Last week my dear friend Riko came back to Boone and helped me start a project that is very dear to me and that I have been thinking about for a long time: Portraits of Queer Appalachia. I met Riko when I was fifteen and all the time I've known him he has been a damn mountain builder, he had to be, it ain't easy to be one of the only openly gay people at Watauga High School. Riko is one of the bravest, most intelligent, and kind humans I have ever known and loved, and I am so happy that he came to visit and gave me that nudge to begin this project. Soon I will be adding his story, in his own words, to go along with the photograph. That is how I would like to format this whole project.
So this is an open call to anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA and lives/has lived/grew up/ passed through Appalachia, I want to hear your stories. Submissions can include a story (fiction/non-fiction), poetry, a sentence, a drawing... anything that has to do with the queer experience in Appalachia, I am especially interested in themes of home. Submissions can be anonymous, but if you are willing to have your photo taken please tell me.
Submissions can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "queer appalachia".
The weeks you work so hard your bones protest and every part of you feels heavier and your spirit is absent from the automaton that is your physical body, come these windows of presence when that automaton body of yours recalls its heart, and your muscles have missed your lightness like a front tooth, and dammit something has got to give! There is warmth in good company, there is stillness in the evening hours of spring, and there are mountains to be climbed with your best friend (because you know your spine is made from the same rocks and dirt that built those ridges)... damn, something has got to give.
On the day that I drove the length of North Carolina in one day, William sat in the passenger seat and told me that the term for my favorite time of day was Crepuscular Light. On the evenings when the light falls so gentle and golden, I have am in love with the whole world.
Last week I finished the project I have been working on for the past year. I have had the incredible privilege of working with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture to interview and photograph the farmers in this book. Through working with Suzanne I learned about the determination, knowledge and patience it takes to have a farm in this region, and additionally, what the area gains from having a strong local farming community. Documenting the participating farmers, I bore witness to a love of for the land and the Blue Ridge Mountains that inspires me and gives me confidence in a sustainable future for our community and region. Join us to celebrate the book launch on May 17th at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum.
To view the online portion of the handbook for farming resources please visit http://handbook.brwia.org.