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Exclusive: An Interview with Fran Watson

Houston’s very own Fran Watson, an LGBTQ state senate candidate, sits down to answer questions exclusively for About Magazine

(HOUSTON) The state of Texas has over 50 officials running for office during the 2018 election cycle. But none have quite the resume that Houston’s very own Fran Watson has. The family and estate-planning attorney has served as the president of the Houston GLBT Caucus, the Harris County Democratic Party’s Resolutions Chair, and has been honored by the Houston Business Journal, Pride Houston, Young Black Voices, the University of Houston Downtown’s Pre-Law Association, and countless other organizations, including About Magazine’s FACE Awards as Volunteer of the Year. Now, Watson is running for State Senate; and she gave an exclusive interview to About Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez.

fran2-300x240 Exclusive: An Interview with Fran WatsonTell me a little about what this city means to you, being that you are a Houston-native. What are your favorite parts about it? 

I love Houston. Some of my greatest and saddest moments occurred in this city. I love that it is the fourth largest city in the country, yet everyone in Houston is connected some way. It’s the biggest small town that I know. I love the parks and I love the weather—fall in Houston is quite beautiful. This is my city.

fran1-300x263 Exclusive: An Interview with Fran WatsonWhat did you see growing into your adult self here in the city that inspired you to make this political run? 

Access is not being granted to everyone. Working to keep the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) by speaking up at city hall and getting to know so many people, politically and socially, has taught me a lot about people’s lives and the ways that the lack of protections can negatively impact someone. As President of Montrose Grace Place from 2014-2017, a drop-in Center for homeless youth of all sexualities and gender identities, I saw what happens when people do not have access to a safe home. We must work to change this. I learned that when people come together, change can happen. The upcoming election—both the primary and our November election—is an opportunity for people to come together to make change.

I know that your life has not been one without its share of misfortune. You lost your mother quite young, you were temporarily disabled due to breaking both your legs, and you’ve presumably been faced with the adversities that many POC, LGBTQ women are faced with. Was there one galvanizing moment in your life that really made you want to help others through politics? 

When I broke my legs, I did a lot of reflection at home, and I swore that when I could walk again, I was going to talk to more people. The first few people I talked to—Christina Gorczynski, Paul Guillory, and others—were very active in the LGBT community. I was also helping my friend (and now law partner), Jerry Simoneaux, with his campaign. From there, I got involved in politics and quickly expanding my network and community of politically-engaged Houstonians. I went from helping with the Creating Change Conference alongside 100 people to joining 300 people to fight for equal protections through HERO. I went from volunteering at the polls for the Houston GLBT Caucus to leading the organization as the first black woman president from January 2016 – August 2017.

Your volunteerism and outreach inspire so many people to get involved and to do whatever they can to make a difference. Was there a person like that in your life (or people) that inspired you to be this sort of superhero?

fran3-300x225 Exclusive: An Interview with Fran Watson

Aww. I’m not superhero. I always say that I got started a little late and now I am tagging in. I think this was because of the people in the communities and my becoming enlightened by the issues faced by those I have had the opportunity to serve. When Jerry took me to club meetings and I would hear about ways to help, I just stepped in when I could. I tend to get energy from the people I am around, and witnessing people use their time to help move the world forward inspires me to do what little I can. This is why I have surrounded myself with so many great people for my campaign. I have now assembled a powerful team to run this campaign. It includes six women of color who are managing the details from Communications to volunteer coordination to political advising. People are willing to give up their time and offer their expertise because we all know that we can do better for the people of Texas.

Your slogan is, “People First.” Tell me more about how that came about. 

My brilliant friend, Evan O’Neil, who is also the Digital Director on the campaign, recognized that “People First” truly captured my campaign goals. When we were talking about what my priorities are and why I was running, I kept repeating that it has always been about the people. I work with many communities. I believe we should all show up for one another, because, as Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer would say, “Nobody is free till everybody is free.” We need to re-shift the focus back to the people of Texas because everyone should have equal access to opportunity. Two weeks later, there was a Texas logo with silhouettes of Texans and the slogan People First.

