3 Queer Forces to be Reckoned With
Yvonne Marquez on Kim Katrin Milan, Edyka Chilomé, & Aquí Estamos
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,Yvonne Marquez shares her choices.
Kim Katrin Milan
“Milan is…a force to be reckoned with and is doing amazing work for her communities.”
One of my favorite people I follow on all social media platforms is Kim Katrin Milan, an amazing queer artist, speaker, activist and writer living between Toronto and New York City. I always look forward to her inspiring and beautiful captions accompanying her stunning photos on Instagram where she talks about the power of queer people of color, dismantles negative associations with femininity and empowers her followers with self-care tips. Her Facebook feed is a plethora of informative articles that make me angry and showcases the injustices people of color face which serves as a reminder of why we have to continue our social justice work.
Milan isn’t just a great social media maven — she’s a force to be reckoned with and is doing amazing work for her communities. For example, she travels across the country speaking at various conferences, events and panels to talk about race and gender justice across various intersections of oppression. Milan is one of the owners of The Glad Day Bookshop (the world’s oldest LGBT bookstore), a yoga teacher at Brown Girl’s Yoga collective, and the cofounder of The People Project, “a movement of queer and trans folks of color and our allies, committed to individual and community empowerment through alternative education, activism, and collaboration.”
Her social media presence and her work is always a source of inspiration. It’s always great to see a powerful queer woman of color voice uplifting her communities and changing the world.
I first heard Edyka Chilomé perform at a small queer dive bar in Denton, Texas and was blown away by her spoken word poetry on being a queer woman of color. She recently self-published her first collection of poems called She Speaks | Poetry which was made possible by a successful IndieGoGo fundraiser. Her book and words really resonated with me because her stories are also my stories, much like many women of color. The book covers issues like coming out as queer in an immigrant family, spirituality and faith, Chilomé’s indigenous roots, survival, love, and racial and gender injustices in America. Her poetry is rich, captivating and powerful.
“…her stories are also my stories, much like many women of color.”
Chilomé is also very active in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She is a founding co-host of DFW’s first and only poetry radio show The Free Word on Deep Ellum on Air and is a faculty member for Free Minds DAllas at El Centro College, an initiative that provides free accredited college courses in the humanities for poor folks in Dallas. Her work will be published in an upcoming anthology called Faithfully Feminist, a collection of essays by women “who straddle a feminist religious identity.”
“The conference centered on multiple issues facing queer people of color in the region…”
Aquí Estamos is the first queer people of color conference to take place in the Rio Grande Valley, a place where I grew up. I had the opportunity to participate in the conference by being on a panel about LGBT media. Even though the conference was small and operated on a nonexistent budget, it had a ton of heart and was a trailblazing event that was much needed in a region like the Rio Grande Valley. The Aquí Estamos team which consists of six young, working class queers did so much with so little and I applaud all the work they’re doing in south Texas, near the border. The conference centered on multiple issues facing queer people of color in the region including immigration, poverty, lack of education on sexual health and lack of resources for reproductive health. The Aquí Estamos team hopes to do it bigger and better next year and hopes to continue to create events and empower their community with tools and knowledge to take down oppressive factors they face in their daily lives.
Yvonne S. Marquez is a senior editor at Autostraddle, a forward-thinking, feminist online magazine for queer women. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and has worked in LGBTQ media for the past few years. At Autostraddle, she fosters women of color voices, manages various writers, impacts editorial direction and writes about politics and activism. She lives in Dallas with her partner and dog. Connect with her on Tumblr or Twitter.