THEY.

28Jan14

Hi, everyone. I’ve been having a lot of pronoun angst lately so I thought I would state this clearly.

My name is Quito and I’m a proud transgender person. I prefer “they” pronouns, and have been using them in queer community for a couple of years now. Because I know myself to be androgynous or agender (ie not male, not female, but kinda in between or neither or both, considering a physical transition but moving slow with those decisions), neither “he” nor “she” feels accurate, which is why “they” works best for me.

Yes, “they” is grammatically correct, you can google it for many confirming articles.

I know this may feel weird to some of you because I still live in a female body so using “she”may look right to you, but trust me – I’ve spent a lot of time thinking this through and what you see is not always what you get.

I understand if it takes you a while to switch to “they”, especially if we’ve known each other for a long time. But I do take it as a sign of respect not just for me but for other trans folks who use gender-neutral pronouns out there if you try. And I bet I won’t be the last person in your life to ever ask you to make this switch.

Consider this a small step you can take in living out your principles, and acknowledging that there are people out there like me who don’t fit into standard “male” and “female” boxes (ie the gender binary) but are trying to counteract hundreds or thousands of years of invisibility and oppression, starting with the very language we use to address ourselves.

(Please also note : not every trans person prefers “they” as their pronoun and some downright hate it, many feel strongly male or female and prefer “he” or “she” pronouns.  There are a lot of variations in trans people’s experiences and I’m only speaking for myself here. The only way to find out for sure is to ASK.)

If you slip and use “she” with me don’t worry about apologizing – just try to get it right next time. I promise you’ll get used to it eventually! (It took me two years to adjust but now it’s the only thing that feels right.) Cultural shifts take time but I hope we can all be committed to this one.

Thanks so much for loving me enough to try. You’re the best. ❤


in case you can’t make it to the show at the Bureau of General Services – Queer Division, here is a link to the images included in it. (this is a picture from the Bureau’s tumblr of Penny Arcade reading stories in front of my big messy installation.) Show will be up til December 31, check it out!

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Nelson-Mandela-Freedom

I was having some feelings this morning  that turned into the longest Facebook post I’ve ever written but I guess some feelings require many paragraphs to explain, here they are.

Thinking about Mandela, empathy, a revolution in human relationships, queer economics, functional interdependent communities, last night’s incredible/inspiring JFREJ Meyer Awards, how communities age and grow over time, and what it means to speak the truth and see beyond the present and work collectively towards making that real. 

Last night Jenny Romaine talked about how we are in an age of radical transformation and I’m trying to unpack why I immediately thought YES. FASTER. NOW. HOW CAN I HELP. It’s raining and I am surrounded by scribbled ideas and diagrams on yellowed paper and tomorrow I have to facilitate a conversation about one radical community’s future, interconnected with this greater web of communities of queers and other questioners. Trying to figure out what ideas of my own to bring to the table.

Big picture thinking. Back to Mandela. Strength, persistence, bravery. Or maybe just doing the things that made the most sense at the time. Seeing clearly forward.

There are visions I have about who we are and what we are meant to become…. last night I saw empires falling in my mind. The us/them/1% bullshit finally crumbling, or maybe just abandoned. I think *so much* about how to acknowledge better systems that we are already developing, embrace them wholeheartedly, be loyal to them, do better. Systems of care, values of health, food systems, different forms of capital/exchanges/a queer economy, why don’t we have our own university yet? I mean, seriously? Why do we bother working in dysfunctional institutions? How can we reduce our collective dependence on a system of financial capital that is parsed out by others and leaves us squeezed and tired? I am tired of the needs that only money can resolve, tired of that chase, tired of watching my friends struggle, tired of flitting in and out of brokeness, tired of worrying about health insurance, tired of watching dear ones do work they hate because they need the money, or the insurance, or the whatever. We can do better. We HAVE to.

What would it be like if we made a collective commitment to radical transformation, as interconnected allied communities? Doing things better, being accountable to each other and the earth, generating a new system of interdependence? I think of Mandela again, who died at 95 after a lifetime of work. I am 37 now. I could have 50 or 60 good years ahead of me, or 20, or none. What if we collectively started thinking together long-term, looking far beyond now to a time where the world might actually function in a way that is supportive of people’s human needs? That is not driven by building up arsenals of weapons to destroy “enemies”, but by empathy? Could we make a 20 year work plan? Or a 50 year plan? Could we come up with a process that was porous enough to allow for check-ins, fluctuation, evolution, revolution?

