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“I Wish There Was a World For Us”

I’m feeling ill from betrayals within and outside the LGBTQ community.

I’m tempted to rehash my argument from last week about the centrality of queer and trans survivors. I’m tempted to scream from the rooftops every story I know in an attempt to “prove” the necessity of an approach to sexual violence that doesn’t leave anyone behind. I want a world where we don’t have to open our guts, again and again, for an audience ready to tear us to shreds. A world where we do not have to weigh the costs of our safety and survival if we name abusers publicly or reveal our identities. A world that doesn’t equate “LGBTQ” with “sexual predator” but still leaves room to acknowledge that even (feminist, radical) LGBTQ people can (and do) perpetrate assault, harassment, and abuse.

“I wish there was a world for us” is the epigraph of Porpentine Charity Heartscape’s Psycho Nymph Exile. Her novel is a “trans sapphic trauma romance” that expresses and attempts to answer that sense of longing — for a world that can hold trans and queer girls abused by their “safe” community, for a world for traumatized people who have been discarded because of their encounters with violence.  

If you are an LGBTQ survivor feeling alienated and wounded, I am here for you. I see you. And although I cannot know or comfort each one of you, I want to offer you some art by LGBTQ survivors that has been a source of strength and catharsis for me. These different mediums and approaches show how varied and messy our experiences of survival are. These are not narratives of linear healing but nuanced, sometimes humorous, sometimes heart-wrenching insights into how we survive in the face of overwhelming systemic and interpersonal violence that oftentimes cannot be isolated to a single moment. LGBTQ community is complicated. Community is at once a source of violence, exile and exploitation for many of us; it can also be a site of healing, companionship, and love.  

This is by no means a definitive list.  I encourage you to take what you find useful, add your own, and share them with your friends.

I still wish there was a world for us. Finding ways to express ourselves and to hold space for one another is one way to create that world.

The Revolution Starts at Home

A must-read about LGBTQ intimate partner violence in radical communities, The Revolution Starts at Home is a collection of personal essays, strategies and poems about LGBTQ survivors of color grappling with responses to violence that align with their commitment to liberation for oppressed peoples. I recommend reading it in conversation with the 2016 anthology Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Sexual Violence Movement and a book published around the same time, called Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology.

Porpentine Charity Heartscape

In addition to Psycho Nymph Exile, Heartscape’s essays, interviews and games are creative responses to trauma and alienation, exploring the support networks we create and the way we carry trauma in our bodies through speculative fiction/horror/games about magical girls.self defense

Stone Butch Blues

Leslie Feinberg’s story of butch protagonist Jess navigating working-class butch/femme communities in upstate New York in the 1950s and 1960s as a genderqueer person covers trauma, trans and queer identity, police violence and labor organizing. This is a difficult book to read, but also a beautiful and important one. 

Musicians

Some queer and trans musicians that incorporate survivorship in their music include Aye Nako, G.L.O.S.S., Daizey and the Scouts, Told Slant, Japanese Breakfast, and Des Ark.

Essays/Poems

For a shorter (free) intro to works by queer and trans authors who discuss trauma, I recommend these interviews with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha, Joshua Jennifer Espinosa, Lovemme Corazón and Kai Cheng Thom. Audre Lorde’s poetry is also a must-read.

Zines

Created by individual survivors or activist collectives, zines are another way for LGBTQ survivors to communicate directly with one another and share their thoughts and feelings. I recommend the zines Herbs for Trauma, the Philly Survivor Support Collective’s Strategies for Survivors, Cindy Crabb’s Support, and It’s Down To This, for starters. Philly’s Pissed, a 2000s-era queer/trans anarchist collective dedicated to supporting survivors and addressing sexual violence in anarchist spaces, houses a collection of zines related to sexual violence on their website, which you can check out here. Barnard has another public zine library.

Image via Jordan Gavaris.

Jess is a first-gen college graduate, LGBTQ person and cat lover living in Boston, MA. They can usually be found on public transportation or the internet.

Jess is a first-gen college graduate, LGBTQ person and cat lover living in Boston, MA. They can usually be found on public transportation or the internet.

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