3 Artists & Cultural Workers of Color You Need to Know About

Kay Ulanday Barrett on Reina Gossett, Patricia Berne, & Sonia Guiñansaca


This post is part of a Nat. Brut series in which feminist writers, artists, and activists discuss people, publications, or organizations who are working toward inclusivity. Today, poet and educator Kay Ulanday Barrett shares their choices.


Reina Gossett

Reina Gossett / Image credit: Sabelo Narasimhan

“Reina has engaged in creative and political projects that serve as resources and tools to fight against violence experienced by LGBT low-income community…”


Are you tired of boring white gay narratives overpowering supposed LGBTQ history? It’s played out. Honestly, many Trans Women of Color have been making luscious art, taking action, and above all else, have centered lives of community being the most impacted by violence, incarceration, and poverty. Undoubtedly, one of those people is Reina Gossett. This uncanny activist, writer, artist, and cat lover (oh, Instagram reveals!) has been long dedicated to “the voice and power of trans and gender non-conforming people.” Reina has engaged in creative and political projects that serve as resources and tools to fight against violence experienced by LGBT low-income community, most notably via her work with dope organizations, Queers for Economic Justice and Sylvia Rivera Project. If you’ve had the honor to witness Reina speak at a conference, panel, or protest, you know the impact of her integrity and liberatory practice. Her latest project however, incites an exciting directorial debut with the upcoming film Happy Birthday, Marsha! Film synopsis: “about legendary transgender artist and activist, Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson and her life in the hours before the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City.” Written and directed by Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel, this sharp contribution centralizes the narratives of people who were responsible for the Stonewall Rebellion and has rightfully received acclaim already by Fusion.net, Queerty, Feministing, and TRIBECA FILM. For updates on Reina’s writing, and this essential upcoming film, visit reinagossett.com. Yo, seriously her work is everything and go on to support the mighty truths of her film!


Patricia Berne of Sins Invalid

Patricia Berne / Image source: sinsinvalid.org

In the work that I do as a speaker, poet, cultural worker & critic, I have encountered many, but few have had the humor, precision, and savvy analysis of sex, race, gender, and ability than that of activist, writer, educator and director, Patricia Berne. Her vital ideas have been featured on Indybay, Feministing, and TruthOut.


“The aim is to challenge and reshape the public’s ideas about people with disabilities and those at the intersections of struggle.”


In a world imbibed with desirability and sexualization, sick and disabled queers, especially Black, Indigenous, & non-Black People of Color struggle with issues of ableism that directly correlate with police violence, accessible housing, and social/romantic isolation. Cue Berne’s innovative energies and work, central to the new paradigm of disability justice. In her work, performance is movement building. Berne is the director of Sins Invalid which is via their website, “a performance project on disability and sexuality that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists.” As a the a co-founder of the Sins, Berne’s experiences as a Japanese-Haitian queer disabled woman question what the –bleep — “normal” bodies actually are. The aim is to challenge and reshape the public’s ideas about people with disabilities and those at the intersections of struggle. The work resists the framing of disabled & sick bodies as “less-than,” and challenges what is understood to be desirable by mainstream. There’s also a film, Sins Invalid that is dedicated to the project and incorporates interviews with influential organizers and artists such as Cara Page, ET Russian, and Lambda Literary Award-winning poet, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha to name a few. Check out Berne’s writing and invite Sins Invalid to your organization, collective, & school. Support them as they are not simply validating, but life saving!


Sonia Guiñansaca

Sonia Guiñansaca / Image credit: Sonia. 2015, From the series Queer Icons, Photogravure w/ Chine-Colle and silkscreen, 11x14, image size 8x10 by Gabriel García Román

“…her fly influential vision continues to emphasize migrant struggles as a migrant queer poet cultural worker and strategist.”


If you are looking for femme ferocity and illuminating writing that makes you clench your heart, you need to know the dynamic, touching, and powerful poetry of Sonia Guiñansaca. Her social media presence as @TheSoniaG alone has candor with a curation of migrant and undocumented art, femme (and floral pattern) uplift, and queer women of color bad-ass spirit. Guiñansaca’s work has impact: since 2007, she has organized for the rights of undocumented migrant community at the helm of policy shifts, civil disobedience actions, and political organizing. Currently, her fly influential vision continues to emphasize migrant struggles as a migrant queer poet cultural worker and strategist. Guiñansaca is a VONA Alumni & Fellow poet who has been featured at La Mama Gallery, El Museo del Barrio, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, 2014 NY Poetry Festival, and Galleria de La Raza. She’s currently editing the first anthology that centers undocumented writers, Home in the Time of Displacement, and is coordinator of the Undocuwriting Project and the Artist Network at Culture/Strike. Guiñansaca’s latest interview on Pen America she bravely states:

“Writers of color deserve to take up space and record our lives and record our communities because no one else will. For writers of color, it is our responsibility to also offer possibilities and give our communities spaces of imagination. Our responsibilities as writers are to write, document, hold the ache, spark the healing.”

I mean, what else is there to say really? To the ache, to the spark, to the healing, indeed! Now, to get updates on Guiñansaca’s writing and work at http://soniaguinansaca.com/.


Kay Ulanday Barrett aka @brownroundboi, is a poet, performer, and educator, navigating life as a disabled pin@y-amerikan transgender queer in the U.S. with struggle, resistance, and laughter. K. has featured on colleges & stages globally. Their contributions are found in Poor Magazine, Fusion.net, Trans Bodies/Trans Selves, Make/Shift, Third Woman Press, The Advocate, and Bitch Magazine. K. turns art into action and is dedicated to remixing recipes. Upcoming publications include contributions in anthologies, “Outside the XY: Queer Black & Brown Masculinity” (Magnus Books) and “Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices” (Trans-genre Press). Their first book of poetry, When The Chant Comes, is due out from Topside Press in fall 2015. See their online wobble online at kaybarrett.net


Nat. Brut is a biannual journal of art and literature that aims to advance equality and inclusivity in all creative fields. To learn more about us, or to order a copy of our latest issue, visit us online!

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