Can we commit to seeing the best in each other, and ourselves? Could we even imagine aligning ourselves in a larger shared movement? How would we remain accountable over time?

I am asking all these questions to myself, fighting back my internal producer-brain that is already imagining collective visioning sessions of activists and artists, a second summit of stories, a month-long collective artist retreat that takes those ideas and stories and physically tranifests them, just so we can play with it and see what comes up when we try to make it “real” and maybe build a temporary sanctuary for ourselves in the process. I am sure there are activist circles that have been doing this kind of work already, armed with different kinds of information, and woops maybe I’d be more informed if I hadn’t been going through a personal crisis during Occupy Wall Street and all of that. Or could find time to get myself to JFREJ campaign meetings. There are so many roles in a movement, though, and I don’t discount the work I’ve been doing, but — sometimes I am so anxious for MORE INFORMATION ALREADY because my mind is so eager to race towards the future to fix all the things that are so broken now. I want to feel more connected to that work.

Patience. Slow process. Rinku Sen talked last night at the Meyer Awards about embracing failure, expecting it as an activist, persevering and thinking creatively regardless. Easier said than done, but inspirational regardless. I wonder if it’s time to let go of my own failures of the past, and start moving towards making some new mistakes to learn from.

Anyway this has entirely inadvertantly turned into the longest FB post I’ll ever write and thank you if you’ve made it through. Something about this rain and Mandela and finishing the editing process for my photo show next week — which has given me a sense of creative closure on that project, thank goodness — is moving all these forces in me and who knows what will come next.

love. and radical transformation to you this morning.


one page from the queen of hearts

one page from the queen of hearts

 

The Queen of Hearts is a show now, at the Bureau of General Services — Queer Division.

Queen of Hearts
Q.Z. @ the Bureau
December 19 – 31, 2013
83A Hester St., New York, NY
https://www.facebook.com/events/1440932296127898/

Monday, December 9
Opening reception 6 to 9 pm
slideshow + stories at 7:00
after-party : dancing at the Dirty Looks benefit! 

Thursday, December 19th
reading + zine release party
6-8 pm
reading at 7 pm
after-party : punk/queercore/goth/powerpop gala @ Hank’s! 


july 3, 2013 at a secret beach, somewhere in nyc.

it’s happening again.

one night.
under a slim waning moon.
with everyone you love on a blanket beside you.

RSVP HERE : http://tinyurl.com/89pp88r
[a benefit for the green pony fund*]

~ ~ ~ ~ come one ~ come all ~ ~ ~ ~

seagulls and bearded clams
sea-ponies, hermit crabs
stoners and moaners and pirates and punks

weedy-haired merpersons
seedy-shared compersion
sandiest dandies and pansies and drunks

that wicked bitch sandy blew rage on our beach
queers everywhere getting bashed in the streets

AIDS is NOT OVER yet
comment threads shred
misogyny’s cancerous
gender is dead

suicide, platitudes, ex-roommates cut us
untender call-outs and glances on buses

patriarchs, misanthropes, shit bosses, HAY
feel it ~ release it ~ and wash it away

CALLING ALL CREATURES OF THE NIGHT ! ! !!!! !!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!

to a peaceful gathering of epic dimensions
in celebration of queer interdependence
under the light of the moon

show up.
bring the party with you.

… .. . . . . . . . . . . …….. . … . …….. . …….
… . . ….. .unexpected experiences… .. ……… … ….
….. ? surprise performances ? ….. . ……..
………. . . . . . strange merch ….. .. ….. …
…. . .. . . . . . ? pyrotechnics ? …. … . ..
… .. . . . . . . . . . . …….. . … . …….. . …….

but mostly: just TIME.

to be your most relaxed and magical self
in quiet community with the most glorious creatures
in nyc on that night

and the cleansing beats of DJ Ocean
and perhaps a ukelele, if you bring one

ritual at dawn
sunrise breakfast at the new floridian, if you make it that far

$0 – $10, depending on brokeness, generosity and good will
faerie-made amulets and other items exchanged for donations of $20 or more.

