Monthly Archives: April 2011
No Death Penalty Provision in Uganda Anti-Gay Bill
Frank Mugisha, the director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a gay rights group, said anti-gay sentiment in Uganda has increased since the bill’s introduction. More gays are being harassed, he said, because of …
ELIXHER caught up with Shawn Smith from Her Saturn Returns, “an outlet to explore the rupture of self-realization in the transition to our 30th year through poetry, the written word, our stories.”
ELIXHER: What is “Her Saturn Returns”?
SHAWN: “Her Saturn Returns” is an anthology I’m putting together. It’s about sex, death and other people’s money. It’s a collection of writing from lesbians of color who are approaching their Saturn’s return. The topic is sex, death and other people’s money because my Saturn is currently returning in Scorpio, which means that I will experience challenges in those parts of my life and I’m excited. [Laughs.] I’m excited to begin my journey. So to sort of revve myself up for the collection, I’m also interviewing women who are approaching their Saturn’s return or who have been in their Saturn’s return, just to tell their stories, explain what that was like for them, how they’ve transformed. I have the most amazing conversations with people who have experienced life in ways that they didn’t know they could have and they really taught me a lot about their process, how they were a hot mess and then they grew up and realized, it’s okay, I’m a hot mess! [Laughs.] And stopped stressing out about it. So that’s really the lesson learned. Saturn, you experience it when you are turning thirty. It happens to you between 27 and 30. Then it happens again 27 years after that. So it’s where Saturn was in your horoscope when you were born, if you’re into astrology, that’s what it’s all about.
ELIXHER: What inspired you to create HerSaturnReturns.com?
SHAWN: I wanted to give people a heads up that the book is coming. Initially it was going to be a blog of poetry because that is what the book is going to be. I wanted people to be engaged in it and I wanted to include community in the blog and so it felt natural for me to profile the writers because they weren’t really going to commit to posting blogs on a weekly basis. I wanted to profile them and say hey, this is who they are. And I felt the way to do that was through an interview, but it felt really in-group and exclusionary to just interview us. I already know them and I also selfishly wanting to meet new people and learn from other people’s stories, I said well I’ll post one interview from the writer and one interview from a random person. That was to move toward the timeline of the book release.
ELIXHER: Do you have a set date for that?
SHAWN: I did. [Laughs.] I did. It’s essentially done. There’s just logistical stuff that needs to happen now. I’ve never done this before so I have no idea how long it’s going to take. And I know that if I give myself a date, I’ll get it done by that date but I also just started a new job. And the time that I put aside to work on the book, I’m working on the blog now, so I have to really consider that process. But sometime at the end of April is really the date that I had set. I’m on schedule because I knew spring would be slower moving that the winter. I also brought on a co-editor because I realized that I needed someone to help me with my deadlines and also bounce ideas off of and take it an extra pressure off of me and add some pressure onto to me in different ways. And she’s doing really great with that. She’s very organized. She’s a great poet. I met her at a creative writing group at the Audre Lorde Project like two years ago.
“Perhaps…I am the face of one of your fears. Because I am a woman, because I am Black, because I am a lesbian, because I am myself — a Black woman warrior poet doing my work — come to ask you, are you doing yours?” - Audre Lorde in “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”
We honor you.
We love you.
Since 1998, over thirty lesbians have been killed in South Africa as a result of “corrective rape” (rape intended to punish a lesbian and believed to change or “correct” her sexuality). Some estimate that at least ten lesbians are raped or assaulted each week in Cape Town alone.
“I’m gonna teach you a lesson,” the attackers sometimes shout.
“You are not a man. I am the man.”
“You will see what you are missing.”
“Let me show you how to be a real woman.”
Their words pierce like daggers. Deep.
It was 2006 when 19-year-old Zoliswa Nkonyana was raped and killed by a gang of about twenty men. The case has been postponed thirty-three times. Five years later, justice is still unserved.
A horrendous double rape and murder of lesbian couple Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Massooa occured in July 2007. The women were tortured, gang raped and shot near their homes.
