Innovative QTPoC Space Offers Art, Activism, and Cosmetology

“Mutant Salon” is a radical QTPoC-centered artistic and cultural space founded by Korean-American transgender artist Young Joon Kwak and her partner Marvin Astorga. Founded in 2012, it is a nomadic art gallery, beauty salon, and community center that has inhabited venues such as the Hammer Museum, The Broad, REDCAT, and the Honor Fraser Gallery.

Currently, the space is housed at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) in California. The current theme for the space is "Cavernous," a "kaleidoscopic environment that queers the last bastion of manhood in the domestic space - the man cave." The aim of artist’s current iteration of the space is to "provide an access point for an ongoing critical deconstruction of how we view our bodies and reimagines alternative forms of existence and desire."

“Mutant Salon” is truly a living, collaborative space. There is an undeniable freedom of movement and interaction usually not present in conventional art installations. The viewers become guests and participants in the art, with several pieces designed to be inhabited such as the zine library corner, avant garde seating, and a video game console surrounded by bean bags.

The space also hosts community events which include July 20th's "Oral Histories of Queer Resistance,"  a speaker’s forum organized in collaboration with Dirty Looks LA, and an upcoming event titled "Black TED" on August 11.

Further reading:

Mutant Salon (about page)

Beautiful Mutant: Young Joon Kwak (Artillery) 

Young Joon Kwak’s Trans/Feminine Visions (Hyperallergic)

 

The Workshop @ The EFNIKS Daily is our writing program for young QTPoC writers. Each of the 5 writers identify as QTPoC, and are between the ages of 17 and 22. Program participants receive a $200 stipend for the 60-day program. You can help us build this and other EFNIKS programs by visiting our support page. 

 

Queer KPop Stars Breaks Cultural Barriers with New Music, Sexual Expression

On July 6, South Korean musician Holland released his second single, "I'm Not Afraid." Since his debut 5 months ago with the video "Neverland," Holland has been recognized internationally as an unprecedented figure in Korean pop with his status as the first openly gay music idol. Both "Neverland" and "I'm Not Afraid" are unapologetic celebrations of Korean gay life and love, relationships and community. The new video showcases gay, lesbian, and interracial relationships as well as drag culture--something typically taboo and not represented in mainstream Korean culture.

In addition to openly expressing his sexual identity, Holland also greatly differs from other Korean pop musicians because he is unaffiliated with a record label and he personally finances all his music and videos, with all of his marketing and publicity done entirely through social media. "Neverland" has gotten nearly 10 million views, with "I'm Not Afraid" already racking up 2 million views. He is currently #1 on Dazed Magazine’s 100 list.

Despite his growing success overseas, his videos have been repeatedly censored by Youtube in South Korea. Both videos were marked as Rated “R,” despite the most “inappropriate content” being a gay kiss.

Hopefully, Holland's music will be a vital step in the acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in Korea and international pop music community.

Further reading:

Holland Says 'I'm Not Afraid' in Inclusive, LGBTQ+ Positive Music Video (Billboard)

The first openly gay K-pop idol is fighting for a more inclusive Korean media (Dazed100)

Holland Reveals The Full Story Behind The Homophobic Bullying He Suffered During Middle School (Koreaboo) 

 

The Workshop @ The EFNIKS Daily is our writing program for young QTPoC writers. Each of the 5 writers identify as QTPoC, and are between the ages of 17 and 22. Program participants receive a $200 stipend for the 60-day program. You can help us build this and other EFNIKS programs by visiting our support page. 

 

Korean LGBTQ+ Diaspora Celebrating Pride--Defying Laws, Culture Norms

In recent years, LGBTQ+ Korean-American immigrants have found an unexpected refuge in their conservative homeland. With the rapid globalization, industrialization, and economic success of South Korea, many in the South Korean diaspora are returning home to celebrate South Korea’s Pride Month and are finding a defiant and thriving gay culture.

While South Korean law and mainstream culture is still hostile and oppressive towards the LGBTQ+ community, a series of  vibrant, close-knit queer communities have developed in many South Korean cities. While the first Seoul Pride Parade in 2000 only had 50 people attend, 2017's marked a record-breaking attendance of about 85,000, with that record expected to be broken this year. South Korean queer communities have expanded and continue to grow in the subcultures of the Itaewon bar/club sect of "Homo Hill" and in many artistic and creative circles.

It is a comfort to many that the pull of the homeland has rewarded so many queer/trans Korean immigrants, but they should also be aware of how they benefit from and contribute to American imperialism. Bringing in American money to populate American-friendly spaces in South Korea while being LGBTQ+ complicates the socioeconomic dynamic of returning diasporic Koreans. As this year's Pride celebrations continue throughout the month of July, with the Seoul Queer Culture Fest to take place later this month, members of the LGBTQ+ Korean diaspora should be especially aware of their behavior so as to ensure a decolonized queer safe space for all South Koreans.

