InspiHERed By spotlights phenomenal women in the Black queer community—everyone from artists to activists. Each month ELIXHER features someone whose personal journey and individual craft inspire us to dream bigger, laugh harder, and love deeper. This month ELIXHER spotlights poet and author of “Dream of a Beginner,” an anthology of quotes and “Coming Out of Nowhere,” where she explores opinions on issues surrounding being gay through social networking sites, Natasha “T” Miller.
ELIXHER: Who is Natasha “T” Miller?
T MILLER: I’m an auntie, first. I’m a poet, last. I’m a human, second…I’m a person who wants to see other people doing better than what they are doing, than their current condition.
ELIXHER: What are some ways through your poetry do you think you achieve this goal?
T MILLER: Through my writing I provide a sense of forgiveness, and healing, and empowerment. By bringing my own stories, and being truthful and honest about how I deal with them, I actually help other people to sit down and reflect and deal with their problems in a more realist way. I just really understand that what I’m doing isn’t as much poetry as it is real life.
ELIXHER: What was the inspiration for the book “Coming Out of Nowhere” and what were some of the things you learned by compiling it?
T MILLER: My initial inspiration for “Coming Out of Nowhere” was me just trying to make use of everything I put on the Internet to my advantage. I didn’t want to see all these comments, and engage in all of these conversations via Facebook and via Twitter and just let them go. I wanted to have something happen after the conversation goes. Really, I was just online, and I was looking at some of the conversations I’ve had, and I was trying to figure out how to not let these conversations get lost. One day I just happened to be on the Internet and one of my close friends, one of my inspirations for this book, he actually made a status, an anti-gay status. He was actually one of my friends responsible for one of my poetry slams and I didn’t know he felt that way. Once I saw that, that made me sit down and think about the people I deal with on a day-to-day basis and if these people are different people online or are there personalities really as we see it online versus who they are in real life. Then it was like, I need to put all this in a book. I need people to see the things they put online and get a grasp of the things you are actually doing when you sit back and look at it.
ELIXHER: What is some advice you would give to someone going into these conversations, whether it be in a public arena or on the Internet, to address some of the issues you present in your book?
T MILLER: I think a positive way to go about it is to always go into these conversations understanding that what you are saying is not necessarily right and what others are saying is not necessarily wrong. Even when I’m in these conversations I selected in the book, there are a lot of things I’m understanding from someone else’s prospective on the other side. So, people may say, I’m gay, or I’m anti-gay, so I’m good or bad, but it’s not that black and white. So I think that going into these conversations you have to automatically understand, you’re not trying to persuade a person to feel how you feel as much as you are trying to get some perspective from them, and give your perspective to them. Go into it with an open mind, an open heart.
ELIXHER: What has been some of the responses you’ve gotten from your work surrounding some of the things you deal with such as hate crimes and homophobia? Both positive and negative.
T MILLER: The response to my poems has been overwhelmingly positive. I think that when you get these communities that are rarely talked about, and people rarely stand up for, and when you start standing up for them, people are proud of you for doing the right thing. You know of course some negativity comes along with that, but it hasn’t been major on my end. I went to Poets First last Sunday and this guy who was a really big fan of mine, actually came up to me afterwards. I had actually did a poem about being gay, and he came up to me and said, “I didn’t like the poem, but, I felt empowered.” So every now and again, you get those people who are like “I’m not really feelin’ it.” But, overall you get people who appreciate that you are actually standing up for.
ELIXHER: What are some projects you’re working on now?
T MILLER: Right now I’m actually working on a documentary about transgender teens from Detroit. I’m producing it… Aside from that I’m doing what I’m usually doing, poetry shows and exploring. I’m working on my third book which is about teaching starving artist about how to make the most money while on tour.
ELIXHER: Is there anyone thing you would like people to know about you?
T MILLER: I guess it would have to be, that I’m not here for me. I established that a long time ago. So, everything I’m doing is for everyone that I can hopefully change forever.
Interview by Silver Moore
Silver is a 20-year-old Detroit native and journalism student at Michigan State University. She loves listening to music and is a blog junkie.