Looking at your stances on the issues, it seems pretty cut-and-dry that you’re just looking out for what is going to help people—from healthcare to education to social justice and much more. Given that we’re in such a state of political discourse all the time, it seems, why do you think so many Republican politicians (read: the Trump administration) aren’t capable of doing the same?

fran4-300x225 Exclusive: An Interview with Fran WatsonUnfortunately, political ideology has gotten in the way of progress. When a few people control most of the resources and there is a perceived threat of loss, those in control can and will change the rules of the game to ensure the control remains with them. For instance, there was a time when small government and local control were consistently spoken by the Republican party. However, the actions of this last legislative session led by a Republican controlled legislature attempted (with some success) to usurp the power from local government. The rules have changed. As my pastor says, “Follow the money.”

Tell me how you’d like to improve the lives of the people in the LGBTQIA community. 

First and foremost, it will fight for statewide nondiscrimination protections and an administrative mechanism for gender marker changes, so all Texans are included in our society. And I will work to ensure inclusive access to healthcare, including HIV healthcare. Because LGBTQIA people are part of every community, I will work to making sure that we focus on access to a strong public education and economic empowerment. I have been serving the LGBTQIA community for some time, and hope that in office I can continue to serve by shifting the direction of state policy. Previously, I have served as part of the LGBT Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, as Board President of Montrose Grace Place, and in so many other capacities in which I am always an openly lesbian community leader. I know that by being visible, I am a role model for others who would like to lead the state of Texas towards a more inclusive future.

If you could go back and tell your teenage self something to help guide you to this point with a little more ease, what would that be?

Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Find a mentor who has navigated these spaces. I would tell myself to hang in there, that the difficult times will teach you to fight for what you believe in and if you stick it out, it is possible to win. That people will support you. I would let myself know that I would meet an amazing, beautiful, supportive, and brilliant spouse named Kim Watson.

“I love houston … this is my city

Many people don’t like to vote straight democrat or straight republican. Who else should we be looking out for in the elections this year? 

Well, I am going to tell folks to vote for the Democrats and encourage folks to vote Straight Ticket Democrat, because this is the last election where we are going to have straight ticket voting. However, there are other parties that are going to be on the ballot. For the March Primary—and early voting starts on February 20th—people will vote in the Democrat or Republican primary, because you are essentially picking your party’s nominee for the general election in November. For the November election, there will be additional party candidates including those from the Green Party and Libertarians. There will also be independent candidates. The ballot will be full this year as there are many important judicial races that are up, including the Family and Probate Courts which have a direct impact on people lives, not the least of all LGBT families.

Who are some of the women (or people) in politics that have inspired you?

Women who make the decision to run for office to make equitable change is inspiring to me. There are so many great women representing us at the local, state and federal level, it is hard to single anyone out. Of course, we have the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Judge Ramona Franklin, Former Mayor Annise Parker. Watching Senator Sylvia Garcia in Austin this past legislative session was absolutely inspiring. I could go on, but these are all women ready to fight for what they believe in and I can identify with that. I believe in putting people first in Texas.

What can we say about Fran Watson that we haven’t been able to say about politicians of past? What is it that makes you the stand-out?

She is a product of the people. All the people. Her moves are the people’s moves. And Fran Watson is a black lesbian candidate prepared to do an outstanding job representing Senate District 17.

I know it’s a little bit in the future, but if this goes well (and we think it will) what do you have planned next? Fran-Watson-300x225 Exclusive: An Interview with Fran Watson

I didn’t have this planned until I got fed up with how Texans were being treated. I saw that mistreatment over-and-over in when I spent my time speaking up in Austin this past legislative session. Like the people who are supporting my campaign, I am ready for change! That said, one issue I care about is higher education and access. I believe the state government should re-regulate tuition at colleges and universities. Higher tuition fees, which are consistently climbing, are pricing Texans out of a college education. For students, including so many first-generation college students, they are having to borrow more money to pay the increasing rates, which leaves students, especially students of color, in large amounts of debt upon graduation. We must look at how we can make public post-secondary education affordable, so Texans can have access. Also, as I’ve mentioned, reproductive health should be on our agenda in Texas, especially with such high maternal mortality rates in our state. We need to be talking about the larger context of health and wellness. Inclusive healthcare which includes HIV care and abortion access is vital. Instead of passing laws that regulate the bodies of women and other people who may become pregnant, leaders in government would focus on breaking down systems of inequity and creating pathways of access for communities to be on a level playing field for success. For me, I plan to work towards economic empowerment for all communities. That’s why non-discrimination protections, equal pay for equal work, a living wage, and health care—these are the things that help to break the cycle of poverty. That’s what I will be fighting for in Austin.

