OUTside In

After a tumultuous year in LGBTQ, it's time for an emotional check-in


Morgan Robyn Collado

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage comes up, Morgan Robyn Collado rolls her eyes and says, "As far as I'm concerned, mainstream white gays and lesbians are as much my enemy as straight people are." Such statements from Collado, who identifies herself via her Tumblr as "a lower middle-class, femme, queer, Latina transwoman," may read as simply inflammatory. But behind Collado's sentiment is a politics informed by political action and poetry. Collado cites Alexis De Veaux's biography of poet Audre Lorde as an early, important influence.

Throughout our conversation (longer transcript at austinchronicle.com/gay), Collado would call a city (Boston) or groups of people (the aforementioned mainstream white gays and lesbians) "trash," because she's "not going to argue with anyone about my community. That's not up for debate. And if you don't see me as a human, I'm not going to waste my time on you." While her vitriol puts off some, such a politics of disgust and refusal also creates communities, which find validation in shared experiences and sentiments. "To be honest," Collado says, "I just started to talk shit on the Internet. I had a lot of feelings, a lot of thoughts, and I started to put them online. People – some people, not everyone – found what I had to say important."

Collado's writings ("talking shit") have a particular gravity and currency on social media platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr, where the short, pithy call-out is privileged over lengthy think-pieces. A few lines and a reaction .gif gets to the point quickly. For Collado, her posts on Twitter and Tumblr are a vital part of her activism.

Responding to the perception that Internet activism is less efficacious than in-the-streets protests, Collado remarks that many of these opinions are, "rooted in ideas of what activism looks like. Which is oftentimes very ableist. I don't often have the energy to go to a rally, or to some of the spaces where demonstrations are held. ... Direct actions are very important. But also, let's remember: diversity of tactics. Talking about things on the Internet is part of that."

Stakes are high, as Collado says that, "the likelihood is less for me than for other folks – black trans women are the most likely to be murdered – but Latina trans women are also victims of racialized violence. Living with that reality that I can be murdered, if and when someone chooses to murder me, makes it so that I have to do this." Making art and writing are ways for Collado to process, heal, and propose alternatives to systems that marginalize the experiences of trans women of color.

"If I die," she continues, "I want people to know I existed."

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