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. Kim Crosby, a Canada-based writer and youth advocate, shares.
ELIXHER: Tell us a little about yourself.
KIM: I’m 27 and I was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. I traveled around quite a bit when I was younger and I have lived in a few cities across North America, but right now I am settled in Toronto.
I am the co-founder of The People Project. We are an organization working with and for queer folks of color and their allies using arts for social change. We run alternative education programs for folks of all ages, act as consultants across the non-profit sector locally and internationally as well as co-author large scale art works that challenge oppression and aim to take up more queer and trans safe space.
I do a bunch of arts, activism, and political advocacy within my community. I am also a multidisciplinary artist (but primarily spoken word and theatre) and I am a yoga teacher.
ELIXHER: That’s awesome. So you’re a fellow Trini?
KIM: I am. Where in Trinidad you from?
ELIXHER: Point Fortin. How old were you when you left and do you visit often?
KIM: Respect! I left when I was 6 and I have gone back every year. My grandmother played a really large part in raising me. She passed away about 6 months ago and I haven’t been home since and also with Trinidad being declared in a state of emergency recently, the rest of my family has told me to hold off. My granny has been the biggest inspiration to me. She guides my heart, my character, my integrity.
ELIXHER: I’m sorry for your loss. I have a very similar connection to my grandmother who also passed on. I haven’t been back since my grandfather also passed a couple of years ago.
KIM: In solidarity sis. Our ancestors feed us in a special way
ELIXHER: They definitely do. Back to your journey. You mentioned your work with queer and trans youth of color. What compelled you to co-found The People Project?
KIM: I had been working in social justice work in a variety of ways for years and I [felt] restricted by the hierarchy in community work, the racism, the limitations in our actions. I wanted to be able to work in such a way that I was primarily accountable to the community and I wanted that to be my community, recognizing that as the expert of my own lived experience that in my self- advocacy, I could help to create spaces where we could all (queer and trans folks) speak for ourselves. I co-founded it with my partner at the time, Natalyn Tremblay, who is a Metis trans person.
ELIXHER: You’re also a writer. What do you typically write about?
KIM: My lived experiences. I would say I write in the vein of biomythography. I write about my experiences of sexual violence, my experiences of oppression, but also my experiences of joy. I write strongly from the personal. I think that we need to hear nuanced Black womyn’s stories, need to have us create and recreate, unearth our herstories and imagine our futures. I want to hear the breadth and diversity of our experiences and to address the internalized experiences of shame, of racism that keep us silent.
ELIXHER: Who or what inspires you?
KIM: My grandmother, the young people I work with, their resilience, their brilliance, their visions. We are not meant to last forever. For me, I think that we should invest so deeply into the people coming after us, so our movements can carry on, and change as they see fit. I have an enormous amount of trust and faith in the brilliant people I work with every day. I am inspired by ancestry and the womyn who came before me who spoke up, and fought and also those who lived quiet and loved. One of the most radical things we can do is take care of ourselves and each other especially as Black womyn, who are so used to taking care of everyone else to our own personal detriment.
ELIXHER: Absolutely. What makes you proud to be a part of the Black queer community?
KIM: The company I keep. I have been privileged enough to travel the world and everywhere I meet us, in our difference and sameness, we are beautiful, brilliant, resourceful. We are also traumatized and that is also evident, but our desire to heal and create and love is deeper. I believe that is important for us to engage in healthy critique around the challenges in our community, but I also recognize we are still dealing directly with an awful lot of violence so we need to be patient and loving with each other as well.
ELIXHER: What kind of healthy critique do you have about our community? What are some areas for growth?
KIM: I think that we need to learn more strategies for self-care that support us in coping with the challenges we are faced with. With that we also need to learn more about peer to peer counseling – how do we support each other without taking on other people’s trauma and having good boundaries and finally I think we need more strategies for community mediation so we can address violence within the community without having to turn to the police. Prison is the only place where slavery is legal and that is why they are filling it with innocent folks of color. Black women are institutionalized at alarming rates and we need to develop our systems and strategies of transformative justice – so people can be held accountable and communities can heal.
ELIXHER: I’ve heard so many others voice some of those same concerns. How can we begin as individuals to make some of those changes?
KIM: There are good resources out there. The Revolution Begins At Home is one, but individually we need to identify strategies for healing, whether that is cooking or yoga or getting 8 hours of sleep. We need to be conscious of what things we do that have us feeling healthier. We need to affirm each other when we are prioritizing self-care and community care. When things feel good and healthy, let’s talk about it. Whether that is a good relationship, a good book. In the People Project, we do Pro Homo workshops directed to queer and trans folks that works challenge internalized homophobia. We need to do that. See each other on the street and tell each other we look fly. Need to buy each other’s art, need to have dinner with each other. We should be motivated by self-love.
ELIXHER: Yes. Practice and repeat. Like every day.
ELIXHER: So what’s next for Kim?
KIM: I have a dialogue coming up within the Black community around homophobia with the Black Daddies Club, first of its kind, so urgent. OUTwords, The People Project’s youth programming is about to head to Montreal for our final retreat and host our final exhibition. I am going to be speaking at a few panels, one surrounding slut shaming and the slut walk and the presence of Black womyn. I am one of the keynote speakers at The Unity Conference which is a conference that brings together hundred of queer and trans youth and their allies in Toronto. And I will be beginning another series of Brown Girls Yoga in November. So lots, I am also looking forward to rest. It’s been a big year.