Lastly, if you could tell LGBTQIA kids, or adults even, anything to give them hope in a time where hope is running short, what would that be?

That there is a bench being built of people who have felt the hurt and are working hard to change things. There are nearly 50 LGBTQ people running for office. In Texas! And as a community, we will get through this. Because we always do. Because as long as we continue to have each other’s back we are moving towards a more inclusive society. I have been inspired by the support of those around me and that’s what makes it possible for me to fight.

To learn more about Fran and to donate to her campaign visit her website here.

Primary elections are March 6th, 2018 with early voting beginning February 20th. You can register to vote here.

Fran Watson Gets Influential Senate Endorsements

Tejano Democrats and Houston Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America Endorse Fran Watson for State Senate

(HOUSTON, TX) – Candidate for Texas State Senate (District 17) today received the endorsement of the Tejano Democrats and the Houston Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

The Harris County Tejano Democrats, seek full representation of Hispanics at all levels of government. This includes screening, endorsing and supporting candidates who best represent Democratic principles and Hispanic interests. The Houston Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America announced their support of Watson. The group aims to support an open democratic process. With their members they build and support progressive movements for social change in Houston.

“I am honored to receive these important endorsements. Both of these groups fight to ensure fairness and equality in our city, which are cornerstones of my campaign. I’m proud to have support from such community-centered groups as our campaign prepares for the March 6th primary.” said Watson. “I am running for office so that I can head to Austin and put the people first. These endorsements matter to me because I value community groups that can help me on my mission to improve the lives of those that live in Senate District 17, in our city and in our state”

More about Fran:

Fran Watson is an attorney, certified mediator, and one of the founding partners of Simoneaux & Watson, P.C., a Houston based law firm that focuses on protecting the legacy of families through estate planning and estate administration. She is also a well-respected community leader who has a passion for equality and believes everyone deserves a life of dignity, equal access, and fair treatment.

Fran has served in leadership at the local, state, and national level in organizations and committees whose missions align with those beliefs. She has won several awards including being named a 40 under 40 Honoree by the Houston Business Journal and Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers in Houston. Fran also served as the 2016 Houston Pride Female Grand Marshal. She is a lifelong Houstonian, and earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Houston-Downtown and her law degree from TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

For more informaiton, you can visit Fran’s website.

Fran Watson Officially On Ballot

Fran Watson Texas State Senate

Fran Watson is officially on the ballot for the Texas State Senate.

(AUSTIN, TEXAS) — Fran Watson is officially on the ballot as a Primary Candidate for Texas State Senate, District 17, which covers parts of Harris, Fort Bend, and Brazoria Counties.

On Tuesday, November 21st, Fran traveled to the Texas Democratic Party headquarters in Austin to file her application to be placed on the 2018 Primary Election Ballot.  After a review of the document, the application was accepted by party officials.

“The Fran Watson for Texas campaign is officially underway.  I would like to thank everyone who has supported and encouraged me following my announcement to run for State Senate. The excitement and momentum are there and we are ready to work on building a state government puts the People First.”

An attorney and community activist and advocate, Fran believes in People First, which means that everyone, regardless of look or circumstance deserves equal access to the opportunity to succeed in the State of Texas.  This belief is a driving force for Fran’s public service, including her run for Texas Senate.

“The people of District 17 deserve a Senator who will work to break down barriers instead of creating them. I am ready to work on people-centered solutions that elevate the quality of life for all Texans.”

The Primary Election in Texas is March 6, 2018.  The General Election is November 6, 2018.

You can visit her website here.

Isobel Explains It All

Isobel O'Hare, writer, poet, queer, sexual assault, explain.
Isobel O'Hare --- the queer writer tackling sexual assault with poetry.

Isobel O’Hare tactfully corrects sexual assault statements of Louis C.K., Harvey Weinstein, and more in their series of erasure poems

(TAOS, NEW MEXICO) —  The ensuing conversation and controversy surrounding Hollywood’s elite recently is anything but shocking. Women, queer people, trans people, and people of color are not strangers to sexual assault and violence committed by people perceived to possess more “power” or “authority.” Still, this behavior has been perpetuated to sickening extremes throughout the history of the human race.

