she was preaching to the choir and the people at the show were already the kind of people who know that gender is a social construct and sexuality is a spectrum.

After this show, I’m very confident that I need more Cameron Esposito-kinda comedy in my life. Funny but not trivial stuff. If we truly want comedy to be a type of subversive act that will mould society into something better, that’s what we need.

* Featured image courtesy of Just for Laughs

Instead of sitting down I chose to ride my tricycle in the sun. I love my trike, it doesn’t have gears, it is clunky, it is beautiful, chipped pink spray paint lace, imperfect, and it squeaks like an oversexed bed.

pride trike

Sunday my beloved tricycle broke, the back axel snapped and the wheel fell right off. Normally I would have gotten upset, but I didn’t, there was WAY more on my mind. Then later I reached into my fanny pack only to find out that my favorite rose tinted heart shaped glasses had broken. Two things that bring me to my happy place.

I realize now that I didn’t care about these “things” like I would have even a couple days ago.

There was a mass murder at a Gay nightclub on Sunday in Orlando Florida. A man conducted the largest mass shooting carried out by a single perpetrator in American history at a gay nightclub called Pulse in Orlando Florida.

This was an act of terrorism and blatant hate. It is an unfathomable tragedy. What motive could a human have for slaying innocent people?

The 49 Orlando Victims and Their Stories, from The Advocate, they were dancers, lovers, friends…

Omar Mateen was the gunman. He claimed he did it for Islam. The reality was that he was gay, and his religion wouldn’t have it. He was a regular at Pulse and regularly messaged other men on a gay dating app. He beat his wife and hated his life so much that he had to kill the people he wanted to be like the most. The free spirits, the ones who were proud and out about their homosexuality. Not chained in a closet like this deranged gunman. We need to talk about gun control and domestic violence.

Even days later all of the hairs on my body on are on end, tears welling thinking about this tragedy.

My heart shattered into a gazillion shards of sadness. Blood and glitter. Act of terror and a hate crime- terrorists vs gays? Its like predator vs alien for the horrible Republican ignorance, I could not even click the sound on what Donald Trump had to say about this, I was already sick enough at the reality.

People just going to dance at a safe place to have fun. Gay clubs exist because they must. It is a family for people who may have been rejected by their birth families, It could have been Club Marcella or The Underground, it could have been here, my clubs, my friends.

miss pulse anita waistline

Anita Waistline is Miss Pulse 2015, she is a Buffalo gal, home for Pride. I have heard there were other Buffalo Drag Performers that were performing at Pulse that day, all of whom were ok. That literally brought it home to me.

There is no reason for hate, there is no reasoning with evil, violence and oppression is now. It happens and the world stops for only a moment. We listen to accounts of gun shots that lasted the whole song. People bleeding and crying, dying, molten red on the dance floor, broken dreams of people who had already gone through so much.

The frantic mother trying to locate her son who was in the club hit me hard. She proudly told the camera with tears that he had set up a Gay-Straight Alliance at his high school. When I was in high school we did not have a gay straight alliance so we started our own, we fought for it and made it happen.

I am proud to say that the Frontier Central High School Gay Straight Alliance still marches in the Pride parade. I cried when I saw them a couple years ago. It was a necessary place. I do wish it was LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Transgender, Queer). Having that letter to identify with, feeling included, is so important, especially when coming out as a young teen.

Direct action is the only way to a revolution, even a personal one. If people are hungry, feed them, if they are sad give them a hug, and if they need a safe space make it happen.

When I went to put my deconstructed trike in my car I noticed a giant Silence of the Lambs style moth crawl out of it, as if it opened its wings for the first time. A transformation, a metamorphosis. I road my trike and wore my glasses in the Buffalo PRIDE Parade last week with a giant rainbow flag flowing strong.

gay pride america tricycle

We marched because others could not. We marched because our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are still dying and being targeted. We march for Orlando because we know it won’t stop there, a beautiful candle light vigil taking over city hall, the Peace Bridge lit up rainbow, the world lit in rainbow solidarity, flags half mast, it could have been us. It could have been my friends. It was. 49 members of my extended family dead, 53 others hurt, the rest of the world suffering, wondering who’s next?

Life is too short to be someone you aren’t, sounds simple enough. A close friend of mine helped me disassemble and paint my trike before she sadly passed away. Chelsea Lee Jones changed my life. She was more than just a friend. She was a transgender woman who finally became her true self, and then was tragically taken from all who loved her so dearly.

She fixed clocks, enjoyed swing dancing, and brought women like her out into the world who were too scared to go alone. She inspired her community and made me a better person.

Life sometimes only gives you a lovely creature such as Chelsea for a short time, but their impact resonates beyond their body. I will forever wear the ring she made me. It takes a lot of guts to be exactly who you are without fear, and that was the essence of her, fearless beyond comprehension.

chelsea cyclist

We lose too many people who are fearless, unafraid, targeted for their unbridled beauty and raw uniqueness.

