Where would we be without our good Judies? As the Out team embarked on a mission of expanding visuals, concepts, and narratives to our queerest limits this year, we had a little (or a lot of) help from some friends who are movers and shakers in their own right. Let’s hear it for some of our favorite contributors who earned a spot in this year’s Out100.
ALOK, writer and performance artist
Whether onstage or off, ALOK isn’t afraid to shatter expectations about their various identities and how they should exist in the world. “I hope that gender nonconforming people get our due. So often our ideas, our vocabulary, our aesthetics make it into the room, but rarely — if ever — do our bodies,” they say. “We are still regarded as memes or props, not models or leaders. I want to see visible gender nonconformity — and especially transfemininity — celebrated, uplifted, and amplified.”
In recent years, ALOK has stepped out on their own, maintaining a commitment to no-holds-barred critiques of systems of oppression that they refined as one-half of the art and activist collaboration DarkMatter. Viewing every medium as an opportunity for gender intervention, ALOK also unveiled their third gender-neutral fashion collection earlier this year, giving the world another glimpse of what is possible when pure, authentic expression is centered.
It’s no wonder, then, that they ended up in front of our cover star Sam Smith about a year ago when the artist wanted to discuss their own journey with gender. It was partially ALOK who helped Smith understand a new world of possibilities. ”What I understand queerness to be is reclamatory power,” they say. “It’s insistence on saying these things that we have been taught are impossible are not.”
Tourmaline, artist and filmmaker
No one carries the power of a mononym quite like Tourmaline. The filmmaking virtuoso has been grinding since she graced our first Women and Nonbinary Femmes Issue cover with Stonewall OG Miss Major Griffin-Gracy back in March. Her short film, Salacia, became a part of the Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection after its inclusion in an exhibit honoring the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. With her eyes toward 2020, Tourmaline is set to release a 25-minute short, Mary of Ill Fame, starring Rowin Amone as Mary Jones, a Black trans sex worker who was put on trial for stealing the wallet of one of her clients in 1836. “It’s got some magical realism and some science fiction. It’s telling the story through Black fairytales and Black folklore,” she says.
Tourmaline is staying in her bag, creating an emergent Black trans film canon that uncovers the iconic figures of today and yesteryear. “My filmmaking has always been community-based, working with people I came up with in different kinds of organizing,” she says. “It’s a spiritual practice, so a lot of it is love letters to the ancestors.”
JP Brammer, writer, author, and ¡Hola Papi! advice columnist
Each month, our bravest readers share their deepest concerns and insecurities with JP Brammer, and he offers his sagest advice on everything from dating to health to confidence. As our resident guidance-counselor-turned-guardian-angel, the self-proclaimed “Picante Carrie Bradshaw” continues to give us the warm nudge we need to go after our dreams and silence the drama. In 2020, he will translate his Twitter-iconic signature voice into a memoir, Hola Papi: How to Come Out to Your Boyfriend in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons in Love, Race, and Sexuality. “The column is kind of my baby. I see it as a space for LGBTQ people to engage with our personal and community problems, but also to laugh and be intimate,” he says. “It’s the thing I’m proudest of in my career, so naturally getting to write the book was great news.”
Brammer is leaning into his growing platform and wants his community to continue to rise up and tell more stories, whether profound or mundane. “Personal writing doesn’t mean cheap writing or self-obsessed writing,” he says. “There’s a lot of rich material in the fabric of our daily lives. I think it’s fun to look for the parts of ourselves that could hold something, be it comedy or wisdom, for someone else.”
Kimberly Drew, writer, independent curator, and activist
For Out’s Art issue, only Kimberly Drew (instafamously known as @museummammy) could have so clearly seen the connective tissue between queer art world contemporaries like Zanele Muholi, Devin N. Morris, and Raul de Nieves. After leaving her social media management post at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year, she set out to create her own lane, straddling the art and fashion worlds with her unique intersectional perspective. “I’m a translator in the space of both of those industries,” she says with confidence. “I think about how to translate my experiences to broad audiences and what’s going on on a material level in these industries.”
These days, Drew is an unapologetic “Jill of All Trades,” romping down runways for Chromat, Collina Strada, and Kate Spade last New York Fashion Week, writing cover stories on juggernauts like Lupita Nyong’o for Vanity Fair, and publishing two books, including the forthcoming introspective Black culture anthology Black Futures with friend and fellow media savant Jenna Wortham. With her eyes to the future, she sees her role as advocating for more inclusion for marginalized folks. “My biggest hope is that there is more opportunity, especially for trans and nonbinary people, to move from moodboards to board meetings,” she says.
A version of this piece was originally published in this year’s Out100 issue, out on newstands 12/10. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, or Nook beginning 11/21.