AN OPEN LETTER FROM TWANG W LOVE
Updated: May 1, 2019
Greetings from Arkansas!
I’m Brody Parrish, a queer nonbinary artist & community organizer based in the Ozarks. I’m writing you today in hopes of building a bridge between my current project, TWANG, and the TGNC creatives in your community.
TWANG is a creative space for transgender / nonbinary / gender nonconforming / TGNC artists & writers of the South & Midwest US. We are currently seeking submissions for our first print anthology from TGNC folks living or tied to this region. We’re looking for visual art, creative nonfiction, fiction & poetry to publish both in print & online as a collective space for our stories, art & lives to meet.
Founded in 2019, TWANG began as a vision I had to pair my passions & talents as a writer & community organizer. As a member of InTRANSitive, and as a blossoming writer, I wanted to see a project come to life that created space to celebrate TGNC folks, share our stories, document our diversity, our talent, and our brilliance in the area I now choose to call home. As a queer trans baby raised in Louisiana, I never had the chance to have the community I needed, the sense of belonging I craved & deserved in order to truly thrive. Grasping for straws in all the wrong places, I am very grateful that my story did not stop there. I latched onto poetry like the lifeline it was: a safe space to share ideas, myself, and my art when there weren’t any people around me who could provide that space or see me. I left Louisiana at 17, determined I would never return home, or call it home, or dare look back.
Ultimately, when I found myself in Arkansas in 2013, I didn’t expect to stay in this region, to find myself back in the South unearthing myself in my many truths, or to engage in TLGBQ community here or to find my calling in the place that told me I could not belong or be. But I did. Here, in “nowhere Arkansas”, I found community & I found myself & I found my favorite co-collaborators & artists & organizers & mentors. I found all of this in the very space I thought I could never belong, exist, or thrive. Today, as I reach toward my 28th birthday, I reflect on the child who almost died in Louisiana, the teen who left Louisiana, and the twenty something who found their own way through, and back.
TWANG is an opportunity for me & for others like me to find that community. To have that belonging. To laugh or smile in the face of those who say southern + queer don’t belong in the same sentence. To represent our full selves, whether we’re rural & trans, southern & genderqueer, midwestern & nonbinary. The goal of TWANG extends beyond the pages of this anthology: the goal is to find our faces, find those hands that are paint-covered & reaching, to find those clenched & anxious fingers typing away in some small town bedroom, and to have open arms reaching back. TWANG’s mission is to create space for celebration, documentation, belonging, & community. In today’s media, when trans folks are talked about, if at all, we rarely see our triumphs, our successes, our magic celebrated. More often, the posts that go viral or stories that make the news are ones of despair, trauma, and pain. TWANG seeks to combat the erasure of our current lived experience through celebration of our art, our lives, our worth. To this end, all submissions are free, and all contributors selected for the anthology will be paid. If you can, please help us make our mark on the world this year & years to come. You, me, & every TGNC friend we’ve yet to encounter, who’s been erased or lied or denied away, who’s been told we don’t exist here, who’s been told we don’t belong here, who’s been told we don’t deserve a space here, deserves a space to unpack those lies, to find familiar faces, to tell & own & share their truths, to remember: we are valid; we are beautiful; we do belong.
Thanks to an individual artist grant from Artists 360, I was able to begin my journey of outreach, building, and birthing TWANG at the beginning of 2019. While these funds have created the possibility to launch TWANG into the world, these funds are not enough to sustain a long-term vision for TWANG as I see the community deserves & needs. Immediate & longterm goals for TWANG include publishing the first print run of an anthology, paying each contributor a hearty stipend for their work, hiring a TGNC team of co-collaborators & creators, providing free copies of TWANG to anyone in need, creating more & continuing current partnerships with community centers & organizations in the region to bring creative workshops, readings, and other art events to TLGBQ folks outside of academic institutions. To introduce TGNC folks to other texts and artists that share their story. To pair faces I don’t know with artists I do, to bring each other together, to create a safe collaborative space where we may heal, grow, and nurture new visions for ourselves and our art.
Please help me create this space. Share our submission call. Share our GoFundMe. Submit your art. Submit your writing. Donate to our crowdfunding. Spread the word. Partner with us to bring an event to your area. Take the time to forward this email to others. Take the time to email us & reach your hand out. TWANG will be here, reaching back. Crowdfund: https://www.gofundme.com/twang-anthology-launch-fund Project Website: twanganthology.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org FB: Twang Anthology IG: Twang Anthology
Sincerely, Brody Parrish Craig TWANG