It means so many things to be a part of the queer community. By some, we are feared for the way we experience love and rarely celebrated for our expressions of it—oftentimes forcing us to keep so much of who we are to ourselves. One of my favorite lines of poetry states that “it is the voices that make me pull at / my skin this way already stretched / and scarred too many voices on the / inside trying to get out and only / one mouth.”* To me, this is what it feels like to be queer within too many of our communities. It is therefore vital for us to encourage acts of creative expression, so that our mouths become only one of many vehicles used to communicate with the world outside of our bodies.
Many works within “Queer Spaces” echo that feeling of inner self awakening and illustrate a pushing outward against the seams of our perceived personhood. Specifically, in “Lineage” the narrator states that “Somewhere the mountains wear skin and dive into creeks to chase the shadow of a heron […] somewhere a girl becomes a boy or always was.” I am blown away by these words, as they, to me, express the inexhaustible and transformative power within us all. That kind of power deserves vocalization—something I think this issue has done well. It has given queer individuals a platform to express themselves in various forms without the extraneous heaviness of isolation or discouragement—the outcome of which is a stunning, vibrant, and profound addition to queer literature and art.
To the contributors: thank you. This issue is yours and it has been an absolute honor to experience your voices in this way. I know I will continue to be inspired by these unique and eloquent perspectives every time I revisit these words. The queer experience is varied, as are the works in this issue. But I hope that having your work published alongside other queer individuals has helped you feel more a part of a greater international community of LGBTQ+ writers/artists. Most importantly, “Queer Spaces” was created for you to feel celebrated and I hope it has succeeded in doing so.
To the readers: thank you for taking the time to hear these voices that are made even more powerful by your doing so. No matter your orientation, this issue will broaden your perspective—as all good works of art tend to do. If you resonate with any of the expressed content, I hope you feel connection and empowerment through it. And if you don’t understand these concepts, or in general, feel confused or disconnected from ideas of queerness, let these words inspire you to reach out and ask. But also, allow yourself to experience feeling the beauty of it all outside of any promise of complete comprehension.
To the editors: thank you for being proactive about listening to the queer community. I so greatly appreciate your desire, not just to seek out voices on the edge or smothered in isolation, but to celebrate those voices—mine included. It makes a great deal of difference.
—Alesha J Dawson
* Donlin Foreman – Out of Martha’s House – 1992
Guest Editor’s Spotlight:
Lineage by Jay Douglas