However, something sort of marvelous is happening: these dirty old men are being held accountable for their actions, because the victims of these assaults are owning their stories and honing their courage to step forward and say, “We’re not going to fucking take this anymore.” Because they’re being held accountable, men like Louis C.K., George Takei, Harvey Weinstein, Jeremy Piven, and Kevin Spacey have been preparing quick (albeit defensive) statements that encompass an entire spectrum of mansplained explanations. Takei, a long-time proponent of always believing the victims of sexual violence, has outright denied allegations (a la Bill Cosby). C.K. has at the very least had the nerve to own up to his actions and apologize. Spacey has blamed his actions on (and I’m paraphrasing here) being drunk and gay. As for that classless crotch-itch that is Harvey Weinstein? Well, he’s pretty much still just a gross old man who thinks his behavior is okay because he began his career in the 60’s and apparently thinks Mad Men is some sort of biopic or WikiHow video.

But the real beauty of these statements is not what the assailants themselves have said to their fans and followers. No, no. The real magic is what one queer writer/poet located in Taos, New Mexico has done with those aforementioned statements.

Their name is Isobel O’Hare (pronouns they/them/their), and they are making waves not just in the literary world as a writer, but also on a level where their poetry is being seen and shared by numerous media outlets and celebrity advocates such as Rose McGowan. In their series of erasure poems, “All This Can Be Yours,” O’Hare has taken the responsive statements of numerous sexual predators who have spent their careers in the spotlight and created erasure poems out of them.

Screen-Shot-2017-11-15-at-12.58.16-PM-259x300 Isobel Explains It All

For those of you who aren’t familiar with erasure (or black-out) poetry, it’s a form of found poetry that allows the writer to take a previously written text, black-out the words they do not need, and leave only the words that make-up a poem.

23509499_921428078021168_6224391470347188057_o-244x300 Isobel Explains It AllO’Hare’s erasure poem made from George Takei’s statement regarding allegations of sexual assault. 

After seeing writer O’Hare share their poems on Facebook, they agreed to talk to About Magazine about the queer perspective of sexual assault:

About Magazine: Sexual assault—especially so in the community of queer people, people of color, and women—is nothing new. Could you tell me a little bit about your initial reactions to these brave individuals coming out and standing up for themselves against such high-profile celebrities?

Isobel O’Hare: I think it is the ultimate bravery. Naming one’s abuse is a painful, exhausting process, especially in the face of a system that would prefer we stay silent and maintain decorum, and especially in a society where victims are constantly blamed for what happens to us. So often I have seen survivors point to a problem and then get blamed for that problem, or be responded to with deflection and distraction. So many of these men’s victims have been living in fear and intimidation, and so much of their art has been prevented, silenced, blotted out from the world due to this intimidation. My friend, the poet Dena Rash Guzman, wrote recently on Facebook, “I’m so tired of being the bad guy in this,” and I think most survivors can relate. And this isn’t just an issue in Hollywood. It exists in the literary community and probably in every artistic (and spiritual and political and and and…) community you can imagine. And I have never encountered a single person who approached the issue of a callout without giving it serious consideration, not least of all because of the damage and shame they would suffer themselves. Nobody does this for fame or money or any kind of reward. They do this to exorcise themselves and their communities of demons. And when those demons have all the money, power, support, and expensive lawyers at their disposal, you can imagine how terrifying that is.

I don’t think I have ever met a person who hasn’t been traumatized in some way, and I don’t think we as a species are quite ready to confront that yet, that we are all damaged in some way, all hurting. So instead we point at other people and label them the damaged ones, and they become scapegoats, when in reality those people are just the most open about their damage. We should be thanking them for showing us who we are.

It’s clear that the responses from the celebrities has sparked a certain rage in you (and I do mean that in the best way). Where did the inspiration come from to use their statements to create such moving erasure poetry?

My rage fueled these erasures. I have a lot of rage, and I have a lot of conversations with fellow artists about the uses of rage. It’s a poorly understood emotion. My original goal with these erasures was to make myself feel better about having to read this shit every single day, and I hoped that by sharing them on social media my friends could share in my catharsis. As I worked on them, the purpose of what I was doing became clearer to me: I was revealing the truth (as I see it) behind their PR statements, and I was reversing what they had done to their victims by erasing their voices, their creative work, and in some cases their careers. I had no idea that the erasures would blow up in the way that they have. It’s a tiny bit scary, but I’m so pleased to hear from so many people I’ve never met that the poems have contributed to their own healing in some way. That’s more than I ever could have hoped for.