InspiHERed By spotlights phenomenal women in the Black queer community—everyone from artists to activists. Each week ELIXHER features someone whose personal journey and individual craft inspire us to dream bigger, laugh harder, and love deeper. This week, Rebecca Emmanuelle, a 26-year-old Queens, NY resident and college counselor/instructor talks about her life and love for photography.
ELIXHER: How would you describe yourself in three words?
REBECCA: Leader. Innovator. Game changer. Wow, that sounds like a car commercial. No, these are my three words for real: Haitian-American. Silly. Abundance.
ELIXHER: What’s the biggest misconception people have of you?
REBECCA: That I’m extremely outgoing and social but I am in fact quite shy.
ELIXHER: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?
REBECCA: Coming out to traditional Haitian parents. I overcame it by doing it…after waiting 10 years. When I decided to finally tell them, I knew that regardless of their reaction it would be a transformation in my life in some capacity. Although my parents are still adjusting to that fact that the daughter they’ve known for the past 26 years was someone different than who I really am, it has been extremely freeing to show them my complete self. Their reaction was a much more positive one than I expected and they continued to remain the supportive and loving parents that they always have been to me.
Lesbian and bisexual literary icons whose words have healed and freed us…
The truth is I’m afraid to draw your black lines around me.
I’m not always pale in the middle.
I come in too many flavors for one fucking spoon.
I am never one thing or the other.
At night I am everything I fear, tears and sorrows, black windows and muffled screams.
In the morning, I am all I ever want to be: rain and laughter,
bare footprints and invisible seams, always without breath or definition.
I claim every single dawn, for yesterday is simply what I was, and tomorrow even that will be gone.
— “Feminist or Womanist”
When you want very much
something that you can have
consider it a gift;
accept it gracefully.
— “Accept It Gracefully”
Our Family is a series that celebrates two-mommy families and delves into some of the challenges they face. The goal of the series is to depict same-sex parent families in a way that’s authentic and dispels myths associated with same-sex childrearing. Today we catch up with Tiffany, a 31-year-old small business owner, her partner Carla, a 30-year-old social services worker, and their four children: Darren, Aisha, Erica and Jermaine.*
ELIXHER: Tell us a bit about your family.
TIFFANY: We have four children, all biological. My partner has three girls and I have one boy from previous heterosexual relationships. We live outside of DC in Northern Virginia.
Darren, 9, is the lone boy! He’s very diplomatic, but he also thinks he knows everything and will debate a point until the end. He is very confident, right or wrong. He, like most boys, loves video games, plays football and basketball. He’s also an honor roll student. He’s also very forgetful. It’s typical for him to misplace something. He lost a quarter from the door of the house to the car and again from the car to school one time. But this is typical Darren! [Laughs.]
Aisha, the oldest girl, is 8. She is our little fashionista and chatterbox. I swear she’s the next Oprah or Donna Karan. She loves all things girly and is a Girl Scout. She has an incredible eye for design and makes clothes for her dolls. I mean stuff that we would want to wear. She loves people and being around people and talking to people. She’s extremely extroverted.
Erica is 5 and is very strong-willed. She just started Kindergarten and loves it. She was upset because there was no school on the weekends! She is the only one of all four of the children who helps me in the kitchen. Albeit, she’s just “working” for a taste of whatever I’m making, but she’s always a big help and can be counted on to get stuff done. Unlike Darren, if I want something held on to, I can give it to Erica. If you give her something, trust, she will not lose it.
Then there’s Jermaine who is 4 and is the boss. She’s our little enforcer and helps keeps the other kids in line. She’s not afraid to get in someone’s face and tell them what they need to do. [Laughs.]
ELIXHER: It sounds like a lot of personalities under one roof! How long have you and your partner been together? And how/when did you know it was the “right” time blend families?
TIFFANY: We were together in high school, and she found me again after ten years apart. I’ve always loved her and so it was just “right.”