* with love in our hearts for the green pony, quito’s affable grunge minivan, who is about to collapse and needs our support and dollar bills *

________________DETAILS AND LOGISTICS________________

RSVP HERE SO YOU DON’T MISS OUT: http://tinyurl.com/89pp88r

** probably at riis again, although :
still on the lookout for that perfectly accessible beach where 200-500 queers can dance naked around a bonfire
if you have any hot tips, please be in touch
in the meantime get on the list : so you will know what happens, one way or another.

call 347-470-SJNN – the weather hotline, courtesy of the sarah jenny news network, on the day of the party for news and gossip about clouds and thunder and lunar eclipses!

pony shuttles to the secret beach? probably. get on the list to find out, and please be in touch if you have transportation to offer.

* final info about the pony shuttles will be sent to the list 24-48 hours prior to the party. location announced by 4pm on the day of the party.

RAIN DATE: the evening of july 4. check this page for info by 8 pm.


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First of all I want to preface this by saying, I know this happens every day in places that are not one block from Stonewall.

I know it is a cliché to be a white person who is outraged by a gay-bashing happening in their own backyard when this shit happens all the time, in a lot of places.

I want to say that every time I read about another trans woman or queer person getting killed, my heart stops beating for a few seconds.

And I have read about too many of these killings lately. And counseled friends who have been harassed and beaten on the streets for being queer.

Let’s be even more specific : most of these bashings have been directed at faggot-identified people.

Two nights ago it happened to Mark Carson, a young gay man being out and alive in the West Village on a Friday night. A person who should be educated, not imprisoned, followed Mark, harassed him with homophobic slurs, ultimately shot him in the face and killed him on the spot.

Right in front of Gray’s Papaya on 6th Avenue. A few short blocks from Stonewall.

Earlier in the day, after helping install the Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s benefit art auction at the Judson Memorial Church, I took a leisurely walk through Washington Square Park and remembered what it felt like to be a repressed teenager on Long Island. To me, the Village was the absolute epitome of cool. I used to cut school and take the train into the city, wander around these streets wondering when my life would get better. Once I ran into Wigstock, inadvertantly, and was fascinated by the queers and queens with a sense of wonder that was hard to put into words.

It got better. I have words now, like “queer” and “trans” and “fuck the patriarchy.” Now I go to the Village to see my friends perform, to hang out at Julius or Marie’s Crisis or visit the queer archives at NYU, to support amazing performances like last night’s thunderously brilliant Ballez at St. Mark’s church. It is a part of the fabric of my adult queer life.

When someone I relate to gets shot and killed in a place that has been safe for me…. My feelings are less about fear of personal risk and more about shock, solidarity, helplessness, anger, outrage, action, grief, community. Love, anger. Anger, love.

This place has a history that means something to me, and now that space has been marked again with blood. Every time I stand outside Stonewall smoking a cigarette I think about the queens who sparked the revolution there. I think about the spark that is true revolt. I think about danger, and community, and safety. I think about clarion calls and when that moment happens that forces you to say –

Enough is enough.

This shit is real.

It cannot happen again, and it will happen again.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

Walking to the subway from last night’s vigil with my lady friend, we stopped to embrace on a red-light corner. A jolt of fear that I’ve never experienced before, in that place.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

And I myself have been guilty of misusing language, perpetuating hate in the guise of irony.

A few nights ago, I guest-curated a very queer event that has been called Pussy Faggot! for years. I was feeling fiery about the gender balance and wanted to emphasize the talents of femme-identified performers for the night, and came up with the mantra more pussy! less faggot! for the evening. While it was intended to be provocative within the campy context of queer language and this very specific event, I now regret perpetuating a slogan that could be (and was) easily taken out of context as fag-bashing.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

I am fre quently compelled to be trangressive with my language, especially when so many of the words I was taught do not serve my needs. But eliminating hateful speech from my language is feeling more and more critical, and not something to be light or ironic about.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

I’ve been thinking about something Berlin said in an interview published this week, about brown queer love. “in short: brown gay love heals,” he said, and I’ve been stuck on it ever since. I think about how we provide shelter for each other in our queerness and how even white Jewish love heals : and yet : it is different. It is a different thing to be in a more trangressive body than my weird white androgynous one.

Us queers and the people who love us need to stick together.