You identify as a queer person. In the case of such names as Kevin Spacey and George Takei, do you believe that these men were under the impression that because they could blanket themselves under their queer status that they could get away with sexual violence?

I absolutely do think that Kevin Spacey used his queer status as a tool of deflection in his statement. It is my opinion that predation and homosexuality have nothing inherently to do with one another, so to conflate the two the way he did does incredible harm to a community that already suffers from dangerous stigma and myths. I was very angry when I read those words because I have seen how the myth of gay perversion has affected my friends and members of my communities. Language has the power to move people to action, and action fueled by homophobia can and does lead to violence and death. You didn’t assault people because you are gay, Kevin. You assaulted people because you’re an asshole.

George Takei used his history of activism to deflect from the issue, which is that he harmed someone. And now he claims that the sexual assault allegations were manufactured and propagated by Russian bots, which I find ridiculous and insulting to Scott R. Brunton, the actual human being who claims to have been assaulted by him. My erasure of Takei’s statement seeks to highlight the fact that just because someone is a prominent and outspoken activist doesn’t mean they aren’t also hurting people. The feminist community knows all too well the disguise of the “nice guy” or the “male feminist” who is only in it to get laid. I hoped to draw attention to the fact that, despite George Takei addressing his fanbase as “Friends,” we really don’t know anything about him other than what he and his PR machine want us to know.

How personal is this issue to you? Understandably, it’s personal for so many people around the globe. 

This issue is very personal for me. I was first sexually assaulted at the age of 4, and I believe that early experience messed with my sense of personal boundaries to the extent that I became victimized many times over in my adolescence and early adulthood. I know firsthand how abuse like this transforms the shape of one’s life. I used to wonder what I could have been if these things hadn’t happened to me, but I’ve come to the understanding that I am not irreparably damaged and that I have a perspective on trauma that is actually valuable. I’ve managed to find my people in this life, and they are beautiful. And I am continuously learning how to claim and stand in my power, in large part thanks to them. In the immortal words of the butterfly in The Last Unicorn, “You can find the others if you are brave.”

We spoke specifically earlier about how other outlets are covering your poetry as if it’s solely from a “woman’s perspective,” but that they are glossing over (or possibly just don’t have the information to understand) that you identify as a queer person. Do you have anything you’d like to say to that point, or about why this is such an important queer issue, as well as one for women?

I think most outlets don’t realize I’m queer and non-binary, which is partly my fault because my website has a bio that uses the pronouns she/her. I am a queer non-binary femme and I’m fine with either they/them or she/her, but my heart does tend to sing a bit more with the former.

When the #MeToo campaign popped up after allegations against Harvey Weinstein, I saw a lot of people using the hashtag to silence queer and non-binary people, as well as men (whether queer or not) who have also been victims of sexual assault. I found that a disturbing aspect of a campaign that should have been about amplifying the voices of all survivors, not just the female ones. Yes, most predators are men and believe me, I am as filled with rage against men as anyone, but not all of their victims are women. We have seen how many men come out with stories about Kevin Spacey now? I know quite a few men who are sexual assault survivors, and I knew quite a few boys who were when I was growing up, and sometimes the language of popular survivor movements can alienate and erase these men’s experiences. I think it would be wonderful if survivors could prop each other up as much as possible at this moment.

The trans POC community statistically suffers from a greater deal of sexual and physical violence, but this is less discussed even within our own community. What do you think cis-gender/non-POC queer people can do during this movement to shed light onto the trans POC community’s issues in these cases?

I think those of us who are at a lower risk of violence need to amplify the voices of those who are most at risk. We need to share the insights of trans POC without arguing with them. If a trans POC says that something is problematic, racist, and/or transphobic, then their truth needs to be supported. We need to listen to and honor the needs of our trans colleagues, and we need to be prepared to risk our own safety for their sake. We need to support the creative work of queer and trans POC. The world needs that work desperately, and anyone with a platform should be supporting and urging that work on. We need to talk about the trans POC who are killed every day and not let their lives and their work simply disappear.

