Browse Author: Spectra Speaks

Spectra is an award-winning writer, media advocate, and new media consultant. Her work explores the relationship between culture, technology, and philanthropy, and her writing, gender, media, and the African diaspora. She's also the founder of QWOC Media Wire and community philanthropy programs officer at Africans in the Diaspora (AiD). Her mantra: "Love is my revolution."

Award-Winning African Artist Shishani Releases Video for New LGBT Equality Anthem, “Minority”

Shishani Namibia Lesbian Artist

“You’ve got rules telling me what to do
But is there anybody checkin’ up on you?”

Award-winning acoustic soul artist, Shishani, has just released the music video for her latest single titled, “Minority”, a catchy, upbeat, acoustic track that calls for freedom and equality for all people despite perceived differences.

Shishani got her big break when she performed at the 2011 Namibian Annual Music Awards in the capital city of Windhoek, where it’s still illegal to be gay. And though, she says, she’s made no real attempts to hide her sexuality, she hasn’t come out as an “out lesbian artist” till now.

“I wanted people to get to know my music,” she says, “Sexuality doesn’t matter. It’s like pasta — asking if you prefer spaghetti or macaroni. It just doesn’t matter… I’m an artist first, before being a gay artist.”

Born to a Namibian mother and a Belgian father, Shishani spent her early childhood in Windhoek, before her family relocated. Due to her mixed race ancestry, the curly-haired songstress is no stranger to discrimination, but is candid about enjoying a relatively liberal upbringing in the Netherlands, known for its liberal social policies, including legal protections of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) people.

“Being raised abroad gives you a certain freedom… It took some time before my parents were okay talking about stuff, but eventually we did. I was even able to live with my partner of four years…  But living in Namibia, it became so clear to me how much more people are discriminated against–and for a variety of different reasons, like their ethnicity and sexuality.”

Homosexuality is illegal in a number of countries in Africa, and Namibia is no exception. Even though Namibia has been independent for over 20 years, and its constitution views all people equal under the rights of the law, punitive colonial laws against sodomy (though not enforced) have remained. Thus, LGBTI people risk harassment  and violence due to a strong culture of stigma in part reignited by religious leaders and government officials.

In 2001, past President Najoma’s called for “anyone caught practicing homosexuality to be arrested, jailed, and deported”. And, just over a year ago, Namibia’s first gay pageant winner, Mr. Gay Namibia, was beaten and robbed shortly after securing his title.

But Shishani, who upon her return in 2011, found a safe haven in Windhoek’s art performance communities, is optimistic that the current climate for gays will improve. She recently became an honorary member of the board of Out Right Namibia (ORN), a human rights advocacy organization that aims to address widespread homophobia in the country, and is eager to continue evolving as an artist, while using her platform as a musician to advocate for freedom and equality.

Shishani Singer SongwriterSince her breakout two years ago, Shishani has released indie tracks such as “Raining Words”, an acoustic ballad about a new relationship, “Clean Country”, a soulful, melodious call to action to raise awareness about climate change, and–inspired by Alicia Keys’ chart-topping tribute to New York–“Windhoek”, a song that celebrates the beauty of her hometown.

As a student of cultural anthropology and self-identified activist, it’s no surprise that her music has been described as a fusion of sounds from such socio-political music icons as Tracy Chapman, Bob Marley, and Nneka. “Minority” is the first single through which seeks to address the issue of same-sex love.

Alluding to the potential controversy of her new single, Shishani says, “Two years ago, I was really just trying to get my face out there…. When I returned to Namibia, I started booking my own gigs, performing solo, writing new songs. When I was invited to perform at the Namibian Music Awards, I was afraid to perform “Minority”  because people didn’t know who I was yet. But to make a statement, you have to be strong.”

As an African musician who identifies as being a part of the LGBTI community, the lyrics of “Minority” no doubt challenge the infamous meme “Homosexuality is unAfrican.” But, Shishan insists, her song is about much more than being gay.

“In Namibia, it also makes a difference what ethnicity you are. “Minority” argues for equal rights for all people regardless of their cultural backgrounds, economic status, sexuality, religion,” she says, “There is so much systemic discrimination against people, for so many reasons.”

The release of “Minority” is timely; January is the month in which outspoken Ugandan LGBT activist, David Kato was bludgeoned to death in an anti-gay attack three years ago, sparking an outcry from fellow African human rights activists. January is also the month in which people in the U.S.–perhaps even all over the world–celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a powerful civil rights leader and icon. His call for freedom and equality of all people has been taken up by activists all over the world, including Shishani, whose lyrics echo his principles of love and unity.

