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Jul 312014

I’m working on a blog post that has more updates about books, projects and all the other exciting things happening right now, but first wanted to post a reminder about the Queer Book Diorama Show! I’ve been organizing this for the past six months or so with the fab Hugh Ryan and tomorrow is the opening reception!!!! Please RSVP on facebook – we hope to see you there!

Lost Boi!

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Jul 172014

More info to come in the next weeks and months, but I’m so excited to announce that my next novel Lost Boi which is a queer and leather retelling of Peter Pan will be released from the amazing Arsenal Pulp Press in 2015!!!  I couldn’t imagine a better home for this book, and can’t wait for it to be out in the world!

Jul 152014
Queer Memoir is a storytelling series that’s been running here in NYC for the last several years. It’ holds a special place in my heart and I’ve been lucky enough to get to guest curate at it a few times over the years on themes from pets to leather. In 2012 Kelli and I collaborated on a LEATHER themed Queer Memoir and it was so successful that still, two years later we still have so many fond memories of the night that we decided to do it again, and are joking that it might be something we do every couple of years! This years’s storytellers were:
Sassafras Lowrey (co-curating this event)
William Johnson
Ashley Young
Victor Tobar
Karen Taylor
Nayland Blake
Kelli Dunham (co-curating this event: Kelli is the co-founder with Genne Murphy of Queer Memoir)
There were really diverse stories shared, and yet themes came through – the primary one being family, and the way that we come together in various configurations of community, and create the families we crave.
I don’t share a lot of my writing here  anymore because most of what I’m working on has a future home in a book. But for Queer Memoir: LEATHER I wrote a little something new. After the event I was approached and asked by someone in the audience if there was somewhere online they could find the story, and I said I would post it here!
The Real Kinky Shit: 
 I found leather as a crusty punk in the back room of a queer youth center. Leather was beside the pool table, behind the couch and across from the pallet board stage. Leather was tied up in punk house closets turned dungeons.  We played hard. We played to bring ourselves back to feeling. We played to save each other when we didn’t know how to save ourselves.
We played hard. We played for keeps. Until we broke our toys, and went looking for someone to put us back together, Someone who we could bind ourselves to more tightly than cuffs, or rope, or collars, someone who wouldn’t leave. Until they were gone.
desperation is not attractive but when you are young, queer, alone, hungry for higharchy and belonging – sometimes, it’s what you have. I threw myself under the boots of any butch with enough balls to flag hunter green, with enough guts to call hym/her/hir self Daddy. The meaner the better. My type were jerks who couldn’t commit, who harbored fantasies of submission but were too self loathing and afraid of their own conflicting desires so they didn’t respect the bottoms under their boots. They said they wanted me, but their promises were all slip release knots never designed to hold. 
When I was 19 I had a Daddy who played rough. He stuffed a dirty sweat sock in my mouth and led me around the parking lot of our apartment complex on a leash while his friend laughed the neighbors gasped, and filed complaints with the management company
When I was 18, my first daddy, the one who brought me out,  told me that bois could take more than girls. He read his little girl picture books, he beat me hard. I searched for intimacy and used my body as currency to approximate it. 
Sure
I’ll be your fisting bottom
I don’tk now you, but you can fuck me
Choke me
Beat me
Have me
I’ll be your boy
I’ll call you Daddy
In that world the real kinky shit happened behind closed doors
The real kinky shit was competing to see who could take it harder, take it longer,
The real kinky shit was playing boundaryless, the real kinky shit chewed me up. The real kinky shit was intoxicating. The real kinky shit was unsustainable

Ze wasn’t my type- not cruel, not a jerk. Ze never had to forcibly take me down. Ze  broke me with birthday cake and ice cream stuffed animals and quarter machine toys, instead of fists and words and elaborate scenes. I’d sworn off dating because I’d sworn off daddies. I took sex and pain because in the aftercare, I got containment, enveloped, protected, wanted.

For my 21st birthday daddy told me to be ready to go at 5pm but wouldn’t say here we were heading. Ze blindfolded me and we got into he car. I felt the car exceleate as we got onto the freeway but had no idea where we were going. When daddy parked the car ze led me, still blindfolded by the hand down a street and into an artificially cooled building. I could hear the murmurings of crowds but Daddy led me through them. Finally, we stopped and ze removed my blindfold….
Happy Birthday Boy! Ze growled I my ear. I felt my face flush red. We were standing In a suburban Mall in front of the build a bear workshop! All those murmurings were busy shoppers who paid no attention to us. An hour later, I skipped back to the car with my very own teddy bear. we went home and daddy baked  me birthday cake, the first one anyone had ever fed me!
When I talk about my relationship to kink it’s so different now than what it was a decade ago, when I traded beat downs for bed times.  in my world, the real kinky shit is my little pony, the real kinky shit is birthday cake and coloring books. The real kinky shit are outings to the zoo, letters to Santa and flinging eggs the Easter bunny hid for me.  The real kinky shit is nervously confessing you would rather stay home and read picture books than go to a play party, and Daddy asking which story I’d like to look at.
Now the real kinky shit is not begging to hurt. Pain and sex were easy, it’s softness that’s hard, its tenderness that pushed me to the edges. I know how to live in brutality, I needed the right daddy to train me to be comfortable with sweetness and care taking
Daddy taught me that taking something serious didn’t mean it couldn’t be full of magic. We take our whimsy very seriously.

When I first came to leather my definition of the real kinky shit was fronting until I believed it. Beat me as hard as you want, I will take it. That will keep you from leaving.  He beat me bent over the kitchen counter on our punkhouse kitchen also used  as play space . I cried hare and quiet, got snot on the dishrag, my tears fell into the leftover tofu scramble.
It’s been 10 years since a Daddy claimed me. Now I scream loud, let the tears stream down my face, knuckles white, I’m flying. FLASH goes the camera and disneyeorld’s space mountain screaxhes onto the platform. Daddy smiles, takes my hand and helps me out of the ride. “Boy, I think you need some ice cream while we watch the fireworks….”
The real kinky shit

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!

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

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!:)

May 232014

I had the chance to sit down with the awesome folks at The Feminist Wire to talk about self care, politics, and queer writing!  Check it out!

 

click here to read the full interview!

Apr 242014

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so thrilled to be co-curating this fantastic show later this year! Check out the amazing poster that was designed by the one and only Cristy C. Road!!!!  There’s more info about the event on the tumblr including a list of books being made into dioramas – hint hint Roving Pack is among them!!! 

© 2014 Sassafras Lowrey Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha