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Letter from the Editor-in-chief

It’s so cool to have the opportunity to be sitting here and writing this. It’s so cool to be a silly little trans dyke sitting at my silly little computer, telling you what utopia means to me and to Iris. I always get really annoyed at the “look how far we’ve come” people, but legitimately, it is crazy to me that we have at least come far enough to have a voice, to have a space where we can talk about those sorts of things and hope that people might really listen.


The space that queer people have been permitted to take up has always been so constrained and limited that it often feels one-dimensional; to gain approval of our existence, however, that space needed to be positive, comprehensive, and contained. The identity politics of it all has kept us pretty tight-knit in our little corner of the world, diluting us down to the “positive” attributes that queer people are allotted: flamboyance (but not to the point of obnoxiousness), vulnerability (but not to the point of weakness), and so on—the LGBTQ+ community is okay, so long as it is limited to pride parades, drag shows, and lighthearted reality TV shows. Of course, even the performance of these qualities was (and is) limited to white, able-bodied queer people.


I cannot sit here and write that I buy into the constructed utopia that queer people were allowed to take up once they had made enough space for themselves to be noticed at all. As the “Don’t Say Gay” bill passes in Florida and anti-trans legislation passes in Texas, I’m reminded more than ever that the concept of queer utopia is one that we are still so far from attaining. I’m reminded more than ever that sometimes, no matter how far we come or where we are, things still happen every day to limit the rights and liberties of queer people, and that that will never not be terrifying. This shit is absolutely terrifying.


It’s cool to be sitting here at my little computer talking to you, but it’s hard. I’m reminded right now of how many people don’t have this opportunity, and how many never will. I’m reminded of the privilege that I have in skin tone, class, body, and birthplace, which enables people to listen to me more than they would other people. I’m reminded of how scared I was to take up this space, and how absolutely mind-boggled little high school me would be to know that this was something I would get the chance to do.


I’m also reminded of how incredibly important a space Iris is to me. To get an idea of what we wanted this edition to look like, our web design team took some time for us to set up a virtual mood board to show what “utopia” looked like to all of us. The screen kept popping up with all these different pieces of artwork, lyrics of songs, photographs of celebrities and models, photographs of ourselves and our pets, stupid cartoons, personal jokes, beautiful landscapes, and much more that I’m sure I am failing to remember.


Sitting in our e-board meeting, typing and dragging images across each of our screens to create something together, I felt warm. I felt invigorated and adoring. I felt proud and emotional, watching the faces of my friends light up and focus in on creations that they felt passionate about, that they wanted to bring into a space that we had created together. We had this meeting a day after one of the people in that room called me sobbing about the legislation being passed in Texas. No space is ever perfect, but at least ours can be safe.


I hope that you find safety and refuge in our utopia edition, in the reminder that queerness, no matter how it is damaged, diluted, or drawn down, is our own little utopia.

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