“Homophobia all over the world comes from the same place; colonialism, apartheid, racial segregation. All our struggles are connected.”

When asked about being a visible lesbian African artist, especially in light of the hardships experienced by LGBTI people in countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, she says:

“My music is becoming more popular in Namibia. I’ve been working hard and trying to make my mark, so I feel stronger, now. I may lose some fans, but it’s okay. So many others have it way worse than me. So many others activists are risking much more. It is an honor to be viewed as a role model. So, if I can contribute to the movement through my music, I’m happy to, and I will.”

Check out the video of Shishani’s new single, “Minority” below. To learn more about Shishani, visit her website at


When Doing Good Goes Wrong: One Woman’s Story about White Saviorism in Africa

Dear Readers–

I’m writing to ask you all a huge favor. But first, bear with me. I have to first tell you a story.

Meet Lindiwe

During my 6-month Africans for Africa project last year, I met Lindiwe (not a real name), a retired, 60-something year old African woman. Lindiwe had been running an orphanage out of her own home for the past 10 years. The government had agreed to offer her some money every month to care for up to two children, but the amount was no where near what she needed to care for the twenty-seven she’d taken in.

You see, most of their parents had passed away from HIV/AIDS, or abandoned them when they moved away to find more work. Lindiwe could barely afford to replace their tattered clothes, let alone their school uniforms. If not for the charity of a wholesale grocery store that donated canned goods each month, Lindiwe wouldn’t have been able to feed the orphans in her care at all.

But, one day, a young white American couple (that had been backpacking through the region) arrived at her doorstep, and offered to help Lindiwe raise money from abroad. The plan was to set up a non-profit in the U.S. to serve as a fiscal sponsor (i.e. serve as an umbrella organization) to the orphanage, which would enable them to collect tax-deductible donations from their network back in the states. Lindiwe couldn’t believe her luck. And, perhaps she shouldn’t have.

There are Very Wrong Ways to Do Good

Elated, Lindiwe gave the young white Americans copies of her non-profit’s official documents, which, as planned, the couple used to validate their US-based non-profit as an umbrella org for the project. Their website went up, along with photos of the orphans they’d met on their backpacking trip, and then the tax-deductible donations began to come in.

Initially, the couple sent Lindiwe money to pay for school uniforms–a mere two hundred dollars–and promised more would follow as they continued to spread the word. Thus, as they announced fundraisers — a few even hosted by celebrities — on their website, Lindiwe expected the relief she’d been promised would arrive soon. But it’s been three years since then, and not much has changed.

This past year alone, the U.S. organization has raised over $30,000. But, since their launch there years ago, only $3000 has made it to Lindiwe’s orphanage, and this is after Lindiwe has had to keep calling, emailing, and begging to receive the funds owed to the local orphanage to cover basic necessities: food, medicine, school uniforms.

Unequal Power Unmasked

On top of the U.S. non-profit’s unethical hoarding of funds (while the founders continued to post pictures of children’s faces and receive donations, allegedly in support of an orphanage they have only ever visited once), the once sweet and eager American couple has become short, rude, and condescending to Lindiwe; they constantly tell her that she should be grateful, insist that they have a right to spend the money from fundraisers in a manner that they please, and repeatedly go over Lindiwe’s head to forge “partnerships” with other organizations using (Lindiwe’s organization’s name) without consulting her.

FYI Lindiwe has a masters degree in social work. Part of her love for caring for children stems from her experience as a certified social worker for over 30 years. But, because Lindiwe is retired, poor, and her orphanage is situated in a very remote, rural area, she is unable to do anything about the U.S. based organization exploiting her. In fact, she’s been ripped off in  similar ways at least twice. And sadly, Lindiwe’s case is not unique; I could tell you at least a dozen more stories like this.

As this story (and countless others) demonstrate, there exists very little to no accountability when it comes to the west’s relationship with African NGOs. Incidentally, even African LGBTI organizations–many of whom I support myself–have reported being taken advantage of by larger, more prestigious (I won’t name names) LGBT organizations in the U.S. claiming to be supporting their efforts.

