Recently the poetry duo, DarkMatter, graced Berlin with their presence. DarkMatter is a South Asian, Trans poetry duo made up of Alok Vaid-Menon and Janani Balasubramanian. They perform works about decolonization, queerness, empire, anti-capitalism, microflora, resistance, love, polyamory and so much more.
They have just finished up a European tour, titled #AntiPride in resistance to June as being the designated Gay Pride month. Through their tour (in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Belgium and Denmark) they are spreading knowledge about how little there really is to celebrate about “gay rights” (read: assimilation into heteronormative imperialist white supremacist patriarchy) when the “gains” made by middle and upper class gays and lesbians feeds violence on queer, trans and gender non-conforming people especially people of color and poor people.
Anti Pride is not new. Gay Pride was built on racist, classist, and transphobic ideals. Gay Pride started as a result of the Stonewall Uprising in NYC in 1969. Typically remembered as an uprising started by white gay men, it was actually trans* women of color who were the first people to fight back on the night of Stonewall.
The recent press conference held by US President Barack Obama for the support of gay marriage shows the literal silencing and hatred put onto working class/undocumented trans* women’s bodies. Activist Gutiérrez created a moment of reality within the press conference by speaking out: “There is no pride in how LGBTQ and transgender immigrants are treated in this country. If the President wants to celebrate with us, he should release the LGBTQ immigrants locked up in detention centers immediately.”.
Obama’s response was to say: “Listen, you’re in my house….Shame on you, you shouldn’t be doing this.” Followed by people in the room chanting “Obama”. This outrageously awful moment of silencing completely exemplifies how gay marriage and pride is used as a means to further devalue, silence and kill gender non-conforming/queer/trans* people, especially People of Color.
I was extremely excited to get to see DarkMatter after following their writing and performances online for the past few years. The event that I went to created a perfect integration of poets coming from the community and DarkMatter’s performance. The first hour and a half 4 poets from Berlin performed their own work followed by a break and DarkMatter’s performance. The money from donations from the event are going towards the Cutie B PoC Festival, a festival for and by queer trans* and inter* Black and People of Color happening in Berlin July 24th – 26th. You can still support this festival! Check out their crowdfunding page here.
Their poems use a mixture of comedy and beautiful poetry as a way to drive home realities of police violence, the privilege and hypocrisy of gay marriage, the need for decolonization, growing up in homophobic, transphobic and racist environments, and being with and loving family as a revolutionary act.
Check out this interview that recently came out with Alok about daily acts of resistance, aesthetics, identities and politics.