All About Eve

This will shock no one who knows me best, but I’m a proud lifelong pro-wrestling fan.
I watch it in the same spirit that I watch Star Trek or the 4400 or the Practice; for pure entertainment. It’s part soap opera with a healthy dose of violence. What’s not to love? I’ve followed the sport in and outside of the squared circle and have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for  these world class athletes, who put their bodies (and lives) on the line to perform some of the most extraordinary inhuman feats and stay on the road nearly 300 days out of the year just to entertain the fans. As fans we understand this, and that’s one of the many reasons why we’re so fiercely loyal.

The female wrestlers and other talent have a special place in my heart. There’s something poetic about seeing sexy, smart and powerful women kick butt and take names.

More than that I know the type of BS that women and other minorities have to deal with in the wrestling industry. Despite being world-class athletes (a lot of whom can put their male peers to shame),  the ladies in the lockerroom often don’t get a fraction of the respect and the accolades they deserve even though they’ve proven time and time again to be a driving force behind the industry.

So for any female peformer who goes out there day in and day out, holds it down, has my complete admiration and respect.

One of my favorite WWE Divas is Eve Torres. This femme fatale has repeatedly proven to be a class act both in and out of the squared circle.
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Will you contribute $50 to support theatre by and for queer Black women?

“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”  — Audre Lorde

Earlier this year, I wrote and produced a play called Tulpa, or Anne&Me that debuted at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity.

Since that first production, I’ve often been asked about what’s next for Tulpa, or Anne&Me. This is a great sign because it means that the play has touched people in some deep places and led to powerful moments of growth and healing for many. I feel a real responsibility to make this piece the best I can make it and bring it to as many places as I can where people want and need to see it.

Right now, I’m talking with someone who can offer me an opportunity for more performances in mid- to late April. Despite the fact that I’m based in NYC, there are still only a few plays by and about queer Black women being made. Although the world we live in wants me to be comfortable with feeling insignificant, I no longer have the luxury to deceive myself into believing that my work and my voice are not important.

I am raising $3,000 for the 2012 production of Tulpa, or Anne&Me. If only 60 people contribute just $50 each*, I can reach that goal. If only 60 people contribute just $50 each, my work will have another chance to do what it’s meant to do — pave the way for healing and transformation in our lives, relationships, and communities. If only 60 people contribute just $50 each, they will be doing more than putting a story on stage, but creating a vibrant opportunity to honor those of us who are Black and woman and queer.

Will you contribute $50 to be part of that process?


(* This rounds out to 1 person a day for the 60-day time frame I’m giving the campaign.)

Why “Misadventures of An Awkward Black Girl” Won’t Be Coming To Television Anytime Soon

And this is me exhibiting no surprise:
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By Tracy Oliver

Last night, a few of my castmates -Issa Rae (J), Sujata Day (CeCe), Madison T. Shockley III (Fred), and Tristen Winger (Darius) came to my apartment to shoot a scene for the next “Awkward Black Girl” episode. Hours after we wrapped the shoot, we stayed in my living room passionately discussing the future of “ABG” til 3am. The topic of discussion: Should “ABG” stay on the Web or go to television?

Six months ago, that answer was emphatically television. I distinctly remember sitting in coffee shops with Issa, strategizing ways to reach potential producers, executives, and networks that may be a good fit for “ABG.” We were even writing an extensive treatment for the series, visualizing how the characters and storylines could be adapted into a half-hour comedy.

I’ll admit it. The prospect of “ABG” on television is enticing. The thought of millions of people sitting around their flat screens watching a weekly version of the show is pretty exciting. The thought of an African-American female lead with dark skin and a short fro starring in a mainstream comedy is downright revolutionary.

On television, “ABG” could be what “The Cosby Show” was back in the day — a universal show breaking in several actors of color in front of the screen and writers and directors of color behind the scenes. In a perfect world, it could change the perceptions of African-American women at large and fill a void that’s absent in mainstream media.

The only problem is, we don’t live in a perfect world.

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Poking again at the aftermath of the YA drama

There have been a lot of rumblings after the well publicised YA drama of (OH-SO-SHOCKING! Except, y’know, not) GBLT protagonists being rejected. And one I have seen a lot of are people flocking forward to post book lists. Books with GBLTQ protagonists – come read ’em. Which I was fairly glad to see – I dropped in, had a look… and sighed. I sighed because, of the books I’d read, I would most certainly not recommend them or their portrayals. Here are just some I saw being recommended

 

Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments. Aside from the fact I found these books extremely homophobic, I boggle at the idea that you can consider Alec to be a main character of the books. He barely even qualifies as a side-kick.

