Velvetpark's Top 25 Queer Women of 2015
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Need an award-winning, Jewish stilt dancer-puppeteer-theatre actor-circus performer-activist-choreographer in your life? Then Jenny Romaine is your gal. Through her various works with the Bread and Puppet Theater, Janie Geiser and Co., Ninth Street Theater, Circus Amok, and Great Small Works, Romaine has done all of the above... and then some. The Memoirs of Glückel of Hamelin, Do Chinese Postmen Ring Twice Too?, and The Suicide are a few of the projects she's been involved in. As an activist, Romaine has worked with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, the Lesbian Avengers, Milk Not Jails, Klezkanada, and the Island Academy youth prison on Riker's Island.
16. "From Berlin to Bangkok" – Kirsten Tan, filmmaker
A filmmaker's job number one is to tell a story, and that's something at which Kirsten Tan excels. Though she grew up in Singapore, Tan has lived all over the world — citing South Korea, Thailand, and New York as previous and/or current home bases. Tan received the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts Fellowship while pursuing her master’s degree in Film Production at New York University and has showcased her award- and grant-winning shorts and films at festivals around the globe, from SXSW to Cannes. This year, she earned a National Board of Review student grant for Dahdi. Her latest endeavor, Popeye, was included in the Berlin International Film Festival's Talent’s Script Station, the Torino Film Lab’s Framework Program, and the Cannes Film Festival's L'Atelier showcases of feature films in pre-production.
17. "Double Trouble" – Erin Markey and Becca Blackwell, actors / writers
Whether they are collaborating or coupling, Erin Markey and Becca Blackwell make great partners. Markey, who has been hailed as a "magnetic diva" by the New York Times and a Top 10 Cabaret Performer (for three years running) by Time Out New York, has had award-winning works staged all over the country, including her latest Public Theater offering, "A Ride on the Irish Cream". She also teaches at New York University. Blackwell, an award-winning, New York-based trans actor and writer, portrays the afore-mentioned “Irish Cream” in one of numerous projects that have involved explorations of gender, body, and personhood. The upcoming "They, Themself, and Schmerm" is Blackwell's latest solo foray into that milieu. (photo credit. Allison Michael Orenstein)
18. “Speak My Name” – Janisha R. Gabriel, activist / artist / web designer
A painter, graphic designer, and web design professional, Janisha R. Gabriel is a board member of The BLK Projek and the Technology & Design organizer for Black Lives Matter. She recently founded the Speak My Name Project, a website and database set to launch in February 2016 that will profile black women and girls who have lost their lives to violence. With the stated goal of seeking “to stimulate intra-racial conversation about violence against Black women and girls, for the purpose of healing, reconciliation, safety, and Black power,” SpeakMyName.org is poised to offer a powerful contribution to the national conversation about violence against black people—news media coverage of which tends to focus on acts of violence against black cis-gendered men.
19. “Liberation Front” – Asha Rosa, activist / poet /student
A third-year African American Studies major at Columbia, Asha Rosa is an organizer for the Columbia Prison Divest campaign, a founding member of Students Against Mass Incarceration, and a founding member and co-chair of the NYC chapter of the Black Youth Project 100. Last year she traveled to Geneva to present a report on U.S. police violence to the United Nations as part of a youth of color delegation called We Charge Genocide, and appeared on MSNBC to speak with Melissa Harris-Perry about this cause. Rosa made headlines this fall (she was even profiled in the Wall Street Journal) after finagling a list of Columbia’s investments from the school, and revealing to the media that they were invested to the tune of upwards of $7 million in prison-industrial complex holdings. “Things might not change overnight,” she says when asked about the impact of activism, “but they definitely won’t change if we do nothing. And things have got to change.
20. “A More Perfect Union” – Katherine Franke, author / law professor