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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lambda Lit Festival: MUTHA UP

During last week's Lambda Lit Fest, I journeyed through the west side of LA and into old Chinatown to the Poetic Research Bureau for the MUTHA UP event featuring MUTHA magazine which showcases "stories of modern queer parenthood"--and it showed. The four featured artists showcased their work as queer mommas of a diverse set of children. The event did a great job at opening me to more than just the mainstream mother-father of 2.3 cis-gender, heterosexual children that are depicted the "daily lives" of "average people" of America shown in television and movies and even popular literature.

For instance the first author Carla Sameth, who has an MFA and is founder of two writing collectives, began with a rant about the book "What To Expect When You're Expecting" and equating it to a censored, pretty version of motherhood. She then offered a reading of a recent piece she wrote entitled "The Missing Chapter" (or something of the like). This chapter talked about MOTA, alluding to both the Spanish colloquialism for marijuana but also an acronym for Mothers Of Teen Addicts. She talked about a not-so-talked about subject and explained both its ugliness and beauty in the end. When mainstream publishers decide that clean versions of parenthood are the only works that sell, I am glad to know that there are artists--and magazines--out there that showcase and even celebrate otherwise.

The next artist Tyler Cohen, illustrator and creator of Primazonia comics, represented the similar kinds of alternative motherhood stories through her imagery. She literally performed her comics with sound effects and different kinda of tones and pitches with her voice which made her already-hilarious comics that much more funny. And the humor helped make her comfortable comics even more relate-able: when the mother character explained to her young daughter what bras are and that some people do not even wear them, Cohen exclaimed "like you, Mommy" in voice for the little daughter in the story.

The last performer, Wendy C. Ortiz's last bit was my absolute favorite. After reading from a recently published dream-oir (a dream memoir, as she explained), she read aloud from a private Twitter account she has for publishing things her young daughter says. Some of my favorites were: Mermaid boobies are free; Donald Trump's attitude is ugly; Who's my travel agent?

Now, why did I decide to go to this event, an event arguably hosted by parents for parents (I mean, they even started off the event offering beer and wine to the adults for the evening), especially considering I do not want kids of my own? John and I were the youngest people in the room, aside from a couple toddlers who has joined their parents. But when I think of parental figures, I do not only think of my mother and father. I think about my older cousin, my aunt, my school mentors. I can be any of these to a young child and teach them a lot without being their parent, and I think that this subject is one that is important to consider when guiding children into their world and into discovering their own beliefs and values. Hopefully, more children are taught that Donald Trump's attitude is ugly and why that is instead of just the simple fact that he holds an important political and social title.

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