Rare Birds and Wild Creatures

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Rare Birds and Wild Creatures

artists to bond, linguistically and psychically, with queer heritage from the past…the nearest past.  And those are powerful feelings. Did curating that show influence your book?   

Quito: Elegy for a Queendom that Never Became was formed after I took these pictures, and that project was hugely influential on the ways I have evolved since then, particularly in my writing and intergenerational community work. The initial concept was inspired by a friend, Ezra Berkeley Nepon, who produced a play in 2009 called Between Two Worlds:Who Loved You Before You Were Mine that blew my mind apart, and was so beautiful. In Between Two Worlds, as Ezra puts it, "five deviant queers, their mythical beast secret identities, and all of their ghosts walk into a cabaret. The result is a show about yearning for ancestors, the empty spaces left by the first generation of AIDS deaths in fag/queer communities and the way the next generation is called to fill those spaces."

I have an unpublished piece called Ghosts that picks up Ezra's thread and directly muses about reincarnation and the connection between the souls that passed during the Plague and those of us queers who were born (or experienced soul-shaking, life-threatening trauma) during those same years, when all those angry souls were exiting the planet. I wrote it last year when I was sitting in my studio at the MacDowell Colony in the middle of the night, with hundreds of my images pinned to the walls all around me—surrounded by ghosts. The ghosts of our experiences, and how timeless they look in black and white, and then suddenly the connection just came to me...we could be them, again. I've never been able to shake it.

But all of this came after my time in the Visual AIDS archive, after looking at images from the 80s and 90s and finding myself drawn to the faces of people who could easily pass for my friends. Times change, language and styles shift with the culture around us, but there is just something about queerness that carries on. Not to sound like a queer essentialist or anything, I just…feel connected to those who came before. I walk in their footsteps, advance the paths they laid out for me, and I see a lot of us in those terms.

Patricia: Well, I wouldn't say you're