Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s long awaited memoir The End of San Francisco (City Lights) will rip you open; crack your rib-cage and pour glitter into your heart. It’s hard and captivating, a book that truly pulls you in and won’t let you go. Brutal and brilliant, the memoir weaves in and out of time, bringing readers into the intimate details of Sycamore’s adolescence and early activist days. Never defaulting to tidy recounts, cleaned with the passage of time, Sycamore invites readers to share in the complexities of growing up and finding yourself. Sycamore doesn’t shy away from pain, terror, or disappointment of young queer adulthood. (more…)
QTPOC Comics by Nia King – Oakland Artist, Activist and Anarchist
Growing up as a Queer, Black/Lebanese/Jewish woman, King is more than adept and equipped to author a comic calling on the life experiences of two queer people and their interracial relationship. The tagline for the King’s tumblr reads: “I’m mixed. My partner is trans. These are our stories.” (more…)
Sassafras Lowrey, an author and advocate for homeless LGBT youth, chats with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore about gay culture, queer writers, and their new works. Lowrey’s new book, titled Roving Pack, explores the lives of homeless queer teenagers. Sycamore is the editor of the in-your-face new work, Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform. [Advocate] (more…)
“Whatever happened to our dreams of sexual splendor only bounded by the limitations of imagination? Gay sex is now more about regimentation than experimentation, following the hideous rules rather than creating new possibilities for loving, lusting for and taking care of one another. “
Mattilda Sycamore agitates. A self-declared troublemaker, the community she’s most recently zeroed in on for a bruising migraine is the mainstream LGBT community and its campaign for normalcy.
Despite conservative queerdom’s best efforts to hide its “otherness” behind a velvet wall of “same as you” Tom and Hank and Jill and Janes, Mattilda and her like will not be ignored. As parades of neo-nuclear same sex families mug for the cameras on courthouse steps, queer body boys parade and flex impossibly taut muscles across our nation’s gym runways and circuit parties, and far, far too many proudly proclaim in knee-jerk defensiveness how “straight-acting” they are across the net, Sycamore blows raspberries at the forced mirage and holds up faded pictures of yesteryear boys and girls whose one claim to fame once was their difference. Sycamore endlessly delights in reminding them of the sacrifice they are making to be like everyone else. Nobody likes a know-it-all whose nervous tic seems to be a penchant for aggressive truth telling. A 90s era activist kid from San Francisco Act Up’s height, the now Santa Fe resident has released two novels So Many Ways to Sleep Badly (City Lights 2008) and Pulling Taffy (Suspect Thoughts 2003), edited four non-fiction anthologies (including: Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity (Seal 2007), That’s Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation (Soft Skull 2004; 2008), and Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving (Haworth 2004), appeared in film (All That Sheltering Emptiness), and is a columnist and review editor for the feminist magazine Make/shift.
Released earlier this year, her latest anthology, Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform, is a pesky reminder of those being left behind (the drag kings, differently-abled, the obese and average bodied, feminist women and men, and most of all, people of color) in the political and economic rush for “normalcy,” a word likely to make Mattilda shudder. (more…)
‘Why are Faggots so Afraid of Faggots: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform’ edited by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
“Why are Faggots so Afraid of Faggots (AK Press Publishing) is an emergency intervention. It’s also a deeply personal project for me. As a genderqueer faggot and a queen with a certain amount of notoriety, I find myself incredibly inspired by the politics and potentials of trans, genderqueer, and gender-defiant subcultures. Simultaneously I find myself less and less hopeful in the male sexual spaces I also inhabit. I wonder: if the desire I hold dear has only led to a product-driven sexual marketplace, what are the possibilities for transformation?” Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s introduction to this important anthology indicates its logical progression from her two previous compilations, That’s Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation and Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity. Bernstein (who favors feminine pronouns) having been involved in ACT UP, Fed Up Queers, and Gay Shame, is one of our most outspoken queer critics, having authored two experimental novels and edited two additional anthologies. (more…)
Love, Crank, and Complexity: Queer Writers on Gay Marriage, Black Cool, and the Staying Power of Sex Writing and Indie Presses
Ah, Valentine’s Day: for some, a corporate take-over, intended to fleece and shame. For others, a singularly depressing reminder of love lost. For the less jaded and the young, today is a fun day of crafts, sweets, and generosity. And then there are those of us who use this day to justify subjugating everything to a “love” theme. (more…)
Anyone in San Francisco looking for a provocative literary event to attend this Valentine’s Day? Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is hosting a release party of her new book, Why Are Faggots so Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform, published by AK Press. Held at the San Francisco Main Library at 6 PM, contributors Jaime Cortez, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Debanuj Das Gupta, Booh Edouardo, Eric Stanley, Harris Kornstein, Gina de Vries, Horehound Stillpoint, Matthew D. Blanchard will discuss the book with editor and host Mattilda B. Sycamore. Attendees are invited to come early for “heart-shaped refreshments.”
