I was honored when undocuqueer artivist Julio Salgado emailed me about wanting to collaborate on a project about my biggest influences. He drew portraits of me embracing my heroes, and I provided words about their significance in my life.
These images moved me to tears, and I am grateful to Julio for creating them with me.
Audre Lorde was the first black lesbian feminist writer I was exposed to in college, and she blew my world up. Her body of work, from her poetry to her prose, pushed me to transform silence and define myself.
I first read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” in the 10th grade, and Maya Angelou pushed me to make freedom my lifelong quest. She wrote about being a black girl who was touched without permission and protection, and it emboldened me to share my most uncomfortable truths.
Our elders are our greatest untapped resource, and Sylvia is my blueprint. Without the work and legacies of my foremothers (including Marsha P. Johnson and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy!) I could not and would not be able to thrive as a young trans woman writer of color.
ZORA NEALE HURSTON
Without Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” there would be no “Redefining Realness.” Zora was a revolutionary woman and writer. She centered a black woman’s quest for identity and love, making Janie Crawford my No. 1 heroine. This book is a lifemap!
I adore no man more than James Baldwin. I’ve devoured all his writings and find myself seeking his guidance by watching footage of his interviews. There is no better orator and thinker than Baldwin. He slays, all day, every day.