So, while there are many fiscal sponsorships similar to the one Lindiwe entered into that do work — e.g. in which the umbrella non-profit takes direction from the local African organization on the ground, is transparent about finances, etc–the unequal power held by the west while doing philanthropy in Africa often leads to unjust, unethical, and exploitative situations. This needs to stop. So, luckily for people like us, there are a number of African-led initiatives seeking to address this.

Meet Africans in the Diaspora (AiD)

I recently joined the founding team of Africans in the Diaspora (AiD), a new organization that seeks to correct the imbalance of power in philanthropy as it impacts Africa’s development. In addition to being a fundraising platform for African-led ventures, through which donors all around the world can contribute to various causes, AiD will vet every listed African organization so that donors can feel secure about donating.

But more importantly, AiD is currently developing a rubric for rating western fiscal sponsors who want to support African projects. That way, before the next KONY video happens, people can double check to make sure that the campaign will truly be supporting work that’s needed and led by Africans themselves–critical, community-led projects like Lindiwe’s that are already making a difference, because there are hundreds just like them all over Africa.

Since AiD launched its fundraising campaign in December 2012, an anonymous donor has offered to give us a grant of $10,000 provided that we can prove that there are enough people who support “Africans for Africa” that would make donations via our platform. Towards our goal of $30,000, we have raised over $28,700 from over 150 contributors, with just 2 more days to go. This is where you come in. With less than $1300 to hitting our goal, all we need is a little push.

Support Africans for Africa

I am asking you to give any amount you can — $10, $20, $25, $50, or more to help us hit our goal because AiD will CHANGE the way westerners approach philanthropy in Africa. This is not some wistful aspiration. This is not some dream. This is a fact. By simply existing as an African-led organization whose sole purpose is to facilitate ethical giving on the continent, anyone who claims to be saving Africa doing good work in Africa will be considered alongside a certain set of standards — our set of standards. And, this will be good for everyone: individuals, organizations, and foundations alike.

So stand with me, and Africans in the Diaspora, as we prepare to level the playing field. Invest in Africa’s progress. Invest in community-driven solutions. Invest in the idea that doing good can be done right..

I Have a Dream: Imagine Martin Luther King, Jr. As Weak

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday.

Of all the civil rights leaders I’ve been fortunate to learn about, he is one of my favorites; his message about the power of Love and Forgiveness has always deeply touched me. To have been as courageous as he was to preach forgiveness and nonviolence against white people, especially in that period when racism was a brutal, physical, reality,  and still persist in his benevolence… I can’t even imagine it. And, sometimes, admittedly, I don’t.

I have a dream: Imagine Martin Luther King, Jr. as human.

Imagine Martin Luther King as Human

Rather than the prophetic force he’s been eulogized to be, imagine Martin Luther King Jr. as just another man walking down the street, or sitting at a bus stop looking down at his knees, pensive… wondering whether or not he was doing the right thing.

Imagine him in his broken moments — frustrated, angry, irritable, and unleaderly, and pray he had someone to love him when he was weak. Imagine him in solitude, right before he met with his council, willing himself to breathe… willing himself to be what he needed to be to inspire *others* to keep going. Then pray that he had someone to lean on.

When we think of our heroes, our idols, we often think about how much they touched *us*, how much they gave *us*. We rarely think about what they reaped in return–what it was like, for instance, to step off the podium after delivering one of the most riveting speeches ever given: I Have a Dream.

What nightmare did this dream, so powerful, so vast, and so specific, come from? When Dr. King was tired from the constant wrongs against his people, who helped raise him up again? Who heard his confessions, then? What would he have given to be seen, plainly, as Martin?

I believe that the beacon of light heroes often become in our eyes is strenuous, draining, and often enough, misleading–a double-edged sword. I believe our thirst for inspiration robs *heroes* of the right to be as imperfect as they are– as we all are, and consequently, the right to believe that we, too, are powerful. For instance, do we truly marvel at how great Martin Luther King Jr. was, or do we, as children right before bedtime, let our thoughts entertain the fantastical nature of heroes as permission to go back to sleep?

By making a *choice* to constantly describe the brave acts of everyday people as “divine”, aren’t we simply absolving ourselves of the responsibility to do what is right, in real time? In our eagerness to edify, we rob ourselves of the right to dream as heroes dreamed, to lead as prophets led… for how can any of us live up to such a hero as Martin Luther King? How can any of us be as glorious, shine a light as luminous as he did?

This is why we must imagine heroes as human, and we must imagine them, too, as weak. We must see ourselves in their light; walk the paths they walked, and imagine the human sacrifices they must have made, to discover that we, in our mundane capacities, make similar sacrifices every day.