Further reading:

Seoul Queer Culture Festival (official site)

Thousands celebrate gay rights in Seoul pride parade amid protests by conservative Christians (Firstpost)

I Thought Going To Korea Would Help Me Find Home (BuzzFeed) 

Itaewon’s Homo Hill: A Show That Never Ends (Korea Exposé)

Gay pride parade in Seoul draws record number (Korea Herald)

 

The Workshop @ The EFNIKS Daily is our writing program for young QTPoC writers. Each of the 5 writers identify as QTPoC, and are between the ages of 17 and 22. Program participants receive a $200 stipend for the 60-day program. You can help us build this and other EFNIKS programs by visiting our support page.  

 

Groundbreaking Mental Health Organization Seeks to Dismantle Barriers Facing QTPoC Health Professionals, Communities

The institutional and cultural barriers preventing QTPoC from accessing mental health services are vast. If the stigma and "tough it out" mentality of many communities of color towards mental health can be overcome, then there are economic boundaries. If the funds can be accessed, then it can be difficult to have access to a health care professional specializing in the mental health needs of QTPoC.

The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) is an organization actively combatting this mental health crisis by creating a space for LGBT-centered, decolonized healing. Founded in May 2016 by Erica Woodland, the organization assists QTPoC mental health patients and practitioners "increase access to healing resources rooted in social justice and liberation," and "provides technical assistance to social justice organizations to center justice healing in their work." Though based in Oakland, California, the group is comprised of several dozen mental health professionals all over the country.

The economic engine of the NQTTCN is its Mental Health Fund, which is currently in the midst of a fundraising campaign. The Fund "provides supplemental financial support for QTPoC to work with psychotherapists in an effort to address the economic barriers inherent in health care and the mental health system." The group is providing a vital resource for a highly, underserved community.

In case of emergency...

Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860

GLBT National Hotline: 888-843-4564

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs: 212-714-1141 (English and Spanish)

GLBT National Youth Talkline: 800-246-7743

DeHQ: LGBTQ Helpline for South Asians: 908-367-3374

 

Resources:

National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) 

NQTTCN Facebook Page 

 

Further reading:

A Revolution in Healing: National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network Launches to Transform Mental Health for QTPOC (Erica Woodland, LCSW) 

 

The Workshop @ The EFNIKS Daily is our writing program for young QTPoC writers. Each of the 5 writers identify as QTPoC, and are between the ages of 17 and 22. Program participants receive a $200 stipend for the 60-day program. You can help us build this and other EFNIKS programs by visiting our support page. 

 

Queer, Latinx Author Uses Horror Genre to Amplify Voice in the “Me, Too”/“Time’s Up” Era

In May, author Junot Diaz's reputation as a literary icon was dismantled when he was accused by several female authors of sexual misconduct and verbal abuse. Among those accusers is horror writer Carmen Maria Machado -- the queer, Cuban, award-winning author of "Her Body and Other Parties."

Machado’s book explores the concepts of female insanity and female monstrosity in a genre that has always allowed authors to reflect upon society's demonization of the marginalized. In addition, Machado’s work has worked to also reclaim the genre in order to express the ways in which "being a woman is inherently uncanny" (Machado, Hazlitt Magazine).

carmen machado 1.png

Earlier this month, despite her account proving true, a recording of Machado's interaction with Diaz circulated, resulting in her being attacked online in an effort to discredit her. Queer women especially will recognize the quiet horror in that recording: the didactic tone, the drawn-out public humiliation, the pressure to acquiesce. Furthermore, Diaz's case is especially charged politically because of the protectiveness communities of color feel towards their idols and heros (even though his accusers are primarily Black and/or Latinx).

Machado's literature and activism exemplify how as much as the horror genre reflects the stripping of people's humanity, it also acknowledges their power. And as much as QTPOC are made to live in fear, the outspoken and oppressed are always those who oppressors fear the most.

Further reading:

‘Being a Woman is Inherently Uncanny’: An Interview With Carmen Maria Machado (Hazlitt)

We can’t protect Junot Díaz at all costs (WaPo)

Junot Díaz Responds to Allegations of Sexual Misconduct and Verbal Abuse (The Cut)

Female Authors Accuse Junot Diaz Of ‘Virulent Misogyny’ (HuffPo)

 

The Workshop @ The EFNIKS Daily is our writing program for young QTPoC writers. Each of the 5 writers identify as QTPoC, and are between the ages of 17 and 22. Program participants receive a $200 stipend for the 60-day program. You can help us build this and other EFNIKS programs by visiting our support page.