Artist Statement

My process of making is like hip-hop: I sample my life, family and friends; I remix visual references from history, pop culture, and diasporic cultures; I rap about the different facets of identity and experience. In black vernacular “doing the most” means someone is behaving in a way exceeding what is necessary; as a maker I embody this. By obscuring text, invoking esoteric imagery, and working abstractly, I force the viewer to investigate and question my work, and hopefully their assumptions about identity politics. As such, presentation, representation and performance are critical sites of investigation. Continue reading Artist Statement

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Guest Post: Modern Online Dating- A Reflection

When I think of dating, I think of horror stories I’ve either read about or heard from friends of either horrible Tinder dates, cringey conversations on OkCupid, and ridiculous and egotistical bios and profiles. I’ve dipped my toes in online dating a couple of times, but every time I do I ultimately delete the dating apps from my phone or deactivate my accounts on online dating sites, especially after being swarmed by some weird-ass messages only a few minutes in. Ah, the gloriousness that is modern online dating.

Growing up, I gathered an idea of what the dating environment, and being in relationships, could be like from the many TV shows and films I watched and grew fond of as a teenager. I never would have fathomed that the dating universe I would inherit would be what it is today. It’s become a fast-paced environment with the integration of quickly swiping left if you don’t like someone and right if you do solely based on the profile the person creates of themselves, or at least the self that they want to portray to others in order to attract people. Now, I’m aware that the experience is different for everyone, especially on platforms that are formatted differently than the swipe left or right format, but the dating realm has become a sort of bland shark tank for me, and it’s honestly really weird. Normally I’m pretty open to starting conversations on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc. since the initial purpose of these platforms aren’t to help create a romantic relationship, but I was hesitant to send the first message on online dating platforms.

I had unrealistically high expectations that I would find the “perfect” person through a dating website that I would click with instantly, which put excessive pressure on myself to not only send the first message, but a first message that would make that other person like me right away and cause them to want to continue the conversation. Ridiculous, I know. I now realize that I put so much unnecessary labor into creating an ideal image of myself on online dating platforms when I really shouldn’t have given a single fuck about what cis men thought of me. I wanted to find someone so badly that I didn’t realize until I reflected back on that time that I wouldn’t have been able to if I continued to portray an image of myself that wasn’t truly me. Parts of me, both good and bad, have changed along with the modern online dating environment.

The way that online dating has morphed myself and other millennials, specifically in regards to interacting with others, has surprised me immensely. Writer Caroline Beaton claims in “How Possibility is Paralyzing Millennial Romance” that “by producing a surplus of options, online dating has ironically yielded romantic standstills,” and this seems to be absolutely true in my eyes. My mindset going into dating has changed partially because of the infinite amount options made available. Although it’s sometimes still surreal that online dating platforms have the capability to allow millions of people to connect from all over the world where one wouldn’t normally be able to in real life, there’s no doubt that with the increase of options comes the increase of pressure to fit into the physical and personality ideals that recent online dating and mainstream media encourages as a whole. I really don’t engage with online dating platforms as much as I used to, but when I was neck deep in it, I felt like I couldn’t compete a lot of the time, especially since these platforms are heavily focused on the physical and on first impressions being the ultimate deciding factor in whether people want to meet someone IRL or not. That, or I felt like I only attracted some odd folks. Around the same time that I decided to move past being so dependent on these platforms, I also learned how to better value myself and my time with others.

Ever since I chose to significantly lessen my time in the online dating universe, I’ve made it my goal to try and socialize more to not only try to get to know people from the ground up but to also train myself to keep up with the friendships I have. While doing this, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been putting more value in everyday human experiences and interactions, especially in regards to dating and it’s so ironic to me because of how little I socialized before, hence the prior dependency on online dating platforms. I now place significance and importance on intimate moments like meeting up with someone for coffee, going to see a new museum exhibit, or even just catching up after a run-in with someone at Target (a common trend for me). For me to want to cherish and not take advantage of human moments in a time where online dating has become the new norm to many has been so crucial for me and has become a clear sign of retraction from that portion of the internet that I used to be on so frequently. Going from a place within myself where I fed off of most any decent interaction I had with men online (if any) to someone who became confident enough to thrive and to find the pureness in human interactions away from any screen is something that has value a thousand times over the perfect online dating profile.

Be open. Be soft. Be squishy.

I have to be honest with myself: I have been using the Internet and social media as a crutch. The world is scary. No, I’m not talking about the impending nuclear assault, or the men finally being held accountable for their actions after years of inaction. No, I’m talking about interpersonal relationships. I’ve been avoiding connections with people in real life; preferring the distance facebook and instagram put between us. What I’m talking about the V word we try so hard to avoid: “vulnerability”. I have been trying to write this blog post for at leas two weeks now; every time I sit down to write I am scared about the truth I know inside my soul. I’m not walking the walk, and quite frankly, if I talk the talk, I’ll force myself to be accountable. Continue reading Be open. Be soft. Be squishy.

Straight Edged Consent

We’re at the point now where our feeds unfortunately full of reports of sexual violence of many varieties. It’s so often at this point that I’m sure many of your reactions have gone from full on shock to more of a “wow, who’s next?” and while I understand and somewhat share that sentiment, it’s mostly caused me to think of how I work to keep consent a priority in my relationship.

In addition to many other things, I’m straight edge. For those of you who may not know what that means, straight edge is most easily summarized as someone who does not drink alcohol/beer or smoke anything. In really strict forms of this lifestyle you also avoid casual sex but that’s a separate thing. Continue reading Straight Edged Consent

Colored

I have always had an interesting relationship to color and pattern, it’s almost impossible for me to think of one without the other; as someone who has always been interested in art and fashion this isn’t very shocking. I think the reason I love color so much is that it has so much power. As human beings, we love color. Our obsession with color has led to much advancement in the arenas of science, technology, apparel and beyond. One of the phenomena I’ve noticed is that people are intimidated by color in their wardrobe more often than not. I’m not sure if the fear comes from not being able to mix and match color, or if people genuinely dislike color. I personally have been trying to add more color, exploring complex color and pattern combinations in my own wardrobe however the affinity for black, navy, brown and grey within our culture has made it hard for my plus sized body to find the interesting garments I crave. Continue reading Colored

Just Like Your Friends: Terrel in conversation with Bryan Patrick

This week we’re back in conversation with another of the bloggers on this site, Bryan Patrick. Two weeks ago, Bryan Patrick came out as queer on the site and we have a great conversation about the development of that post and the aftermath of such a personal revelation:

T: Well, it’s part interview, part discussion so we will talk about things we have in common, I definitely want to hear a bit about before during and after releasing your first post which I purposely (read accidentally) scheduled for national coming out day.

BP: okay! So yeah, where should we start? I can talk about sorta how I came to realize I was queer or like my “queer role models” you being one of them or the reaction I got afterwards. I got thoughts on all of em. Continue reading Just Like Your Friends: Terrel in conversation with Bryan Patrick

I’m Queer: Part 2

I cannot begin this piece without thanking the huge variety of folx who have reached out in support, or with congratulations, or by giving a simple “like” on Facebook. As I said in my last post, I knew I would be accepted and encouraged by my friends, but the outpouring has been unlike anything I’ve experienced in my life.

For Part 2, I want to talk about how I was forced to confront something that’s been causing me stress and holding me back from my emotions: my socialized idea of masculinity. It’s easy to say “toxic masculinity has kept me from being truthful with myself,” but that is oversimplifying a much larger issue that manifests in many ways in my life and that, most recently, has caused me to avoid asking big questions about myself, including questions about my sexuality. Continue reading I’m Queer: Part 2