So today, I honor the memory of a man I never knew, whose words–perhaps written from dark, lonely places I struggle with too–inspire me to choose Love as my Revolution. I celebrate the memory of Martin Luther King Jr., by imagining him as a man who wasn’t so tall, that I may follow in his footsteps, walk that Divine path of Love, which, I believe, is human after all.

Open Letter to Africans for Africa Supporters: Love Is My Revolution

Dear Love Warriors,

I’ve been back in the states for almost two weeks, struggling with what words to send you in closing of my Africans for Africa new media training project. I’ve started about a dozen posts and letters, and have scrapped them each time. I’ve been crouched under the weight of so many emotions from this trip: gratitude, humility, pride, reflection, exhaustion, relief.

So where do I begin?

No words can amply describe what my #africansforafrica project has meant to me; no report could show you just how much *your* support of my –one single person’s — work has impacted so many others. But here’s an attempt to give you at least a glimpse:

A group of South African lesbians, who were virtually invisible online are *thriving* after my visioning, organizational development, and content strategy session with them. As a direct result of one of our discussions, they even changed their name to better reflect their philosophy and target audience. I’m in awe of their hard work and dedication to create a space for African Lesbians. Check out HOLAA (Hub of Lesbian Loving Action Africa) at

Sister Namibia (one of three Namibian feminist organizations I worked with), whose challenge was nurturing a wider audience for their magazine is now in the process of going digital and sharing some of their print articles online in order to engage an international audience. Check out Sister Namibia on Facebook:

A gender justice activist and educator in Jamaica, who’s been following my #africansforafrica updates, reached out to me to help plan a media and gender conference for women of African descent, a project that will no doubt reach hundreds more women’s rights individuals and organizations, but also create a visible pan-africanist network of social media experts.

In addition to a number of small towns and villages, I visited 7 major African cities — Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg, Windhoek, Gaborone, and Accra; I trained over 60 different organizations working on a wide range of issues, including women’s rights, LGBT advocacy, youth empowerment, media and the arts for civic engagement; and, I trained ~400 activists, artists, and non-profit professionals in new media communications, including branding, blogging, and online fundraising.

On top of all this, I’ve spoken at schools, colleges, youth programs, and community events about the empowerment of marginalized communities via new media, afrofeminism — my spiritual approach to social justice,  the ethics of philanthropy, and, of course, the power of storytelling, re-writing history in our own voices.

Despite all of this, I’ve been waking up every day since my return, wondering how the hell this happened, and then recalling, almost instantly, that I didn’t do this; we did. In fact, you did. You helped me prove to the world that anything is possible with Love on your side, with Community on your side. And, I am humbled to have discovered, this year, that I’d earned both.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you all so much, for giving me one of the best years of my life, for trusting me with our collective mission to empower communities through media, for your continued support and solidarity of my work, and of course, for your Love.

Happy New Year.


ps — some of you should have already received postcards, T-shirts arriving in January! :)

Africans for Africa -- Spectra Speaks

10 Books, Films, and Music by Queer People of Color That Would Make Excellent Gifts

Shopping is Personal is Political

For Him For Her... Bullshit

It’s the last (shopping) weekend before Christmas. But if you’re anything like me, braving large, busy malls filled with mainstream goodies fueling the hyper-consumerism evident just one week before Christmas isn’t your cup of tea. Online shopping, despite the lure of its crowd-less aisles, fancy pop-ups, and steep discounts hasn’t proven to be that much better.

Constantly having to decide between clicking on “Gifts for Him’ and “Gifts for Her” irks the LGBT activist in me. Then there’s the constant temptation to forgo spending your hard earned money on holiday shopping (for family members who aren’t as supportive as they should be) altogether and getting yourself, instead, that heavily discounted Xbox with Dance Revolution bundle, flashing obtrusively on the top right corner of your screen just as you’re about to check out… Wait, I’m sorry, this isn’t about me. I digress.

*deletes Xbox Dance Revolution package from shopping cart… (for now)*

Luckily, I don’t have to deal with (most of) the Christmas shopping madness this holiday season. As per  my last post, in an attempt to facilitate important conversations with friends and family about my sexuality (so that I can make it through dinner without bursting into tears… or flames), I plan on giving the gift of media created by queer people of color. Luckily, over the past few years, there’s been a steady release of media that reflects the lives of LGBTI people with complex racial and ethnic identities while navigating a diverse landscape of cultural and religious beliefs.

