h. melt: transqueer art & poetry

QUEER, ILL, AND OKAY AT DEFIBRILLATOR
A Review by H. Melt

I have a text message saved in my phone from December 14, 2012 that reads, “The results came in, I am positive…I am okay though,” followed by a smiley face with a hyphen for a nose. The text was from Joseph Varisco, the founder of Queer, Ill, and Okay, an annual performance series that recently took place at Defibrillator Gallery on July 5th and 6th. As the creative force behind JRV Majesty Productions, Joe is well known for curating, documenting, and producing queer art in Chicago. He is the host of Lexica at Salonathon, creator of the oral history series Queer Lexicon, and co-editor of the now defunct publication Chicago IRL. It is no surprise that he used his own diagnosis as an opportunity to create community conversations around chronic illness.

Queer, Ill and Okay allowed artists the freedom to address their chronic illness in a way that was not tokenizing. It is easy to think of illness first and foremost in medical terms. Information typically associated with chronic health concerns such as diagnosis, symptoms, or treatments were not the focus here. The majority of performers did not even mention the name of their illness, but simply alluded to it. Instead, the performers explored the emotional side effects of their illnesses, along with their changing relationships to family and community members.

In a chilling performance, NIC Kay submerged their head in a bucket of ice water while a tape played Des’ree’s inspirational hit “You Gotta Be.” Parts of the song were significantly altered and slowed down, which made lyrics like “You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger” sound more burdensome than uplifting. Mary Fons silently projected text on the wall in a moving performance that captured the difficulty of publicy discussing chronic illness. She praised her sisters for supporting her by undertaking seemingly small tasks like painting her toe nails and buying her a watercolor set so she could paint the colors pouring out of her body. She explained, “When you have a serious illness, the people in your life get it too,” and several members of the audience broke into tears.

Other performances included music and spoken word by Tim’m West, Christopher Knowlton’s performative drawing of his trip to a sperm bank that doubled as a “gay porn desert,” and a movement piece where Cruel Valentine pressed her body against shimmering black fabric held down by the audience. Patrick Gill read an essay about the anxiety of waiting for an illness to take hold. Sara Kerastas recited a series of monologues about a trip to the hospital that captured the personalities of their family members. Dirty Grits spoke to an empty chair and condemned the audience for complimenting their appearance more often than asking, “How are you?” The chair they spoke to was the only empty seat in house.

By creating both a community of living, breathing artists and a warm, receptive audience, Queer, Ill, and Okay began to counter the difficulties many people face when discussing their physical and mental health. Queer, Ill, and Okay did not glamorize illness. It was not an overtly feel-good nor a saddening show. Instead, it was a strikingly honest and heartfelt portrait of how people cope with chronic illness, proving that sharing stories is an effective and necessary form of community care.

This review was originally published by Chicago Artist Writers.
Photos by JI Yang.

SECOND TO NONE: QUEER & TRANS CHICAGO VOICES RELEASE 
AUGUST 13, 7:30 PM, WOMEN & CHILDREN FIRST, CHICAGO, IL

Second to None is a collection of nonfiction writing including essays, interviews, and speeches that archive the lives of queer and trans artists, writers, and activists living in Chicago. 

The first issue features: Andre Perez, Alexis Martinez, NIC Kay, Amina Ross, Jackie Boyd, Jen Richards, Kiam Marcelo Junio, H. Melt, Joseph Varisco, Jakob VanLammeren, and art by Cristian Gorostieta.

At the release party, several contributors will read their work, zines will be sold, and we will celebrate Chicago’s thriving queer and trans communities. Come join the party at Women & Children First, Chicago’s longstanding feminist bookstore on Wednesday, August 13th at 7:30 PM.

SECOND TO NONE: QUEER & TRANS CHICAGO VOICES RELEASE
AUGUST 13, 7:30 PM, WOMEN & CHILDREN FIRST, CHICAGO, IL

Second to None is a collection of nonfiction writing including essays, interviews, and speeches that archive the lives of queer and trans artists, writers, and activists living in Chicago.

The first issue features: Andre Perez, Alexis Martinez, NIC Kay, Amina Ross, Jackie Boyd, Jen Richards, Kiam Marcelo Junio, H. Melt, Joseph Varisco, Jakob VanLammeren, and art by Cristian Gorostieta.

