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One thing I'm going to read today at the panel about Leonard Nimoy's Full Body Project is this post I wrote about Heather MacAllister in February.

Many of you who knew her much better than I did might not want to go back to that time right now, but I want anyone who comes by here because of the media attention around the photographs and the release of the book to have a chance to learn a little more about Heather and some of the context in which she did her work.
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Pictures of My Big Fat Queer Prom are up at The Village Voice.

It was a benefit for Nolose, and some of you, of course, were there.

Looking magnificent. With or without a corsage.

PS A picture of me was in a group shot on the cover of my local paper yesterday, too. I was looking eccentric at a very moving poetry reading in honor of Jack Gilbert. Having arrived on my trike, I had windblown hair, a tomato soup colored sweater, and striking glasses.
susanstinson: (Fat Girl Dances With Rocks)
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I just got the latest issue of Lambda Book Report. (It's Vol. 13.04-05). The cover story is "Critical Mass: A New Generation of Gay Poets."

And on the upper left cover, there's a little picture that my friend James took of me in front of the radiator in his old apartment. The issue includes an article I wrote about fat, queer women writers: "No Longer Vigilant: Fat and the Word." The phrase "no longer vigilant" comes from a moving and powerful essay that [ profile] amarama wrote as an lj entry, which is also quoted in the piece. Lots of other writers and artists with ljs are mentioned: [ profile] technodyke, [ profile] charlottecooper, [ profile] misia, [ profile] fattest, and there are photos of me, [ profile] amarama (sticking doll arms into cake! credit: [ profile] gordonzola), [ profile] charlottecooper, and [ profile] fattest too. There's also a bit of discussion of lj as a phenom.

The article opens with a description of reading at last year's Nolose and the way I experienced the reading that followed at Giovanni's Room in Philadelphia. (waves at [ profile] ericaceous, [ profile] plasticsturgeon and [ profile] kayisgay.)

There's a copy of "Drink," a short story I wrote. I experimented with gender a little in the process of this piece, but ended up here with "she," which is how I originally wrote it. It's dedicated for everyone of every gender who has ever gotten even a little wet at a Nolose conference.

Then, on page 35, there's "Mortal Softness," which I love as a title for a very warm review of Venus of Chalk by Elisabeth Flynn, whose bio says she lives and writes in Philadelphia.

And on the next page, there's a review I wrote of the wonderful Life Mask, by Emma Donoghue, which is also a finalist for a Lambda Literary award.

There's a review of [ profile] final_girl's most recent book of poetry in there, too.

Again, wow. If ever I should start complaining about having my work ignored by the queer press, would somebody please remind me of this? And wow!! A whole range of fat writers are a bit more visible on the queer literary landscape. And I got a chance to say publicly that Charlotte Cooper's site includes "some of the most witty, observant and passionate travel writing I've seen." Yay.

Check it out!
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Here are some other things that happened at Nolose:

I got a big blast of fierce fat beauty and drank deeply from what Lilli Lewis called the well – all of that hot, hard work – writing, thinking, talking, organizing, singing, hustling, sewing, crying, tap-dancing – that so many people have been doing was right there for the taking. And, I did, I took plenty.

As I was talking about in comments with [ profile] beatgoddess a few posts back, many who read my lj gave me a lot of precise, tender-hearted, utterly convincing and much appreciated praise about my physical self and what I wearing. I do know my beauty (even if I doubt my quotient of coolness -- an essay in itself someday), but a fat woman can never have too much of that. [ profile] fattest said, "You look stunning this morning," at breakfast. Breakfast! [ profile] lovelikeyeast tucked a twenty in my neckline when she bought my book – hey, a five dollar tip! Then I immediately got two more!! There was so much sweetness about shyness of all kinds, so many chances there for the taking for anyone who wanted to stretch a little. And it looked to me as if folks who knew each other through lj were particularly willing and able to have conversations and make connections across lines of age, gender, life experience, sexual proclivities and personal style. [ profile] fattest has long been one of my models on how to do that.

Tensions that arose around some of those differences reminded me about how much fat people need each other, and how much work some folks (like the Nolose board) have been doing right at those points of tension to build contact and offer their gifts as widely and respectfully as possible, with emotional presence and openness, mind and balance. I think of [ profile] beccawrites in that, because I've seen her the most in action (and because I've developed such deep affection for her watching her live, work, play, think and feel -- she's amazing) but know that others have been working enormously hard from their vantage points, too.

I very much loved spending time with old friends and others I didn't know, loved seeing the faces of those I didn't get a chance to really talk with. The amazing Mo and Susan brought me a big red umbrella that they won at the Nolose raffle two years ago, all the way from California, and a great pair of stretchy little pants. I especially appreciated the transfolks bringing their radiance and perspectives. And being around fat people who talk openly about their pleasures and struggles always reminds me of the stunning work of early fat liberation activists like the Fat Underground (that's a link to the fat liberation archives on Largesse), and the gifts that radical lesbians gave me in the early eighties when I was trying for the first time to find my own core strength.

Nomy Lamm gave a thrilling keynote speech that took on a lot a taboo subjects in a smart, refreshing way. Then she whipped up her accordion and did a room rocking rendition of "Fat-Bottomed Girls" (yep, the old Queen song), followed by a totally amazing and world spinning rock star version of "Free Bird." (You know the one – "and the birds they can not chaa aa aaa aaa ange.") She and others are organizing Phat Camp for teenage girls – check it out.

Taboos were being broken all over the places. [ profile] beccawrites facilitated a very well-attended discussion of ableism in the fat community that respectfully, productively went places I'd felt that some fat activists – but not all -- had been avoiding for years. And it can and will go further -- some of [ profile] ericaceous's good questions about strategies and next steps will start to get answered, for instance -- but it made an opening for the conversation to be more deep and broad I think.

I was so happy dancing on the dance floor and to Creamy Goodness, and also in the pool.

Folks from Toronto -- Pretty Porky N Pissed Off (that's a link to a great article about them by [ profile] charlottecooper) and KingSize Kings -- did some amazing drag, culminating in a tap dance in skin tight, white outfits with bands of shiny stuff to -- as I learned only after I came home (because what do I know about pop culture? just what I learn on ABC, the only TV channel I get) – an Eminem song. I didn't have to get the irony, because the whole thing was already so amazing and entertaining.

I read as part of the closing panel, which was an honor and a gift. It was a combination of writers of very different styles. Being given that time with all of those gorgeous, radical, proud and getting-there fat queers in front of me, a chance to offer my work in such company – nothing in the world beats that.

Plus, I'm now a Chubster. Chub chub chub chub…


Jul. 16th, 2004 08:09 am
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The bellman at the Nolose conference hotel who carried a box of books to my room refused a tip. He was thin and not young. He said he remembered the conference from the year before, remembered particular women – he knew that I hadn't been there – and that he had been very excited when he heard that Nolose was coming back. He wanted to honor this gathering of fat dykes, transgendered folks and allies, so was giving both work and praise.

Speaking with passion, telling me something that clearly mattered to him a lot, he said: "My name is Antonio. When you see me, know that for me it's not just about money."


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May 2009



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