I need to remember, always remember, the experiences of others I care deeply about, and fight for their liberation because (as it is often said, because it is always true), their liberation is bound up with mine, and we are all in this together.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

I am losing my thread here, but I just want to say : tomorrow is Monday. There is another vigil and march for Mark Carson at 5:30pm. Afterwards, my friends and I will be at Hotel Chantelle for a birthday party and fundraiser for Silas Howard’s video project, which we all need to help make happen, because it’s about trans history and besides that, it’s a brilliant and amazing song sung by our fearless Queen Mother, Justin Vivian Bond.

Please come by afterwards, from 8:00 onwards.  92 Ludlow St, just below Delancey. There will be plenty of time for us to talk, to process, to hold each other. To think about our history and where it has brought us in the present. To talk about the future, the queer feminist future that it is possible and real for us to build with each other, in community. To think about sustainaibility and how we can hold each other over time. And most importantly : to dance, to celebrate being alive.

Queer love heals. I’ve never felt it more strongly than now.

Love and strength and solidarity to you today.


i drew a poster. it was too big to scan so i took a picture of it on the porch, weighted down by jars of sunshine tea (but you can’t see that part).  come to pussy faggot!  it is going to be an amazing night!!!

Pussy Faggot! May 16! by Quito Ziegler!


hey big spender! me at 5.

hey big spender! me at 5.

Dreams of daffodils, a sunny field of them, and an audience applauding.

I think it’s time to deal with my stage anxiety.

At five I was the shortest little jazz dancer in Miss Ella’s studio. I spent most of my time trying to touch my uvula with the tip of my tongue in the mirror – though I did rather enjoy the flashy sequinned leotard, which later figured prominently in my after-school wardrobe.

But the dancing…. well. And what was Miss Ella THINKING, choreographing Big Spender for a group of five-year-olds?

All I know is, on Recital Day the shortest dancer had responsibilities that I wasn’t fully briefed on – too busy daydreaming about the crowd gathered in the Hofstra auditorium. So when our routine closed and the shortest dancer was supposed to lead the line off stage right, one tiny drag queen boldly sashayed left while the other girls, who had dutifully listened to directions, looked extremely confused then scurried off to the right.

The entire audience burst out laughing. My grandpa peed his pants. I was humiliated and quit dancing – at least til I got to college and landed in my first gay bar.

I also became deeply ambivalent about being on stage.

Meanwhile last week I hotboxed the Green Pony and wandered upstairs to Bingo at the Hotel Chantelle, hosted by the generally delightful Murray Hill and Linda Simpson on the Lower East Side. My sister Sylvia’s sequins sparkled golden in the spotlight; I was mesmerized and missed some of the stage babble.

And then I got bingo! On my first try!! This was my lucky night!!!

Except um GUESS WHAT. Somebody did some ill-timed dreaming AGAIN.

Because guess WHAT. The three bingo winners were actually required to prance around NAKED and compete for a prize. Two adorable Scandinavian fags and one awkward tranimal, stumbling through Murray and Linda’s pop quiz for contestants.

The details of my participation in this contest are actually too mortifying to repeat here. I froze, and basically fell into a horrific trans spiral of dysphoria and shame and extremely desperate attempts to be funny. The hosts kept poking fun at “the lesbian,” which made me plummet even deeper.

I wanted to say, “actually, I don’t identify as a lesbian,” but this didn’t feel like an effective teachable moment.

I wanted to tell the audience, “it’s not my body I’m ashamed of, it’s how I know you’ll see it.”  Because let’s be real, what happens on a queer dance floor stays on a queer dance floor — but this audience of strangers felt like a totally different set of eyes.

I couldn’t exactly give them my whole shtick, like, “just pretend these tits don’t exist, that’s basically what I do, cause I’m still getting used to the idea of top surgery and until I make up my mind for sure I just have to live with them.”

Instead I refused to take my underwear off, repeatedly tried and failed to run away from the spotlight, and TOTALLY lost the contest.

Syl says it wasn’t as bad as I felt, and it DEFINITELY wasn’t as bad as Miss Ella’s recital, but…. there are memories you enjoy, and memories you’d rather forget, and this one is pretty deeply in the latter.

Back to the dream of applause, and the daffodils. Because next week is Pussy Faggot, and I’ll have to get on stage again. I wonder what might happen if I tried transposing those two images. What is more calming than a field of spring flowers, afternoon sunlight streaming through golden petals? Maybe if I try to channel that dream, my gorgeous community audience will become the beautiful flowers they are, and I’ll find a way to have peace in the spotlight.

