Contributors, Interviews, Projects

Meet the Humans: Julya Oui

As part of our campaign we will be introducing you to our contributors – the fabulous, creative and talented people we’ve recruited for this project.


Being an author and a screenwriter Julya Oui believes in keeping monsters, having nightmares, and dreaming up worlds that defy logic. While Mother Nature inspires her, mindbending curiosities motivate her. She lives in a town known as the City of Everlasting Peace, or Taiping, somewhere north of Malaysia. She is also a pluviophile and an entomophile who loves shinrin-yoku.
BioPixHiRes.JPGYou can find her here and here.

[Knight Errant Press]: Is gender identity a theme that comes up a lot in your writing? If not, what pushed you to explore it this time around?

Yes. It’s not so much of a question as to why or how but a question of being realistic.

[KEP]: Has exploring gender affected your worldview and your writing and reading habits?

Definitely. I have seen the world through different physical forms. How I was treated for being so gave me insights I have never known or seen before through a series of actions and reactions. That is why it’s always nice to read a book without having to focus on the characters’ physical forms which can easily be misconstrued for what they’re not, like how it is in real life.

[KEP]: Was there a particular book, short story, poem or event in your life that inspired you to write your own?

[J]: I grew up with Pan Book of Horror Stories, doses of The Twilight Zone, and superstitions in my little old town. But what inspired me to pursue the love of my life and kept me going was The Lesson of the Moth by Don Marquis.

[KEP]: What author or book do you think is most underrated? And why?

[J]: Jungle without Water by Sreedhevi Iyer. She made me laugh and cringe and upset at how wonderful and terrible life can be at the same time.

[KEP]: Is there any book, written by someone else, that you wish you’d written? Would you change it, if yes – how? 

[J]: The Old Man who read Love Stories by Luis Sepulveda. I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s too beautiful to change even a single word but I would like to write something as gorgeous as this some day.

[KEP]: What’s the most famous book you haven’t read?/play you haven’t seen?/album you haven’t listened to?/film and TV series you haven’t watched?

[J]: I have not read a lot of classics but I guess the most outstanding thing I haven’t done recently is to watch or read Game of Thrones. I still haven’t a clue what I am missing.

[KEP]: Do you ever feel like you have book FOMO (fear of missing out) because of a famous title you haven’t had the chance to read, if so, which one?

[J]: Yes. All the time. I’m a slow reader and I can only go as fast as my love for reading can allow me to. I would like to get my hands on Yesterday by Felicia Yap. Futuristic murder mystery? Hell, yes!

[KEP]: Tea or coffee?

[J]: Tea.

[KEP]: Early morning or late into the night?

[J]: Early morning.

[KEP]: Digital or analogue?

[J]: Both. Depending on the situation.

 


GetFileAttachmentWould you like to support #QueerQuarrels?

Here are a couple of the ways you can do so:

  1. pre-order the book (and other perks) on Kickstarter
  2. boost us on Thunderclap
  3. support us by sharing and retweeting on Facebook and Twitter!
  4. if you’re in Edinburgh, Scotland – pick up a copy of our preview booklet @LighthouseBooks
Projects, Team

It’s Alive! #QueerQuarrels

Kickstarter Launch

teawolf

Remember how we kept talking about working on our project F, M or Other: Quarrels with the Gender Binary?

Well, no more teasing and you having to wait — we are ready to raise funds and be able to share this brilliant book with you!

tinyurl.com/queerquarrelsvolume1

We have been working hard since the first open call for submissions and have managed to create and put together something that we are really proud of and eager to share.

F, M or Other started out of the desire to provide a platform for people to project their opinions and experiences with gender and its social construct to a wider audience. Now its ready to do exactly that, we just need your support in order to fully bring it to life.

A combination of hard work (and great luck) has led us to being able to gather over 40 incredible creators and writers whose pieces will be compiled into an anthology split into two volumes. Each piece has a unique perspective on the theme of quarrels with the gender binary. We wanted to make sure that when you pick up the book, you are provided with a range of experiences and thoughts expressed in different forms. Gender means different things to different people — it only makes sense to show this through a variety of formats. The anthology is filled with poems, essays, short stories and comics that are here to shake things up.

Using Kickstarter gives us a chance to reach out to you, dear readers — people who want to read a book that does not try to put anyone into a neatly organised box but instead, is letting the quarrelous nature of gender speak for itself. The crowdfunding page will provide you with information about the project, showing different ways of pre-ordering the book and supporting authors and a small, independent publishing company.

Don’t worry if you dont have any money to spare, we appreciate your support in any way thats accessible to you — pitching in at Thunderclap, sharing the Kickstarter page and using the hashtag #QueerQuarrels will make a difference.

Thank you for your continuous support that reminded us during long work hours and stressful editing nights, that you want this book to exist and you are ready to have more queer writing out in the world.

If you missed the event @Lighthouse Books, make sure to check out our Twitter (we tweeted live) and Instagram (click on Birdie to see live videos).