 

Ann McCaffrey’s Dragonflight Series. Seriously – Ann “Tent peg” McCaffrey is presented as a RECOMMENED GBLT YA. The gross stereotypes, the demeaning, insulting portrayals, the condescension – and even then out of the whole series, the gay characters cannot be more than the smallest, most minor of bit characters.

 

Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment? Don’t get me wrong, I love that book – but there were 2 lesbians and a portential for trans characters (albeit a bit of a stretch and arguable) and none of them could be called the protagonists.

 

Even George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones. How any of the GBL characters in that series can be remotely considered protagonists is beyond me.

 

Mercedes Lackey was mentioned – now I only read a few of her books but there was a whole lot of abuse and rape going on.

 

And it frustrates me, actually I have a full blown tantrum. Because even when confronted with the blatant lack of decent GBLT characters out there we respond by putting together lists of stereotypes, tokens and sidekicks? Or even utter side or bit characters. Is this the best we can do – or is this the best we can expect? Well, I know that the answer to both those questions is “no” but I do fear the answer to the third – is this what we’re willing to settle for?

 

Because sometimes I feel just the presence of a GBLT character, no matter how minor, how offensive or how token, is enough to garner rhapsodies of praise and a legion of cheerleaders.

 

Personally, I say no – hell no in fact – I am not settling. And I’m not going to write my own recommended list because, frankly I don’t have one. I haven’t come across enough half-decent portrayals, certainly not in dominant roles, to justify writing a list. But I will make a demand list – what I want from a book before I will praise it, recommend it and give the author those precious precious cookies for it

 

I want a lot when it comes to fiction. Not because I’m demanding – but because we’re currently so lacking. Because there are so few portrayals and so few good portrayals. And because there’s so much damage caused by our erasure and the deeply flawed portrayals we so often see.

  1. Drop the homophobia. Just drop it. I’m tired of books that don’t even HAVE a GBLT character still throwing f*ggot around. Or having a HILARIOUS scene where 2 guys realise that someone thinks they’re gay and they have that oh-so-funny freak out. Enough.
  2. I want a GBLT presence. Preferably more than 1. And this is ACTUAL presence. Not subtext, not “oh they looked at each other for 5 minutes, totally gay” not slash goggles or implications or possibly could/maybe. No retconning after the fact. No author edits after the book has been published. In fact, no single blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference from which their GBLTness never ever rises again
  3. I want a GBLT protagonist. That means the book is about them. They’re the person we follow, the main character. Not the side-kick, not the villain, not the supporting cast, not the distressed damsel – they can be them as well, sure, but I want a protagonist. I am sick of being the supporting cast in someone else’s story
  4. I want to see an actual decent portrayal, not a cookie cutter stereotype, not following the same insulting tropes. I want it written for our gaze, for the consumption of GBLT people – not something odd for the straighties, not something grossly fetishised or presented as some exploration of the alien. And I want to see diverse portrayals. I don’t want us doing the same thing every time, acting the same way every time.
  5. I want to see GBLT people doing things beyond coming out/facing bigotry/transitioning/being bullied/dealing with AIDS. I want to see us on every shelf, not just the special issue shelf. I want us doing everything straight, cis protags do. And I don’t want our stories being treated as “niche” just because it has a GBLTQ character – a sci-fi novel with a GBLTQ character and a historical fiction with a GBLTQ character shouldn’t be filed together

 

When I get this lot? Then I’ll praise, hail, cheerlead and bake a hundred cookies. But I’m not settling for less and I’m not hailing less. I’m tired of settling, I’m sick of praising the mediocre and really beyond fed up with the scraps from the table

I don’t think I’ll be doing that any time soon

Why NaNoWriMo Matters

As many of you know, November 1st marks the start of National Novel Writing Month.
http://www.nanowrimo.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NaNoWriMo

As many of you know, NaNoWriMo has a special place in my heart. My debut YA novel Hollowstone is the result of my first foray (and a victorious one at that) into the annual event.
NaNoWriMo is important because it encourages bards to share their stories and it boosts comradery among writers fledgling and veterans alike.

But I especially think NaNoWriMo is important for marginalized writers like POCs and LGBTQs because it’s an opportunity for us to pen our tales and share them with the world. And now more than ever, we need our stories told.

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