In the US and Canada it is normal to be different, we take that for granted, but there is still obviously a long way to go. Don’t let fear win. Love wins always. Strength in numbers will gain equality for all.

Be kind to others and take care of yourself. Hold your special ones closer, tell people you love them everyday, that stuff is small but everlasting. Stand stronger and hold your head high with pride, never forget the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub, what happened in Orlando will be a lingering scar on our hearts forever.

Honor and Donate to the victims of the Pulse Shooting

pulse

 

I want to be all of the colors simultaneously. When my kindergarten teacher asked me what my favorite color was, I said “Rainbow.” She responded with, “That’s not a color. What’s your real favorite color, Catherine?” I said “GLITTER” with a smile on my face. I knew damn well what I was saying. Glitter and rainbow are colors: they are all of the colors and beautiful intricate sparkling facets of diversity. Who knew I was just a budding color theorist? A tiny little genius really. I didn’t and still don’t give a fuck.

I have always wanted to be a rainbow, wear as many colors as possible and dye my hair the spectrum. I am my art, my art is me – I wear it like a flag with fashion, makeup, and crazy fun hair. Dying my hair fantasy colors has been something I’ve identified with for my whole life. I remember the first time I had pink in my hair, I was exhilarated. It made me feel so beautiful, so punk. My mom hated it, but my best friend was the one who put it on my hair. Pink hair don’t care. I have been a lot of colors since and don’t see myself going natural anytime soon. My roommate is a true unicorn, his hair (even his pits and pubes) are always a different, perfect hue.

The other day I slept past noon, then I woke up all gross and depressed, crusty from being a mope. Heartbroken and lost in my stupidity. I needed to create. That first stroke was like that perfect glass of water when you slept too close to the heat vent and feel dried out. Making art revitalizes me, it puts life in my veins. It is a necessity, NOT a hobby. I went to art school when I was told to be a doctor. I knew at a young age that all I wanted was to be happy for the rest of my life, I never cared about money. Art is my air. Money is evil bullshit that people kill over. I would rather help be the voice of my generation, comment on the world at large, show people the pictures in my head, and express everything. Even making bad art feels good.

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I AM AN ARTIST! In a dismal world you need to find the luminescence. Sex, politics, ugliness, and beauty. I make art like I make love, passionately and with every part of my soul. You know I care about you when I make art about you or for you. I have so many things in my head that I want to make, and if I take the time to do a stupid portrait of you, that’s love. Art is selfish until you share it. Art is therapy, it soothes a weary heart and puts mortar between the bricks of a positive life foundation.

I sacrificed a lot of kisses in the name of art. Scrumptious yummy little droplets of chocolate kisses. I harvested their foil and little kisses flags to glue on to my painting. I use every opportunity to make art. Inspiration is instigation. I enjoy sparking art in others more than anything in the world. To create is to live life to the fullest. There’s no regrets in art, just happy accidents as Bob Ross would say. I will always share my art supplies. I love bringing a box of porn, scissors, glue, and just let people live out their fantasy. Hilarity ensues – instant party slayer.

I remember hanging out with my grandma watching Bob Ross and desperately wanting to paint like him. He created luscious landscapes with a zen-like ease. Some Bob Ross wisdom: “I think there’s an artist hidden at the bottom of every single one of us. You too can paint almighty pictures.” I was always so incredibly obsessed with art. I did watercolor paintings of drag queens. I outgrew my Catholic school’s art cart and the do-it-like-the-example philosophy to art very young and my mom was awesome enough to further my art advancement with outside classes.

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I remember finding Frida Kahlo for the first time. I loved that she didn’t give a fuck about her eyebrow. The hair on her upper lip inspired me. She revolutionized the selfie and didn’t give a flying feminist fuck about what a woman was supposed to do or look like. She was a bisexual communist painter who had an affair with Georgia O’Keefe. My kind of weird, I saw her as a soul sister. Her pain so freely expressed in front of me, teaching me to express my own.

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
― Frida Kahlo

I am so happy that I am not alone. I wish I could have met them both, instead their inspiration lives on in my heart and work. I’ve done burlesque as both Bob Ross (aka Boobs Ross) and Frida Kahlo respectively. I have painted canvases with my boobs as the brush on stage in front of shocked fans. That feeling is everything.

I use art to lift me out of horrible holes. It puts the lotion on the skin – and believe me I need lotion, my skin is the worst. It puts the paint on the canvas and the ink on the paper. I look at the world with intention, I search for beautiful intricate details in moments of pure madness. I see possibility in the abject and linger in the strange. I want to change things, even if just within myself. Damn, it feels good to be a painter.