Natalya Malarczuk

Kitchen Dreams

Rewind to 24 hours ago,

Unwind like you did, last night,

Drunk off wine and a feverish delirium. 

No sex, just sleep, you say. 

So we do. 

When you leave, my sheets reek

with your sleepy affection.

 

That next night, I am left

in an eyes-wide-open dream state,

My face sunken into my pillow,

memorializing a brief week’s fleeting affair.

*

I dreamt of bare toes on a kitchen floor,

With fresh-cut flowers on the table. 

The air smells like apple pie and cologne.

Their hair smells like the feeling of coming home.

The Power of Yoga for the Queer Community

Entering into the world of yoga has been a life changing experience for me. I initially was looking for something that was physically challenging and mentally soothing — it became so much more. After dedicating myself to a regular practice, I began to see my body do amazing things. Working towards goals, improving my asanas, finding my edge and seeing myself go even further… I really impressed myself with what I could do. The most rewarding was beyond physical. I found the mental, spiritual, and emotional benefits of yoga become more and more noticeable everytime I stepped on the mat. As rewarding as it is, yoga is a challenge. It takes dedication, endurance, and patience. 

Why Police Brutality is an LGBTQ issue

Police Brutality has been a source of violence, grief, and fear in both the LGBTQ community and communities of color. The Black Lives Matter movement has made many Americans rethink their relationships with the police. Considering the context of the Stonewall Riots, queer history adds to the discourse on police brutality, exposing the patriarchal nature of law enforcement that is a major component to these violent encounters.

Current-day queer people are still facing these issues. In the 2015 US Transgender study, it was revealed that 58 percent of respondents who interacted with police who were aware they were transgender experienced verbal harassment, misgendering, physical or sexual assault, and being forced to perform sexual acts to avoid arrest. Is it the feeling of power, the patriarchy, brutal transphobia or something else that leads to these encounters?

My Narrative, My Gaze, and His Giant Clit

 

SHALE – My Narrative, My Gaze, and His Giant Clit

BFA thesis @ Samuel Dorsky Museum, SUNY New Paltz

Love is the ultimate muse; I allow myself to indulge in imagery that is sacred to me. For the first time in my life, I am creating work through my own trans, polyamorous gaze. As a queer and non-binary person, the images of myself and loved ones represented in my work express my narrative. I am exploring themes of identity, neurodivergence, romance, and the general intensity that frames who I am.

Shale, a graduating artist from SUNY New Paltz’s BFA Painting and Drawing program, recently had their work on display at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art. The exhibit was a radical portrayal of queer love, approached with intimacy, romance, and personal flair. As both an observer and a friend, I know Shale put their heart and soul into this project. Shale is a natural lover. Through these paintings, this was clear. Their work encompasses love in terms of intimate connections, polyamorous bonds, and, arguably most importantly, theirself. Love is a sacred force and when approached under a queer, polyamorous gaze, I can see their boundless love for others and their drive for human connection.

I had the pleasure of asking them a few questions about their work:

How does love influence the way you interact with the world?

My experience with love and how it influences my life is very complicated because in many ways love is an inspirational and motivating feeling but as someone who struggles from mental illness it has been a struggle for me to conceptualize love in a healthy and anxiety free way. I’m good at loving people but I’m bad at not letting my feelings destroy me.

As someone who is not polyamorous, I’m interested in what polyamory means to you. Personally, I get consumed by romantic love and only know how to love by dedicating my energy to one person who is exceptionally special to me. On the other hand, love without boundaries sounds beautiful. My question is: how do you approach love as a queer polyamorous person?

For me polyamory, (specifically relationship anarchy) is the only relationship style that I have seen successful, fulfilling, and healthy relationships come from. In past monogamous relationships I have felt unstable because I was reliant on one single person for romantic fulfillment. Since discovering polyamory, I have realized that my most trusting relationships are ones that don’t ignore and devalue the reality of outside love and attraction. Polyamory has made me a happier and healthier person when it comes to love, but relationships with less boundaries can also become a lot more complicated and nuanced. I want to express the nuance of my queer, and gender fucked, polyamorous romantic life in my work

How do you want your art to connect with others?

