Jun 302014
 

For the past few months I’ve been working on a secret project with with Jama Shelton, formerly homeless queer youth and the Project Director at Forty To None and I have been working on a new project. Since the release of Kicked Out, one of the things that has been the most powerful, and intense has been meeting so many people who share the experience of also being former runaways/kicked out/homeless LGBTQ youth. What has continually surprised me, was the number of us who are now leaders in the LGBTQ movement, but who aren’t always often out about our experiences.   Last year, Jama and I met and began tossing around the idea of doing a project to bring together formerly homeless LGBTQ movement leaders. This is a project that is still evolving – but the first installment:

For the month of June, to kickoff this conversation and honor pride, we partnered with The Advocate Magazine to spotlight the experiences of movement leaders who themselves are formerly homeless LGBTQ youth.

Week1:  click here to read more of the conversation between Jama and myself that kicks off this series – laying the groundwork for our inspiration and our hope for the future of this project:

“What happens when those young people grow up? In some incredible cases, documented in this exclusive, month-long series, those formerly homeless young people go on to become leaders in the LGBT movement, pressing our society toward greater inclusion, acceptance, and equality.

Throughout Pride month, The Advocate will feature true stories of formerly homeless queer youth who have not only survived their experience but gone on to thrive, inspire, and educate the next generation of activists. These stories will bring awareness to the ongoing crisis facing LGBT youth and encourage openness among LGBT adults who experienced homelessness as young people. ”

 

Week 2: click here to read our interview with Morgan Keenan “I tell my story because queer young people who experience these types of situations don’t all live in big cities or find themselves in a big city through their experience…”

Week 3: click here to read our interview with Twiggy Garçon ”Growing up in the South, many of us are taught to keep your business at home, at home. The thing is, what about when you have no home to keep your business? Or, a deeper notion: who loses out when we don’t share our “business”?”

Week 4: click here to read our interview with Shahera Hyatt “I hope I can inspire others to come out of all closets and be open about our experiences with poverty, housing instability, family rejection, whatever it may be — and know that our voices and experiences have value… ”

 

Jun 302014
 

Touring is HARD and sometimes books get hurt. Over the years since Kicked Out was released I’ve traveled through the United States and across Europe with a suitcase full of books! Every so often books will get damaged. Right now I have 15 copies of Kicked Out that have some bent corners and water damage. The books are completely readable, but not a quality that I would fell comfortable selling, or donating.

These copies of Kicked Out can still be read, and I want them to get homes. So I’m offering a special sale to my facebook/twitter friends.  First come first serve shipping+pay what you can.!!!!  The books retail for $19.99 but I’m selling these 15 damaged copies for $5 (to cover the cost of shipping) + anything else you want to donate.

First come first serve – private message me on facebook/twitter or email me SassafrasLowrey AT gmail and I will send you my pay pal address!

Hard Won Home:

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Jun 232014
 

It’s Pride week here in NYC – despite all the complex feelings that I (along with most queers) have about corporate pride I always find it to be a really special time of year. I’ll never forget my first Pride, and that first experience of seeing so many queer people and I try to never forget that every year is someones first pride, someones first experience of for the first time being surrounded by their community. The following is a piece I wrote a few years ago, that always feels appropriate to bring out this time of year.

Hard Won Home

We storm the streets
Spilling out from subway tunnels
Clown car piled fire escapes

Sequins and glitter
Glinting
Like that first thrown bottle
Smashed

Like the shards that barely missed me last week
You the week before

The streetlights cast shadows
Haunting
Of the
Hirstories
we should carry
Strapped next to our hearts into our boots
But are instead too often
Rusted glitter buried in sidewalk cracks

We’re starved for this
Body slams body
Circuit parties
Festival sidelines
Desperate to feel
To connect
To believe
We’re not
Alone

On Monday
We emerge from the rainbow haze
Hung-over
On the memory of
Belonging
On the feeling of
Connecting
It’s never enough
And also everything we spent lifetimes
Not daring to dream of

Tell me about your first pride
And I’ll show you mine
The stumble for breath
Backwards falling into buildings
The sunrise walk over the bridge
To watch the festival bloom
Dilated pupils taking in
More than dreams could conjure

Floats
Glitter
The roar of bikes

That day I did not wear three pieces of women’s clothes
Boots
Jeans
Ace bandage
Boxers
Button-down
I did not know
Not long ago
This would have mattered

The plague has never ended
Cocktails are not cures
And I know more positive than not
So I assume
Until told otherwise

We hug when we meet
Chest to chest full body hugs
Pressing our hearts towards one another