Speaking of AK Press, check out Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex. Editors Eric A Stanley and Nat Smith, “bring together current and former prisoners, activists, and academics to offer new ways for understanding how race, gender, ability, and sexuality are lived under the crushing weight of captivity.” Contributor Dean Spade (Normal Life) and Eric Stanley are speaking together at UC Davis this February 9th to discuss prison abolition and trans politics. A panel discussion with Eric Stanley, Nat Smith, Julia Oparah ( Sudbury), Alexander Lee, Dean Spade, Michelle Potts, Ralowe Ampu will follow at UC Berkely the next day. Specifics as well as more readings and panels are listed here. Also check out this interview with San Francisco Weekly.
Two New York Times’ articles (Amazon Signs up Authors, Cutting Publishers Out of Deal andThe Bookstore’s Last Stand) examine the future of the publishing industry, namely: will Barnes and Noble, after shutting down independent bookstores across the nation, finally be put out of business by Amazon.com, and if so, what are the implications for the broader publishing industry?
For readers and writers who date a lot (or want to): N+1 magazine has personals? According to the site, N+1 personals, started by internist Kailtin Phillips, is “for all the sad young literary people in the world who still haven’t found their +1 (melancholia and relative youth are in fact optional, but if you haven’t read Middlemarch/back issues of Harper’s/J R we suggest looking elsewhere).” New York Magazine reviews the site here.
Queer writers reading in a goth club bathroom, free cupcakes, cheap beer, a dance party, and a commemorative zine. Who could ask for more? Action Books, Birds of Lace, and Kate Durbin are bringing an amazing AWP off-site event to Chicago’s Neo this March. (P.S.- Anna Joy Springer is also reading.) (P.P.S.- Birds of Lace is open for chapbook submissions.)
Finally, please check out this Colorlines.com Political Obituary of Etta James. “At age five, James developed two relationships that would remain with her throughout her life: one relationship with singing and one with black gay men, and the LGBT community as a whole.”
Inspired by the anthology Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS, edited by Philip Clark and David Groff, several writers including Judy Grahn, Kevin Killian, Kirk Read, and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore among others read poems from the book at Magnet near the Castro in San Francisco. For upcoming events and information visit their Facebook page. More video forthcoming here.
Most people would agree that gay and lesbian literature exists. Go into a large, urban bookstore and you are likely to find a few racks full of books written by gay and lesbian authors, with gay and lesbian protagonists, aimed at gay and lesbian readers. Go looking for trans material, on the other hand, and you’ll probably find it in “gender studies”, next door to “feminism”. There won’t be any fiction. Most of the books will either be theoretical studies of trans issues, or memoirs of trans people (almost always male-to-female). (more…)
Gay liberation changed Martin Duberman’s life. In the 1960s, Duberman taught history at Princeton, hardly a bastion of radical thought. Yet he found himself invigorated by nascent counterculture movements and became a champion of the left, penning essays in the Times and serving as faculty advisor to the Princeton chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. At the same time, Duberman spent years in intensive psychotherapy in desperate attempts to “cure” his homosexuality. Soon after the emergence of the gay liberation movement, however, he rejected this homophobic vision and embraced a gay identity. His work also became queerer. (more…)