I want my art to evoke the tenderness and honestly of my experience. I’m hoping that with my art I can reach the queer community and make art that represents a more alternative lifestyle and expression of gender and sexuality that has been rarely expressed in figurative art

Follow Shale on instagram @_shale_artist_ to see more of their amazing work. I can’t wait to see what they do next!

Four Great Queer Writers

TW: mention of sexual assault and hate crimes

Finding LGBTQ books and writers can be a bit of a challenge. Queer writers are rarely taught in English classes. If they are, it’s likely an elective specifically on queer writing and not a core class. In reality, most books we read in literature classes, from elementary school to university level, are written by straight people, usually white men. Even though there are some popular authors who are gay (such as Oscar Wilde or James Baldwin) it’s not often that you find popular books about the queer experience. It’s important for us to give our attention to queer writers who have important messages to share.

Here are four of my favorite writers, whose messages are worth sharing:

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is probably best known for her book Bad Feminist, but has magnificent work outside of that, such as Difficult Women, a collection of short stories, or her newest novel Hunger, which explores her binge eating disorder. Bad Feminist, a collection of essays, was the first of her novels I read. Her idea of being a Bad Feminist teaches us that nobody is perfect, therefore, feminism can’t be perfect. We are all learning and experiencing in a way that is unique to us. We need to listen, learn, and support each other in the best ways we can. On her book, Gay says, It just shows what it’s like to move through the world as a woman. It’s not even about feminism per se, it’s about humanity and empathy.”

Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson is a spoken word poet and activist. Their work is influenced by gender, love, social justice, and being queer. “Your Life” is a beautiful and touching poem about being non-binary/trans. “Orlando” is about Gibson’s reaction to the Pulse Shooting of June 2016. Gibson’s newest album Hey Galaxy is a masterpiece and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s an emotional journey. It will make you cry, laugh, and smile. They use music in their spoken poetry as well, which adds to the experience. I got to experience Andrea Gibson first hand, when I saw their show last January. Andrea Gibson, in my opinion, is a gift to the world of spoken word poetry.

Audre Lorde

I felt like this list wasn’t complete without Audre Lorde. The subjects of her work are usually personal to her, as she wrote about race, feminism, and the LGBTQ community. She is a writer of poetry, essays, and non-fiction. My favorite work of hers is Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, a biomythography where she writes about the details of her life, living as a black lesbian in the 50s and 60s. One of my favorite poems by her, “Power” is about race relations and white supremacy. The opening lines:

“The difference between poetry and rhetoric

is being ready to kill

yourself

instead of your children,” consider the power of our words in a system that tries to leave us voiceless. Lorde also has a book of essays and speeches, titled Sister Outsider.

Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong is a gay poet from Vietnam whose work has become extremely popular recently. His book Night Sky With Exit Wounds is his first full length collection, exploring subjects such as femininity, being gay, family, and war. My favorite poem in this book is titled “Seventh Circle of Earth.” It is about a gay couple murdered in their home in Dallas, Texas in 2011. This is a heartbreaking poem with a very untraditional structure as it considers what it means to queer in America.

Leviticus 20:13

Leviticus 20:13

His gold encrusted body

Lies before me like royalty,

Leaving holes in my body,

Piercing each of my limbs.

Arms stretched out wide,

Wide as the Sea of Galilee.

He drips blood & tears.

Blood for the saved / Blood for the sinners / Blood for the forgiven

Love falls from his wounds, tears roll down His face, as each

Breath of Betrayal exits the lungs of His lovers. They crowned him

With a wreath of thorns / With a sky of storms

The sinners / The damned

Crucified, as Jesus was

They curse the love I make /

They damn the breath I take

His blood is not for me.

I am the unforgivable /

I live as an untouchable /

An abomination of man.

Do not forgive me God,

As you forgave Judas.

I would rather live in sin

And love in rebellion

Than follow a traitor

Of false prophecies

And crumbling vows.

A Fighter

1

You emerged from your mother

Into a cold & strange world.

You were born on an early morning

Like the dawn of a new day,

Lighting up the sky with your restlessness.

