Hi world, After a spring that blew so many people, including myself, wide open, I am back on this blog and beginning to open my magical practice again. This spring took me on a 5.5 week book tour launching my new book Bodymap, from Three Fires Confederacy Territories to many points across North America. I can’t even begin to tell every story this pring meant, but I started my journey at the INCITE conference in Chicago, to New York, Western Massachusetts for the first ever Western Massachusetts Disability Justice conference, to Minneapolis for AWP (sort of), then to one of Mangos With Chili’s final shows at the University of Utah at Salt Lake City, then down and up the spine of the west coast, from the most raucous sick and disabled queer audience ever at the D Center in the University of Washington in Seattle to Olympia, Portland for the Queer Students of Color conference to reading at Modern Times Books, my former employer and the 40 year old queer radical bookstore where I have launched all of my books, in San Francisco. I went on Southwest and Amtrak to a magic femme of color space and keynote performance in San Diego to a femme of color organized community reading in Los Angeles, back to Oakland, then to Santa Cruz and to Eugene, OR.
It was the longest I’ve ever been on the road, and it felt like a magical opening to perform from a book that centers disability justice, femme of color and survivor narratives- even if it was also a sick and disabled marathon. The last three months of spring marked so many huge changes and challenges in my life, and in community and the world. I celebrated my 40th birthday at my beloved friend and Babe of Healing Justice Jonah Aline Daniel’s land in Cloverdale, Ca where they make anti Zionist beeswax ritual candles (http://www.narrowbridgecandles.org ) and heal with herbs at Passionflower Plant medicine (https://plantsasallies.wordpress.com.) Myself and Cherry Galette began our year long wind down process of Mangos With Chili, a QTPOC arts organization we co founded in 2006 (for our wind down annoucement, go here , and invite us to your community to perform!) and had our last National Queer Arts Festival show, All That You Touch You Change. Peacock Rebellion‘s spring show, Brouhaha, launched two sold out shows of the first ever show of all trans women of color doing comedy.
Like many people I know, I sat with the death of Taueret Davis, a beloved queer Black fat femme organizer and culture maker, in March. Two unarmed young Black men, Andre and Bryson were shot in the back by white cops for “allegedly stealing beer” in one of my best friend’s towns of Olympia, WA, which was followed by Nazis showing up in town. Bryson became paralyzed from the gunshot, is now a wheelchair user and his family is looking for an accessible home to move to. Black death felt omnipresent, but so did Black resistance and love, and the ongoing call Black Lives Matter has issued to non Black people of color to continually figure out how we are combatting anti Black racism and murder in our communities and inside ourselves. There are so many ways to move up and do this. For a few financial ones: NOLOSE (a North American queer fat organization) is having its first ever Black, Indigenous and People of Color only day at their conference this year. Taueret was a board member and you can make a donation in her name here: http://www.youcaring.com/nolose-359454. Andre and Bryson’s famillies are fundraising to help with medical expenses and Bryson’s new access needs: To support the fundraiser for the two young men and their family, click here: http://www.youcaring.com/chaplin-thompson-family-360252/update/339133. Right now, any donation you make will be matched. Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Almah LaVon are launching the first ever Dark Sciences, “the first convening of a queer-black-feminist imagined collective dreaming house for people of color,” and if you want to support space for BIPOC to dream, you can donate here: http://www.alexispauline.com/apgblog/cause-view/support-dark-sciences-a-people-of-color-dream-retreat/ . Here is a post about where to donate to help rebuild the 8 Black churches that were set on fire this summer. To plug into local organizing in your community or computer, go to blacklivesmatter.com. You can also just reach for and listen to Black women and gender non conforming leaders and organizers in your communities about how you can support their work. The day of my birthday, unlike many that have been filled with emo struggle and misery, I drove toward one of my favorite beaches and reflected on the fact that I was 40 years old and had managed not to die, and that while many of us had passed, it is also true that many members of my communities, youth I have worked with and kin have also managed to survive, under the most fucked up batshit of circumstances. And that is a big deal . I mostly took the time off from reading for folks during the past three months, but I did got to read for folks at the People’s Movement Center, a healing justice center in Powderhorn, Minneapolis, MN, at the invite of my friend and comrade Susan Raffo, who helped organize Healing Justice for Black Lives Matter with me in December 2014. But going on tour with Bodymap, getting to perform poetry so steeped in disability justice, survivor and femme of color narratives, felt like one big healing and disability justice journey. To top it all off, I also started tour by falling in transformative holy shit amazing love, and I moved to Brooklyn to be in the same city as said love for the summer! So I’m back and I’m here, with a heart full of love and learning, and I am excited to start reading for folks again. NYC folks, I will be here through the summer, but will probably be relocated to someplace where it’s a little more physically accessible and able to have cheap rent and a garden come fall. In the meantime, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in a reading. As always, I am available to read for anyone anywhere via Skype, phone or google hangout. Towards liberation, Leah