AS: For many of us in the SF Bay Area, June is about (Queer) Pride as well as Juneteenth. I greet these events with so many kinds of feelings. For Juneteenth—getting our country to celebrate Black people is like pulling teeth. Why wasn’t I taught about Juneteenth in elementary school, in high school? Why isn’t it on the list of Federal Holidays? Also: I really want Black Joy day, and celebrations of Black heroes of all kinds. Give me Toni Morrison day, give me Black inventors week, and give me the week off to barbeque, hang with friends, and watch Black movies.
CY: I would love to see Black Joy day become a reality! In my immediate family, Pride is a big deal—more of us are LGBTQ+ than not! I lived in a fairly conservative town for most of my adult life, and Pride celebrations were always in the larger cities an hour or more away. Now I’m living in a relatively progressive college town, and with Covid-19 starting to slip into the rearview, I’m curious to see how the community comes together—and how (or whether) it carries over throughout the rest of the year.
AS: Queer pride is . . . complicated. To me, it feels like an ad-saturated cash grab. And yet visibility is so necessary. Being queer is not safe. But there’s the other side of things. In my personal experience— bartending in Castro—so many of the gay guys I met were misogynistic, unapologetically racist, classist, superficial people. And growing up, the people on my mom’s side of my family (my mom is Black) were some of the most violently homophobic people I have met. So while I’m constantly longing to connect with people, I am also faced with the irony that so many people who are mistreated by our culture also mistreat each other.
CY: My daughter worked in the Castro a few years ago and said the same thing; she experienced rampant misogyny from men she had previously felt a kinship with based on their shared queerness. I guess the lesson is that having one thing in common does not necessarily mean that we share a larger cross-section of our ideals, and that being marginalized in one way does not automatically give us empathy across intersectional lines. Our own identities and experiences shape us, but there is no Transitive Property of Marginalization—it’s still up to us to learn to be allies to those with different experiences. That process can begin as simply as asking ourselves, “If it’s like this for me, what must it be like for them?” with the knowledge that our answer may be wrong, and even if it’s right, it’s only going to provide a sliver of the picture. The rest comes down to seeking out the stories of others and truly listening.
AS: Fiction and poetry are places where we (as a culture) can tell our stories, where we can see each other, where we can be seen, and hopefully, better understand each other. Where we can examine the complications of life, identity, existence, and coexistence. These are also mediums where we can just have fun! Christie, I feel like we celebrate all kinds of people through our selections, and I think if people read these works, they will inevitably find perspectives they might not be familiar with. There’s a lot to discover in our pages, in terms of craft, ideas, narratives, and in terms of people.
CY: That’s the vision that you and I shaped together from the start, and I hope that our readers are finding stories that both resonate with them and challenge them. June is a good month to reflect on how far we’ve come and take some joy in that, but also to think about how we can be better allies to each other on the long road ahead.
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In this issue’s short fiction, Rajan Khanna takes us on a literary trip that Dante and Milton would envy, in “Your Ticket to Hell”, and Cara DiGirolamo invites us to a perilous party in “A Gift from the Queen of Faerie to the King of Hell”; for flash fiction, Catherine J. Coles describes the dangers of a . . . transformative life—but with a lovely twist; in “Dos Coyotes”, and Christine Tyler’s “The Port of Le Havre” explores home and identity; for poetry, we have “Echidna” by Donyae Coles and “Magic Carpet” by Colleen Anderson. Plus essay “How to Steal a Million
Dollars Dragons” by author/sculptor/fantastical cake maker Effie Seiberg. Enjoy!
Spread the word!