A List of Books, Films, and Music by Queer People of Color

Any item(s) from the list below would make great holiday gifts to family, friends, or even to yourself. After all, getting our loved ones to accept us whole is as much of an ongoing process as it is learning to celebrate who we are for ourselves, so why not nourish your spirit this holiday season too?

Note: Because my experience is trans-continental, I’ve prioritized media created by LGBT people of color with various cultural, ethnic, racial, and national contexts. Also, if I’ve mis-labeled or mis-represented any of the media producers’ identities below, PLEASE let me know as soon as possible (with source) so I can update! 


Pariah Movie

Written and Directed by African-American lesbian, Dee Rees.

Themes: African-American, Family, Coming Out, Religion, Gender Identity.

This isn’t just another queer “coming out” movie. The main character, Alike, already knows that she likes girls; it’s coming out to her parents while exploring her gender identity (i.e. more masculine/feminine) that makes this one of my favorite films of all time. This coming of age film is packed with moments familiar enough to resonate with even the most conservative: first crushes (and first kisses), father-daughter bonding, mother-daughter loathing, and siblings who remain annoying as hell but will always be there for you. I loved Pariah so much that I wrote about it twice: My Afrofeminist Review and Coming Out as a Nigerian Boi.

Great Gift For: Everyone, really.

Saving Face Movie

Written and Directed by Chinese-American Lesbian, Alice Wu

Themes: Chinese Culture, Family, Career, Marriage

If I had to put my film picks in order, this would really be at the top. Saving Face is a drama-comedy about two young adults, who are driven by their careers and commitment to family, and thus, find love a tad inconvenient. Saving Face strikes the perfect balance between heart-warming and hilarious. I recommended it to my sister when I first came out and it helped her understand my sexuality, not through the white, class privileged narratives of the L Word, but in the context of our culture. Indeed, part of the film is in Mandarin as the lead characters search for acceptance in a small community in Chinatown, New York.

Great Gift For: Siblings


Circumstance Movie

Written and Directed by Iranian-American, Maryam Keshavarz

Themes: Iranian, Family, Religion, Government, Censorship

Two young women find love and attempt to escape their -er – circumstance of family and politics. What I love about Circumstance is that the lesbian relationship, though central, isn’t the only theme (or issue the women have to worry about) in the movie. Hmm, feels like real life, when religious dogma, traditional parents, and an oppressive government regime are equal (if not greater) thorns on the sides of LGBT  people in non-western countries–a reality that quite often goes above my white gay American friends’ heads. In any case, there’s an (awesome) sex scene that may be awkward to watch with parents (so you may wanna go grab some leftovers during that bit).

Great Gift For: American LGBT friends.



Gun Hill Road Movie

Written and Directed by Latino straight ally Rashaad Ernesto Green

A Latino man is released from prison only to find that his son is in the process of saving up for gender reassignment surgery (i.e. transitioning from living as a man to living as a woman). To cuta a long story short, drama happens, followed by a stereotypical (yet believable) display of machismo, such as forced attendance at baseball games, and an awkward scene with a prostitute. But hey, that’s apparently how to be a “man’s man” (forget not doing things that land you in prison so that you’re around to love your wife and raise your children — that’s for sissies). There’ll be no shortage of issues to discuss after viewing Gun Hill Road, including the trappings of masculinity, femininity, culture as a barrier to individual expression, and really good acting. Says, the LA Times: “… the quietly commanding turn by newcomer Santana — whose outward embrace of an already well-internalized transformation leaps off the screen with equal parts joy, melancholia and bravery — is a standout.”

Great Gift For: Dads, Uncles, All the People with Testosterone in Your Family



Other Side of Paradise

By Chinese-Jamaican lesbian, Stacey Ann Chin 

Themes: Jamaica, Adoption, Family, Womanhood

The first time I saw Stacey Ann Chin speak, I thought to myself, “Damn, I need to be louder!” She’s known for thunderous performances, her constant swearing, her political poetry that takes no prisoners. But, if you’re a writer, you know how much it takes to bleed the way Stacey Ann does anytime she speaks. And when she writes… goodness, there are no words. Her memoir is a glimpse into the circumstances that birthed the beast: growing up in Jamaica, being raised by her grandmother, and the thrill, pain, hilarity, and confusion that comes with discovering womanhood. A must-read.

