WASHINGTON, October 14, 2014 — Lynx Sainte-Marie wears many hats. Lynx is an (Afro)goth, black feminist, Jamaican-Canadian Poet, and creator of Queer of Gender. Queer of Gender is a groundbreaking site, the first site of its kind, dedicated to those QTPOC and First Nation people whose gender identity and expressions do not fit into the confines of the colonized patriarchal binary.
Through writing and online activism, Lynx Sainte-Marie and Queer of Gender have been a part of the new wave of trans* artist-activists reclaiming narratives, including our own Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi.
Lynx sat down with Communities Digital News’ Lady Dane for an interview.
CDN: Where are you from originally?
Both of my parents were born in Jamaica and raised there, immigrating to Canada in the 70’s. I am Canadian by birth but I like to use the terms “Jamaican Born Abroad” or “Jamaican-Canadian” for myself. It keeps me close to home.
CDN: What city are you in now? What brought you there?
Right now, I’m in a little town a bit outside of Toronto. I spent a great deal of the last 10 years travelling throughout Canada and the US, running to and from myself. Now I am here, finishing up school and having some real artsy adventures along the way.
CDN: You are a gifted writer: tell me what writers inspire you.
I have many, many inspirations. Some of my core favorites I like to mention include d’bi young anitafrika, Sunni Patterson, Suheir Hammad, among so many others. But honestly, I take inspiration from everywhere and anywhere now, paying closer attention to writers who have faced multiple forms of oppression. On Twitter, I follow a plethora of talented Poets and Writers of Colour. Right now, I’m really feeling Tapiwa Mugabe and J Mase III.
CDN: What inspired you to create Queer of Gender?
Honestly, the loneliness I feel as a black person with dis/abilities who at times finds it hard to reach out and meet other non-binary gender/ genderqueer people like myself. Where I live, I tend to be the only out trans* person folks know until they reach out into the city. My neighbourhood isn’t the safest place to be out as queer/trans*. So I wanted to created a space for racialized folks to share their gender stories and journeys in a way that fights back against the isolation we feel, especially those of us whose queer/trans*ness doesn’t fit so neatly into the heavily prescribed gender binary. So far, it’s been really successful and there isn’t a week that goes by where I don’t get a tweet or an email from someone who feels like a submission or story feels similar to their own experiences and that’s a fantastic feeling!
CDN: How do you feel as though colonization and in particular patriarchy has played a way in oppression of trans* people?
It makes me extremely angry when people like to speak about colonization like it was “just slavery” and “was over hundreds of years ago” and not the systemic entrenchment of oppression and violence. Colonization brought on so much destruction and decay on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level to Aboriginal people and People of Colour around the world, those vibrations can still be felt today. And with colonization came this patriarchal gender binary, with it’s rigid genders and ideas around sexuality that leave even cis people unable to fit nicely in its walls. I often say to people that my gender doesn’t speak English; my gender is spiritual more than it is mental or bodily. And that I’m sure if I spoke any of my ancestral language[s], I would know what it would be called. I use queer and trans* only because of this disconnect.
I wonder if there are those whose ancestral roots stretch back to Africa who feel similarly?
CDN: You have an amazing way of organizing community on twitter: what made you wish to use social media as an activist outlet?
I actually hated the idea of Twitter at first, largely because Canadians are so big on Facebook! But having met so many awesome folks on here with similar viewpoints and intersections of mine, why not? But I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love it because I’m an introvert at heart; I hate it because, like most of us, I have suffered from online bullying and harassment because of past relationships, misogyny, racism, queerphobia and trans*phobia to name a few. But social media is easier for someone like me who has dis/abilities and doesn’t always have the capacity to reach out into the offline world. Social media is a way for me to get my voice out without always losing spoons.
CDN: Have you ever wanted to compile the work of those featured on the queer of gender site into a published anthology?
Someone has already mentioned to me they would be interested in seeing QofG in print. You never know! For now, I am happy publishing submissions and reading all of our stories online. But if folks wanted it, it would have to be done! Fundraising, anyone?
CDN: Where do you wish to see yourself in the next 5 years.
Hopefully with the financial means and the physical capacity to travel so that I can meet all the people who have supported this project. It would be awesome to put voices and physical gestures to the words and feelings I read every week. How wonderful would that be?
On behalf of myself and Communities Digital News, I want to thank you for taking the time to sit with me.
You can catch Lynx Sainte-Marie and the other Queer of Gender writers at www.queerofgender.com