Their fists were in the air that night
Heels and bottles gripped tight
Queens
Butches
Queer kids
Homeless

We never learned this in school
Taught ourselves in youth center back rooms
On library floors
Newsprint riot photo documented eyes
From the mouths of our lovers

Now we talk of it daily
Tattoo it into our skin
Wanting them to know
The hirstory they walk upon
The scars carried
Lives lost
For this moment to come to pass

The heart is the size of a fist
We’re built to love and fight with the same ferocity
Always have been
We bring our love to the streets
And kiss away the road rash in hard won homes

Jun 232014
 
Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery, New York, New York 1001


Tickets 5-15 bucks sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds

With our storytellers: 
Sassafras Lowrey (co-curating this event)
William Johnson
Ashley Young
Victor Tobar
Karen Taylor
Nayland Blake

Queer Memoir is New York’s first and longest running LGBT storytelling series; giving voice to our collective queer experience and preserving and documenting our complex queer history. Every month, we host some of Queer New York’s best known performers, and folks who have never been on a stage in their lives and bring them together to celebrate the ritual and community building value of storytelling. Queer Memoir was founded by comic storyteller Kelli Dunham and playwright Genne Murphy in January 2010. In four years they have created more than 85 Queer Memoir events, drawing in over 7200 audience members and 365 different storytellers. Queer Memoir has collaborated with 13 arts organizations in four states, conducted almost a dozen storytelling workshops and used nearly a hundred venues including the MTA, sharing stories on both the A and Q Trains. THIS MONTH’S THEME IS LEATHER AND IS GUEST CO-CURATED BY SASSAFRAS LOWREY

Jun 052014
 

The annual lambda literary awards are always one of the highlights of my year, they are  an opportunity to celebrate the importance of LGBTQ literature, authors and readers!

my partner Kestryl and I (along with my chicken purse) on the red carpet!

Check out more red carpet photos here

This yearI had the honor of attending as a presenter for the first time- it was super nerve wracking and also really fun. I co-presented this years LGBT Anthology category with William Johnson – here we are on stage together !

The awards opened this year which a beautiful compilation video that many of us had contributed to answering lambda call about what LGBTQ book had Saved our life. I can’t embed the video here but you can watch it here

This video really set the stage for what was a beautiful evening. Part of what I love most about the Lammys is the way that queer writing and literature are  celebrated, and how queer authors descend on NYC. It’s a night that I look forward to every yea, and reminds me about the amazing community of LGBTQ writers that I feel so grateful to be part of. Growing up I was never a popular kid, friendship and community was always really hard for me, I felt alone most of the time. The older I’ve gotten, the more this has changed – finding queer literary community has been a huge part of that. Queer literary community has become such an important part of my life, the source of some of my closest friendships and connections. The Lammys are an amazing opportunity to get together with queer literary folks I don’t see often!

Amber Dawn getting silly before the awards!

photo by Efrain Gonzalez

A huge highlight of the night for me was getting to see folks that I admire receive awards for their work.  My friend the fantastic Michael Thomas Ford was a recipient of this year’s mid-career writing award and gave the sweetest speach about literary friendship he has with so many of us in the room that night – the sweet things he said about me had me in tears.

I’m so grateful to the queer literary community for writing the books that inspired me, that saved me, and encouraged me to write my own stories. All of the acceptance speeches were outstanding this year. It was incredible to see Allison Bechdel receive her Trustees Award for Excellence in Literature and hear her talk about the experience of receiving her first Lammy in 1991.

The absolute highlight of the night was getting to see Kate Bornstein accept the Pioneer Award.  I believe fully that my literary career is where it is today because of the friends and mentors I have made and met. When I was 19 I met Kate, she came to Portland Oregon to lead a week long writing workshop that culminated in the creation of a performance troupe/show called “The Language of Paradox”  Kate kicked my ass as a writer in ways that I really needed and she inspired me to make a big jump in my career from writing zines to writing books and helped me to harness anger that was running wild in my writing at that time.

I’m so glad that someone captured Kate’s incredible Lammy acceptance speech  on video because despite my attempts at live tweeting everything about the Lammy awards 140 characters just couldn’t capture the brilliance of everything she said— definitely my favorite part was this quote “Someone pioneer a queer community that doesn’t eat it’s own

The 2014 Lammys were so fabulous, I had incredible conversations with authors, publishers, and editors – I really can’t wait until next year! You can follow more about the Lammys on twitter at #Lammys –  I’m @SassafrasLowrey if we aren’t already friends over there please add me!:)