Great Gift For: Poets and Writers


Memory MamboMEMORY MAMBO (Book)
By Cuban immigrant lesbian, Achy Obejas

Themes: Cuba, Immigration, Culture, Family, Gender

So, I’m cheating here; I really want to suggest two of Achy Obejas books. The first, “We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?”, is a rich, diverse collection of short stories about a Cuban family’s journey from their homeland to the beautiful and broken promises of the United States, all the while grappling with new ideas of culture, gender, and sexuality. Her second, Memory Mambo, is a full-length novel centered around a familiar, yet nuanced immigrant narrative; Janua, a 24-year old Latina lesbian, searches for an anchor in the terrain of an new country (with a band of crazy cousins–blood and adopted–who keep dragging her into trouble).

Great Gift For: Cousins, Extended Family


by African-American Lesbian Poet, Writer, and Activist, Audre Lorde

Themes: New York, the 50’s, Working Class Black Women, Class

From GoodReads: “Audre Lorde recounts the first half of her life in an amazing blend of her own poetry, popular songs, journal entries, and memories that are startling in their exactness and fairness. Her ability to recount her extreme loneliness and desire for companionship at being Black in gay scenes, gay in Black crowds and female and working class in the U.S. is a testament to her desire to create bridges…” I started reading this book and had to stop because I began resenting my work for constantly interrupting my love affair with this breathtaking novel about living “life at the intersections”, a subject for which Audre Lorde is well-known. Zami is moving, powerful, and filled with a tender, vulnerable love for humanity, despite its shortcomings.

Great gift for: Black women (who experienced the 50s in the US e.g. older Aunties?), feminists of all backgrounds


Ash Malindo LoASH (Book)
Written by lesbian Chinese-American immigrant, Malindo Lo

Themes: Fairy Tales, Cinderella, Love and Romance, Self-Determination

Who doesn’t love fairy tales? This re-telling of Cinderella’s love story is appropriate for ages 8 and up, says, making it the perfect gift for young cousins, siblings, and adult friends alike. Apparently, rather than fall for the prince who rescues her from an enchanted slumber, Cinderella starts a love affair with the woman her evil queen mother sends to kill her. I haven’t read it myself, but after reading glowing reviews I decided to gift myself the Kindle version. Incidentally, an accompanying book, “Huntress”, about Cinderella’s love interest, was published shortly afterwards. And, the author just released the first book in her new young adult sci-fi series. Juicy. Visit to learn more.

Great gift for: Young Children, Parents


OI AM (Music)
Jazz composition by gay Guyanese-American, Omar Thomas Large Jazz Ensemble

I grew up listening to Jazz, from the smooth of Miles Davis to the soul of Anita Baker to the afrobeat of Fela Kuti–my father’s influence. So when I left home, and became separated from my father, a part of me distanced myself from his favorite music as well… until I met Omar. I fell in love with Omar’s love for classic R&B, soul, jazz, and his talent for bringing those genres together in his compositions, which feel old school enough take you on a walk down memory lane, and new school enough to warrant Ne-Yo’s replacement as the official baby-making musician of the 2000s. “I Am” will be released on January 15th, but you can pre-order now on iTunes. I’ll be getting two copies — one for me, and one for my father, as a reminder that even though we are now worlds apart, our struggles and our love for each other remains, through heart, through life, and through music.

Great gift for: Dads


by queer Latina, Vicci Martinez

I don’t often have time to watch TV, but I remember when I heard that a queer Latina musician was rocking out on The Voice, a show similar to American Idol, in which contestants compete to be named “The Voice” of America; I looked her up on YouTube immediately and was blown away by the power of her voice (from a relatively small person!). She’s been quoted as saying, “I don’t look the way I sound”, which, though I get what she means, isn’t quite true; she’s absolutely beautiful in her gender non-conformity, and her voice, a reverb of yearning to live beyond measure, beyond bounds. The acoustic version of her new single, “Come Along” is a tantrum of emotions, familiar to anyone who may still be wondering how they survived being a teenager, and — as a member of the LBGT community — how to continue singing for freedom in a world  where your kind of love is seen as an act of rebellion.

Great gift for: Angst-Filled Teenager


Discuss! What do you think? Would you consider gifting any of these items to yourself, friends, or family? As an ally, have you read / watched / listened to any of the media above? What did that do for your understanding? Also, I’d love to open up this space for recommendations. Which books, films, and/or music or poetry albums would be great additions to this list?

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