Velvetpark's Official Top 25 Significant Queer Women of 2012

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Velvetpark's Official Top 25 Significant Queer Women of 2012

Our gaydar registered Tig Notaro the moment she was the object of Sarah Silverman’s sapphic fantasies on The Sarah Silverman Program in the recurring role of Officer Tig beginning in 2007. Well respected on the comedy circuit for her deadpan humor (and her impressions of inanimate objects), Tig’s career picked up steam with her popular Earwolf podcast, Professor Blastoff (with her friends Kyle Dunnigan, and David Huntsberger), and her iTunes best selling debut comic album, Good One, in 2011 (which is still ranking at the top over a year past its release). 2012 was an extraordinary year for Tig, aka Mathilde O'Callaghan Notaro: re-living her trials and tribulations—including surviving a deadly virus, a break-up, the untimely death of her mother, breast cancer, and a double mastectomy—in her now legendary stand-up routine, “Live,” at the Largo this past August, Tig’s career has skyrocketed. "In 27 years doing this, I’ve seen a handful of truly great, masterful standup sets. One was Tig Notaro last night at Largo,” was Louis CK’s response to her performance. Now Tig is all over the place: she is a writer for Amy Schumer’s forthcoming Comedy Central show; she is working on a memoir-esque collection of essays, a film called Clown Service and another called Walk of Shame, and additional tv and film appearances.

“A Queer and Pleasant Danger”—Kate Bornstein
, Writer, Activist

Kate Bornstein has always been a “gender outlaw,” but in the course of 2012 she’s solidified herself as a “queer and pleasant danger” within our LGBTQ community. With the publication of her fantastic memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She Is Today, Bornstein unveils both the scandalous past of the Church of Scientology (she was Hubbard’s “first mate”), from which she was excommunicated as a “subversive,” and her challenges within an identity-centric LGBTQ community (“I call myself trans, or tranny—and the latter angers a small but vocal group of transsexual women who see tranny as the equivalent of kike to a Jew. Right, I’m a Jew...”). Bornstein is also a tireless supporter of her queer community, and is always willing to dedicate her time and her energy to the collective LGBTQ cause. Currently being filmed as a documentary of the same name, directed by Sam Feder, this book will transform textual Kate into real-time Kate—and we can’t wait.

“Defying Gravity”—Elizabeth Streb, Choreographer, Action Mechanic, MacArthur Genius

If we didn’t adhere to the strict “no duplicate” policy for our annual "Top 25," Elizabeth Streb would have a permanent place on every list. It is one thing to be outrageously talented; it’s entirely another to produce the highest level of work month after month, year after year—that’s what a master does. And Streb’s magnificent career is now into her fourth decade. She began as modern dancer but found that her interest in the body was more fundamental; she was interested defying gravity. She had dreams of making the body fly, and has dedicated her mind to the physics of this aspiration. These days you can find Streb walking a high-wire, or strapped outside of a glass building. Most of her work now is in choreographing her “action” performers who range in age from their early 20’s to their mid 30’s—athletes working at the peak of their abilities. Streb earned a place on our list this year because of her unbelievable series of death defying works as a part of London 2012 Olympic Festival, where she and her performers bungee-jumped from, walked on, balanced under, and dangled off various London monuments. Are we kidding? No.

“House of A”—A. Lee, Fashion Designer

From “The Cut” to WWD (Women’s Wear Daily), this year “lesbian chic” was on the tongues of the fashion savant. Underlying this mainstream cultural trend in fashion is the lesbian subculture that has refined itself over the past couple of years. The concept of “lesbian chic” is androgyny meets haute couture, and A. Lee, in collaboration with her sister Vee, has refined this stylistic meeting in her line Androgynous Fashion, which introduced its first designs earlier this year. (The debut collection is currently in its final stages.) The tailoring and cuts are divine, and divinely inspired by the androgynous body: “The cuts are not clothing for women inspired by menswear....No form-fitting, no tapering at the waist and hips, and no darts where the breasts are. Simply elegant, classy, clean-cut menswear made to fit women.” For making our bodies feel at home, we celebrate A. Lee for her immaculate conception. Her brand’s motto “It takes bravery to be genuine” could not be more fitting.

“Russian Riot Grrrl”—Yekaterina Samutsevich, Feminist Musician, Performance Artist

Pussy Riot raged in a church, landed themselves in prison, and captivated the world this year. One of the three members of this feminist punk collective to land themselves behind bars is Yekaterina (Katya) Samutsevich, age 29, the only queer member of the trio who was also the only member to be released from prison early (because she didn’t participate in the “aggressive” moments of the now infamous cathedral performance). That said, Samutsevich is perhaps the person with the most reason to protest the Orthodox Church's relationship with the Kremlin—as the only out member of the band she has more to lose in Putin's deeply discriminatory Anti-Gay Russia. An art-loving computer programmer, Samutsevich’s opening and closing statements, alongside those of her jailed compatriots, have become feminist manifestos that have since been performed in NYC by queerlebrities like Mx. Justin Vivian Bond and K8 Hardy and are now in print courtesy of the Feminist Press. For reviving the global feminist cause in the name of punk and of art, and for giving a LGBT-face to this feminism, we honor Samutsevich on behalf of riot grrrls everywhere.

“Supreme Challenger”—Edie Windsor, Marriage Equality Advocate

In 1975 Edie's fiancee of 8 years, Thea Spyer, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. That same year, Edie started a second career as a full-time gay rights activist. She has received many awards for her decades of work, particularly with SAGE. In 2007, Thea's doctor told her she had only one year left to live; she then proposed to Edie a second time and they were married in Toronto. (Their story is detailed in the 2009 documentary Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement.) However, when Thea died, Edie paid more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes because DOMA prevented recognition of their marriage in the United States. So Edie sued. She won her case, Windsor vs. the United States of America, in 2011 and was awarded a tax refund. The decision was upheld in appeals court and the case was sent to the Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear it next spring. For political reasons, Edie is likely to win again and, effectively, will strike down DOMA as unconstitutional. Perhaps more importantly her story breathed new life into the legal battle for gay marriage rights. Edie's response? "The truth is, I never expected any less from my country."

“Unwavering Focus”—Zanele Muholi
, Artist, Filmmaker

Comments [3]

Del's picture

Re: On NOT being a (queer) woman OR a (gendernon-conforming) MAN

Hey! Thanks for including me in your list and the nice things you said about my work. Just wanted to mention though that although I am what could be called gender non-conforming and queer I am not a MAN or a WOMAN but INTERSEX! That means my anatomical body does not conform to standard definitions of male and female, not hormonally, not chromosomally or in what you see (at least when I'm naked!) 

Thanks for the space to say so! HERMLOVE XX XO Del LaGrace Volcano

Marcie Bianco's picture

We think you're pretty

We think you're pretty amazing, Del. While the overarching list is constructed under the rubric of "queer women," our definition of this already-fraught, already-complex, identity is broad to try to encapsulate all of its complexity and fraught-ness. I'm super thankful to you for this clarification and for your willingness to be included on this list -- the intersex community is (at least I'd like to think) very much a part of our larger community.

Grace Moon's picture

*Editors note*

In case anyone misses this in the intro: "As with past years our criteria is to honor female-identified or non-gender-binary persons"

Since our title would get quite long if we tried to identify all identifiers we've kept it at "...Singnificant Queer Women..."

we understand not everyone identifies as "women" on this list. I hope that clarifies.

xo Moon

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