Charis welcomes editor Mattilda B. Sycamore in conversation with contributors: Edric Figueroa, Patrick Milian, and Stephen H. Moore for a celebration of Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis. Between Certain Death and a Possible Future offers crucial stories from this missing generation in AIDS literature and cultural politics.
Every queer person lives with the trauma of AIDS, and this plays out intergenerationally. Usually we hear about two generations--the first, coming of age in the era of gay liberation, and then watching entire circles of friends die of a mysterious illness as the government did nothing to intervene. And now we hear about younger people growing up with effective treatment and prevention available, unable to comprehend the magnitude of the loss. But there is another generation between these two, one that came of age in the midst of the epidemic with the belief that desire intrinsically led to death, and internalized this trauma as part of becoming queer.
This wide-ranging collection includes 36 personal essays on the ongoing and persistent impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis in queer lives. Here you will find an expansive range of perspectives on a specific generational story--essays that explore and explode conventional wisdom, while also providing a necessary bridge between experiences. These essays respond, with eloquence and incisiveness, to the question: How do we reckon with the trauma that continues to this day, and imagine a way out?
MATTILDA BERNSTEIN SYCAMORE (mattildabernsteinsycamore.com) is the author, most recently, of The Freezer Door, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, one of Oprah Magazine’s Best LGBTQ Books of 2020, and a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award. Her previous non-fiction title, The End of San Francisco, won a Lambda Literary Award, and her novel Sketchtasy was one of NPR’s Best Books of 2018. Sycamore is the author of two non-fiction titles and three novels, as well as the editor of five previous non-fiction anthologies, including Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform, an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book. She lives in Seattle, and her next book, Touching the Art, will be published by Soft Skull in 2023. Between Certain Death and a Possible Future is her sixth anthology.
EDRIC FIGUEROA is a queer, first-generation Peruvian American born in New York and raised in Georgia who strives to build self-determination, embrace the intersections of identity, and address the structural determinants of health in his professional and personal endeavors. Through grassroots organizing and HIV prevention work in Atlanta, Edric grew resilient and connected to activists across the country. He spent six years in Seattle, supporting LGBTQ survivors of violence, families, and youth before returning home to Georgia in 2019. He stays loving, grateful, and accountable to his values through the
support of a community that stretches across coasts and borders.
PATRICK MILIAN lives and writes in Seattle. He teaches writing and literature at Green River College and is the author of the chapbook Pornographies. His poems and essays have appeared in the Denver Quarterly, Fourteen Hills, Mid-American Review, and POETRY. His book, The Unquiet Country, a collaborative project with the composer Emerson Eads, is forthcoming from Entre Ríos Books.
STEPHEN H. MOORE grew up on the traditional homelands of the Cherokee people in what is now Georgia. He is a graduate of Smith College. Today, he lives and writes on the traditional homelands of the Massachusetts people. His hobbies include gardening, bicycling, wood carving, making music, and growing legal cannabis. This is his first published story. He thanks the ancestors.
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Every queer person lives with the trauma of AIDS, and this plays out intergenerationally. Usually we hear about two generations--the first, coming of age in the era of gay liberation, and then watching entire circles of friends die of a mysterious illness as the government did nothing to intervene.
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A meditation on the trauma and possibility of searching for connection in a world that enforces bland norms of gender, sexual, and social conformity.
When you turn the music off, and suddenly you feel an unbearable sadness, that means turn the music back on, right? When you still feel the sadness, even with the music, that means there's something wrong with this music.
Sketchtasy takes place in that late-night moment when everything comes together, and everything falls apart--it's an urgent, glittering, devastating novel about the perils of queer world-making in the mid-'90s.
The End of San Francisco breaks apart the conventions of memoir to reveal the passions and perils of a life that refuses to conform to the rules of straight or gay normalcy.
Gay culture has become a nightmare of consumerism, whether it's an endless quest for Absolut vodka, Diesel jeans, rainbow Hummers, pec implants, or Pottery Barn. Whatever happened to sexual flamboyance and gender liberation, an end to marriage, the military, and the nuclear family?
"Sycamore kicks mainstream literature in the teeth."--The San Francisco Bay Guardian
As the gay mainstream prioritizes the attainment of straight privilege over all else, it drains queer identity of any meaning, relevance, or cultural value, writes Matt Bernstein Sycamore, aka Mattilda, editor of That's Revolting! . This timely collection shows what the new queer resistance looks like.