GetFileAttachment
Preview Booklets for #QueerQuarrels ‘sold like hotcakes’ – with donations going to support LGBT Health & Wellbeing, a cornerstone local LGBTQI+ charity supporting the “community of communities”(c) Jules in Scotland. You can pick up a copy and donate what you can for the cause @LighthouseBooks. (Browsing recommended, their selection is absolutely fantastic.)

Love, The Team

Team

Liberal snowflakes demanding safe spaces

Embed from Getty Images

by Lenka Murova 

The phrase ‘liberal snowflakes’ has been thrown around a lot recently, assigned to those who are pushing their ‘extreme liberal agenda’ and are easily offended and unable to face reality. It appears that by asking for equal rights, these ‘snowflakes’ are overreacting and infringing on the rights of others. There are loud opinions voiced from each side every day and many have strong views on the topic and refuse to budge.

More often than not, ‘liberal snowflake’ gets thrown in with ‘safe spaces’. There are those who mock the entire idea and deem it as ‘pussyfying’ the nation, claiming that the liberal agenda is going too far and trying to create a bubble that does not mesh with reality.

By definition, a safe space is “a place or environment in which a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm.”[1] I don’t know about you, but nothing in this definition sounds like something we shouldn’t strive towards in our society. So why do people get so angry when someone claims they want a safe space?

University campuses are often brought up in the debate concerning the need for safe spaces. As universities are places for debate and learning, many argue that safe spaces go against that very idea, infringing on the right for free speech. Their claim is, how can you freely express your opinions if you have to act according to the rules of safe spaces? However, these same people are often unaware of how skewed their perception of free speech is. If someone wants to play the ‘devil’s advocate’ and argue that many women lie about being assaulted and thus should not be taken seriously when they report it, they’re simply perpetuating wrongful ‘facts’. Rehashing the same argument over and over in academic debates and perpetuating this viewpoint only validates people outside these academic circles to use it as ‘alternative facts’ to win arguments. Narratives like these cause real damage to victims of such crimes by spreading false information. This has nothing to do with protecting free speech, it only excuses abusive behaviour.

What many do not understand is that safe spaces are meant to provide reassurance and a sense of belonging for those who are still not widely accepted in society. Rudo Ellen Kazembe lists all the ways that these safe spaces help people work towards improving their lives. LGBTQIA+ people are one of the main groups who are criticised for needing safe spaces. However, Katie Dupere points out the harsh reality that there is no real safe space for queer people. The danger of physical or verbal assault is still an everyday reality for many. That is why we continuously seek others who are a part of our community, so that we can be surrounded by people who understand what we might be going through. The pursuit of safe spaces is based on this idea, wanting to be around others who understand and accept you for who you are. It’s about knowing that you have a place that you can turn to, a place where you don’t feel threatened.

But all of this is just the ideal, perfect version of what a safe space should be. More often than not, though, reality doesn’t match up. Undeniably, there are many marginalised groups which have to struggle in their everyday life in a way that privileged people are not even aware of. It is those who have to fight for equal rights that deserve to have somewhere they can turn to when the outside world is too hostile. The LGBTQIA+ community is a minority that has been constantly fighting for equal rights and their place in society. However, even the LGBTQIA+ community is guilty of overlooking certain issues and allowing stereotypes to fester. There are reports about trans women of colour being physically assaulted and killed on a daily basis in the US, yet there is not enough activism devoted to this issue. The recent UK election made trans people who were registering to vote jump through multiple hoops, which many found discouraging. Recently, black and brown colours were added to the original pride flag during this month’s Pride events in Philadelphia. While they did this to show support for people of colour in the community, they received an immense amount of backlash.

Safe spaces lose their meaning if we exclude certain minorities from our communities. Safe spaces only make sense when they are safe for everyone in the community, not just the select few. There is more than one colour of the rainbow on the flag for a reason, the reason being that the community is immensely diverse. It is hard to argue for the need of safe spaces for marginalised groups in view of the harassment they are subjected to, especially when it happens within our very own community. Being hypocritical does not provide much legitimacy, not to mention that it also hurts the common cause.

That is why we have to work harder on improving our own community, why we have to uplift and highlight the voices that have been silenced for so long. Equality means equality for all. It is necessary to create safe spaces where everyone can express their thoughts and share their experiences without fear. These spaces should provide an opportunity to recharge after a constant battle against discrimination. Spaces that give people within the community strength to venture outside and create a safer world. This requires constant work, discussion, improvement, listening to each other and working towards making change and being critical of our own community and ourselves.

It is necessary to focus on providing a platform for those who are continuously denied their representation in the mainstream. The publishing industry has this opportunity to amplify voices that many in the commercial media view as too risky and unmarketable (with particular emphasis on profitability). Through publishing work that reflects the personal truth of the marginalised, it is possible to create safe spaces where people can affirm that they are not alone in their experiences. A publisher can be seen as a ‘gatekeeper’ – someone who makes the crucial decision of who and what can and cannot be published. That is why it is necessary to have a publishing house dedicated to giving a voice to underrepresented sections of the public. By publishing the work of writers whose stories reflect diverse communities, it is possible to bridge gaps in people’s understanding of others and their experience of life.

[1] https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/safe_space

 

Written and researched by Lenka Murova