At least I’ll have all of my clothes on.

Oh my GOSH.

Pussy Faggot, a seasonal queer happening at the Delancey, is coming up on May 16! I am guest curating and hosting. RSVP here for reduced admission.

Image-spring-nature-plants-yellow-daffodil-daffodils-flower-flowers


It’s been almost a decade since the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, the 9-day road trip that politicized me and changed my life and turned me into an organizer. The Dream Act legislation in Minnesota that my comrades and I helped formulate ten years ago just passed in the State Senate and might finally become law this session.  I am having a lot of feelings about this lately, reflecting on 10 years of community organizing and art-making and transformation.  More thoughts on that to come…. but for now — here are some of the pictures I took that week.immigrant workers freedom ride


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tea party for one, earlier this week at destiny. peppermint sun tea, strawberry bars, flowering daffodils, and paw protectors made out of found ribbon from last year’s maypole.

Slept on the Land** last night, spontaneously, without socks. Woke up freezing under 3 mismatched afghans, decided to head home for a long hot bath. A sign on Highway 103 said MOVING SALE so I turned right, just to see. The sale was nowhere to be found, but Ella sang Misty on my mix tape and miles of country road curved warmly ahead. The Green Pony and I galloped through farms and sunny meadows and vivid green hues before turning back towards home.

I’ve been thinking about the sun some more, about what it would mean to allow its energy back into my heart. I’ve become such a creature of the moon these past few years, completely nocturnal when I could. At the MacDowell Colony I turned up Rhiannon and danced outside in snow boots, returning to a studio filled with images shot in city darkness. On our walks home from the Silver Future in Berlin, Mika and I would stop in to the all-night queer karaoke bar just to say hello, emerging on gray Tuesday mornings. And Brooklyn, dear Brooklyn – there is never a sweeter hour in Brooklyn than dawn, crawling into bed after a wild night smoking up its smoggy disco moon.

While reading the tarot on Easton Mountain last month, I drew the Moon in a cabin of producers, and thought aloud about what it meant to reflect the glow of others. Curating, photographing – in some ways these roles are reflective, hiding your energy behind the energy of others. The tarot interpretation of the Moon is usually about things that are hidden, obscured. Yet, as a moon person, I’ve always interpreted it positively : learning to step back, embrace your darkness, see what happens when the need for clarity is replaced by a more forgiving light.

And yet every artist needs a little bit of Sun on their face in order to keep growing. I thought about that as I meditated in full sun the other day, at Beltane on the Land. My back burned but something inside got charged up, like a battery. To me, the Sun is about fully embodying your energy, pulsing it out into the world, putting yourself out there for others to take part in. Letting your light shine, really, without concern for what anyone thinks, because you ARE the light and so shining is what you DO.

Transition has made me wary of the Sun. Dysphoria can be really intense. I haven’t felt ready to be seen, outside the safe spaces of community in darkness. There is so much I need to figure out first, every decision has felt so loaded. Drag has became so specific, the details paralyzing. I’ve become shy in public, more anxious in crowds.

And yet – here comes the Sun, like it or not. Becoming more visible in my work, all of a sudden. I do not like being on stage, I kind of hate publicity, I have always seen these things as necessary means for my greater goal of being me without compromise. I can keep feeling torn up about it, or just accept the wisdom of the Sun – walk into the light, embody the Sun, be myself with a bit less anxiety. Embrace the process I’m in and radiate it out.

It’s something to consider, at least.

On a community level, it feels like the Sun is shining brighter on people like me, who don’t really fit into accepted notions of gender. It feels like we are walking out of centuries of darkness with an articulateness and an anger that can’t be shut down the way it has in the past. The Plague and the Holocaust and the witch hunts are history – we’ve entered an era of Herstory, or Ourstory, or Theirstory, really. Individuals are still getting killed by ignorance and hate, which needs to be addressed, yet I have hope that mass movements of violence towards queer people will not rise up and decimate our collective existence this time around.

I wonder about how we collectively embody the Sun, in this climate. What positive light we can radiate in the face of hatred and misunderstanding. It’s another thing to consider, at least.

Time to get back to the Land!! Here is something to listen to:

** aka the radical faerie sanctuary in Vermont where I spend time. Tangent : have been thinking a LOT about Back-to-the-Land movements, wondering about ideology and parallels, wanting to learn more. Any suggestions for readings, please send my way!