At the release party, several contributors will read their work, zines will be sold, and we will celebrate Chicago’s thriving queer and trans communities. Come join the party at Women & Children First, Chicago’s longstanding feminist bookstore on Wednesday, August 13th at 7:30 PM.

unabridgedbookstore:

Chicago Independent Bookstore Day July 12, 2014!
Special collector’s puzzle designed by Lilli Carre. Check chicagobookstoreday.com for more info.

unabridgedbookstore:

Chicago Independent Bookstore Day July 12, 2014!

Special collector’s puzzle designed by Lilli Carre. Check chicagobookstoreday.com for more info.

me & bea
dyke march chicago
humboldt park  
june 28, 2014

me & bea
dyke march chicago
humboldt park
june 28, 2014

Have you read any trans poetry lately?

Three of my poems, “Searching for a Flag,” “The Plural, The Blurring,” and “I’d Rather be Beautiful Than Male” were recently published by EOAGH.

For more trans poetry, check out Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, THEM: A Trans Lit Journal, and Topside Press is currently seeking trans poetry manuscripts.

Have you read any trans poetry lately?

Three of my poems, “Searching for a Flag,” “The Plural, The Blurring,” and “I’d Rather be Beautiful Than Male” were recently published by EOAGH.

For more trans poetry, check out Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, THEM: A Trans Lit Journal, and Topside Press is currently seeking trans poetry manuscripts.

aforementionedglamour:

vaganja:

Just got the alert from one of my BTMI brothers that KOKUMO is missing.   The Chicago based artist was in the Baltimore area and was last seen on Thursday at her hotel.

She was staying at the Motel 6 at 110 W. North Ave. in Baltimore and was reported appearing confused.

Of course the Baltimore area trans community, all who love her and I are obviously quite concerned for our sister’s safety, and the BTMI chapter in the area is helping coordinate the search for her.   She is full figured and approximately 5’11-6’ tall. 

If you Baltimore are peeps have any information concerning her whereabouts or spot her, please call BTMI at 1-855-.255-8636 ext 51

If I have any further information on this situation I’ll pass it along as quickly as I receive it.

—— 

EVERYONE STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING FOR A MINUTE AND SIGNAL BOOST AND REBLOG THIS. ONE OF OUR COMMUNITY LEADERS/FRIEND/COMRADE/SISTER IS MISSING. 

WE KNOW THAT THE LIKELIHOOD OF THE MEDIA SIGNAL BOOSTING THIS IS SLIM, SO IT IS UP TO US TO FIND HER. 

SO PLEASE PLEASE SIGNAL BOOST THIS AND SPREAD THE WORD.

WE WON’T STOP UNTIL WE KNOW THAT SHE IS SAFE!

KOKUMO WE LOVE YOU AND WE’RE SENDING YOU ALL THE LOVE AND POSITIVE VIBES. 

I REALLY HOPE YOU’RE OKAY. 

I’m sharing this because she’s a friend and sister and I’m hoping that she’s ok but it’s unclear about her whereabouts. Please share tumblr friends.

trans flag
h. melt
2014

trans flag
h. melt
2014

MEMORY PALACES BY EDIE FAKE
A Review by H. Melt  

"Fake characterized Chicago’s buildings as having an innate queerness to them—a flamboyance in the intricate details of the city’s architecture. He described queer space as a feeling. Queer people know this feeling—that internal sense of whether or not a space is open to them. That feeling radiates from the buildings he designed in Memory Palaces, and can be found in all of Fake’s work."

Read the full review over at Lambda Literary and purchase the book from publisher Secret Acres.

MEMORY PALACES BY EDIE FAKE
A Review by H. Melt

"Fake characterized Chicago’s buildings as having an innate queerness to them—a flamboyance in the intricate details of the city’s architecture. He described queer space as a feeling. Queer people know this feeling—that internal sense of whether or not a space is open to them. That feeling radiates from the buildings he designed in Memory Palaces, and can be found in all of Fake’s work."

Read the full review over at Lambda Literary and purchase the book from publisher Secret Acres.

I GREW UP IN A BIG OL’ GAY DISCO
An Interview with Oli Rodriguez

"Queer is often used interchangeably with gay in art shows. I really feel like it’s based on who the curator is and who’s pulling in what artists. If it’s a show that is named queer and all of your artists are gay white men, it’s not a queer show."

Read the rest of the interview and go see Oli’s work in “The Human Space" at Beauty & Brawn Gallery thru July 26th.