A fighter, they called you.

 

Panic & fatigue

Covered the room like frost

Until you met your mother’s chest,

For the first time;

And the room melted like a spring morning.

Chechnya’s menacing persecution over homosexuality

A blatant disregard for human rights has run rampant in Chechen society. Homophobia is deeply embedded in Chechnya’s culture. To be gay in Chechnya is dangerous. These people fear for their lives, living in secrecy, having no safe haven. When someone is outed, they are sometimes murdered by their friends and family. This hatred runs so powerfully, leaving many hopeless, finding that their only option is to escape.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has made the claim that no gay people exist in Chechnya so there is no need for government intervention. He seeks to make gay people invisible, forcing them to live a lie out of fear or to escape. An investigation done by Novoya Gazeta newspaper uncovered the dark truth about Chechen government: gay people have been tortured, even killed due to who they are. Kadyrov’s spokesperson commented that, “Even if such people existed in Chechnya, our law enforcement agencies would not need to bother with them, because their own relatives would simply send them to a place from which they would never return.” Whether this is death, imprisonment, or being forced to leave the country is unclear. That could be the most terrifying aspect of this regime: the fate of queer people is unknown.

Lately, things have taken a terrifying turn for the worse. Novoya Gazeta has also claimed that detention camps have been set up for gay men. In these camps, they are either killed or forced to leave the country.

It’s easy to forget about the suffering of those in Chechnya. Chechens live in such a vastly different society that it makes it hard for us to identify with them. We live in a world so cruel to queer people that sometimes, we need to disconnect from that suffering. It’s a heavy burden to carry all the time. But I think it’s times like these where we need to recognize our privilege and our role in bringing change. The US has denied about 40 visas of gay chechens living in hiding. There has been little media coverage on the topic. Once again, the suffering of queer people is being swept under the rug.

I wish I had a potential solution or was able to offer hope but I do not. I am one person and I feel powerless. However, I know something needs to be done and this story needs to be heard. We can’t keep living in a world that treats the LGBTQ community like we are invisible.

Visbility: A Two Sided Sword

Queer visibility is something that that I’ve always considered to be positive. It excites me to see gay and trans folks represented in the media. After reading an article titled “For LGBTQ Regugees in the United States, ‘Visibility is a Two-Sided Sword’” by Oscar Lopez, I found a new perspective on visibility. I realized that visibility is a complex, multifaceted subject. Blinded by my privilege, I hadn’t considered the ways that visibility differs from person to person.

Why Rape Jokes on Facebook Are Never Funny

Trigger Warning: Homophobic slurs, mention of sexual assault

I’m sorry that I didn’t think your joke was funny

I’m sorry it made you so mad that you called me a dyke.

I didn’t realize that your rape joke was a delicate rose

You grew out of your own garden

And I crushed it between my

Arrogant

Calloused

Fingers.

 

What you may have misinterpreted

Was that my comment

Did not spring out

From my offended

Bleeding heart,

But it was, in fact, an honest critique of your humor.

 

I normally don’t laugh at rape.

I didn’t laugh

When Brock Turner

Raped that young woman.

Instead of a headshot,

A yearbook photo

Flooded the news

Where men like yourself

Finding humor in the comment section.

 

I don’t laugh

When I’m walking home at night

My phone in my hand

My keys between my fingers.

Ready to call for help,

Ready to help myself.

 

I won’t laugh

When I have to tell my children

To be suspicious

Of an adult they do not know.

 

The collective grief we carry,

As women, as queer people, as victims:

Is something I have never found humorous.

Maybe it is because my heart

Bleeds for the victims of sexist society.

 

Maybe we are all traumatized

 

I am not angry. I am not hurt.

I pity men who laugh when others suffer.

I’m sorry society made you feel

Like your masculinity

Is defined

By the ways you control others

By privilege

By status

By humor.

 

Maybe we are all traumatized

 

Does your anger stem from your heart,

Or is it a reaction

From my blow

To your delicate ego?

 

Maybe we are all traumatized

 

As for the white man

Sitting behind a screen

Carrying rage in his heart

And blaming it on me.

 

I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.

We are all traumatized.