We also need to acknowledge the contributions POC have made to every single social justice movement we are a part of. For example, the #MeToo campaign was started, sans hashtag, by a black woman ten years ago. Too often we steal from the most marginalized people in our communities and pretend their genius wasn’t what started all of this in the first place. A few years ago, I attended an event in DC where my dear friend Dane Figueroa Edidi sang so powerfully and with such beautiful rage that my body nearly exploded, and I want more people to hear her voice. There is no reason why Edidi isn’t our President, to be honest.

We also need to consider that there are likely many, many very marginalized people who are still being kept silent about their abuse right now. We might never hear their stories, but I am sure they exist.

IsobelOHare-300x277 Isobel Explains It All

More about the writing: how long have you been writing, and what are you interests in writing outside of erasure poetry?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. The first and only job I ever expressed wanting to have was that of a writer. Everything else I have ever done has been secondary to that, even though writing has brought me almost no money. My writing has always tended toward the darker aspects of life, and so my poems have often been fueled by my traumatic experiences, sometimes collaged with reworkings of old stories of maligned goddesses and observations made while watching old Forensic Files episodes. In terms of form, I have a chapbook of more traditional poems (by which I simply mean that they are not erasures), called Heartbreak Machinery, coming out from dancing girl press in 2018. I used to think, “I should probably write about something other than abuse and trauma,” but I’ve come to realize that those thoughts come from a place of shame that shouldn’t dictate how I channel my art. I’ll keep writing about these issues as long as I feel moved to, and if I’m moved to for the rest of my life, that’s OK too.

It seems that artists have long been undervalued in this country—especially queer writers. And yet writers like yourself are using art to bring such important topics to light and start a conversation we should have been having for a long time. Was this how you saw your writing career before you began as a professional writer—as a means of encouraging social action?

I didn’t have a plan or a vision for how I wanted my “writing career” to turn out, and I still laugh at the idea that I have a writing career at all. I’m a poet, which means I’m sort of chilling in this moist ditch while all the other, realer writers are driving their fancy cars by me, splashing me with dirty roadwater. At least, that’s the story that has been told about poets forever. And I’m still just starting out. When I was 14, a coworker told me, “Your mouth is going to get you in trouble someday,” and I think back to that all the time. I think she was right, and that that is probably a more accurate prediction of my trajectory as a writer than anything I could have dreamed of for myself or my writing up to this point. And if getting in trouble means challenging rich men who abuse their power, then I’m all for it.

As a queer writer, what would you like to see more of in poetry and literature—especially commercial poetry and literature? 

I would love to see more visual poetry. I mean, I obviously love erasure, and I especially love erasure that, like good satire, punches up rather than down. (Erases up?) I co-edit a literary journal with Carleen Tibbetts called Dream Pop, and we have been fortunate enough to receive some truly amazing visual poetry submissions ranging from erasure to collage to weird diagrams to fabric with poems stitched into it. It’s so much fun not only to read these things but to enjoy them as art objects, to think of poems as art objects, and to share those art objects with people who might not have ever thought that poetry could be this way. Additionally, we have received poems from queer and trans writers who are pushing the boundaries of language in relation to trauma and gender, and I’m excited to see where these writers go next. Specifically, I am thinking of poets like Chloe Rose and Linette Reeman. I see myself in the future drowning in a sea of queer poems, and I think that would be a pretty good way to go.

Do you see this conversation changing the landscape for queer people, trans people, people of color, and women? What do you think other writers can do to help paint that new landscape, and what advice would you give them? 

At this particular time, I do see the landscape shifting a little, but maybe you’ve just caught me at an optimistic moment. I do think this conversation will change the way a lot of us see people who hold positions of cultural power, and that we will question our devotion to and faith in such people. And I hope that that questioning will lead to a greater openness to the narratives of marginalized people.

I don’t feel like I’m terribly qualified to give other writers advice. All I can say is that the things I have written that hold, in my mind, the greatest power were the things I wrote when I was shaking with rage. I don’t know if that’s how everyone should do it, but maybe some of you out there are afraid of your rage (I once was, too!) and if that’s you, I hereby give you permission to embrace it, use it, follow its lead, and it might take you to a place you never expected full of other people who recognize you because they did the same and now you’re all here together.

To read more from Isobel, you can visit their website at IsobelOHare.com. You can also purchase A Shadow Map: An Anthology of Survivors of Sexual Assault, in which O’Hare contributed, edited by Joanna C. Valente. O’Hare is currently planning a collection of these poems, which they are currently working on.