By David Lopez
LibroMobile Arts Cooperative (LMAC) celebrates arts and culture through all forms and aims to build community by elevating the voices and work of Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC). The acknowledgement of the important contributions from the LGBTQ+ community in the arts, is also part of a narrative that needs to be upheld. As we continue to do this work every day, let’s take a moment to highlight 5 Queer BIPOC artists in California who are using their art forms to create the change we need in our communities. Follow them and show them some love.
D’Lo is a queer/transgender Tamil-Sri Lankan-American actor/writer/comedian whose work ranges from stand-up comedy, solo theater, plays, films and music production, to poetry and spoken word. D’Lo is currently in development on a scripted series based on his life that is set up at BTR Media and Paul Feig’s Powderkeg Media. He recently performed his solo play To T, or not to T? at The LGBT Center. His tv/film credits include co-starring in the HBO series LOOKING as Taj, on the Amazon series TRANSPARENT, the Netflix series SENSE 8 and USA’s Mr. ROBOT. Through his works, D’Lo advocates for the queer and transgender South Asian community and for sharing our own narratives in any way we can. As a writer he has been published in various anthologies and academic journals, and he is the creator of the “Coming Out, Coming Home” writing workshop series which have taken place with South Asian and/or Immigrant LGBTQ Organizations nationally, which provide a transformative space for workshop participants to write through their personal narratives and share their truths through a public reading.
Jay Lynn Gomez is a Los Angeles-based Mexican American artist whose paintings depict the invisible working class that are dismissed by wealthy homeowners as well as addressing issues of immigration. While Gomez’ work opens dialogue about class and race, it is her own openness in asserting gender nonconformity that sets her apart in the art world. Her voice is louder than ever as she has pivoted in placing herself front and center on social media as a transgender artist. Still keeps true to the importance of the subversion of her artwork.
féi hernandez is an Inglewood-raised, formerly undocumented immigrant, trans non-binary visual artist, writer, and healer. féi is an Advisory Board Member of Gender Justice Los Angeles and was one of the artists for Forward Together’s 2019 Trans Day of Resilience Campaign. They are a Co-Founder of ING Fellowship which provides mentorship to Inglewood youth working on projects to counteract gentrification and was also a femmetor for the 2019-2020 Seeds of Liberación (SOL) leadership development program for young transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGI) people in Los Angeles. They are a certified Reiki and Akashic Records practitioner who utilizes a decolonial approach to ancestral energetic healing. féi’s debut poetry collection, Hood Criatura, was published in August 2020 and was on NPR’s Best Books of 2020.
An excerpt from Reason Men Build Walls by féi hernandez
He tried to sever parts of me during his inner war:
tried to slice me with his love like a molten silver sword,
he tried to fling my soft womb inflamed into abyss,
but with my too-much-bidi-bidi-bom-bom in my hip
too-much-Frank-Ocean in my lovin’,
being too-much-divine and storm in the summer,
being too good of a serpentine shapeshifter,
I dodged and shattered a fragile masculinity.
I, the two spirit beast, am the reason why men build
walls, borders on their fingertips. I am the catalyst for why
men don’t shed tears, don’t open up.
Thai Nguyen is a fashion designer and owner of Thai Nguyen Atelier in Orange County, California. The Vietnamese born designer has created pieces for major names in the industry, including Jennifer Lopez, Ali Wong, and Anika Noni Rose, just to name a few. His major source of inspiration for fashion is his bridal business which he has curated specifically for the Vietnamese community who wanted to stay in touch with. You may recognize Thai from one of the most heart-felt shows on Netflix in 2020, Say I Do! The life makeover show featured three fabulous gay experts, Jeremiah Brent, Gabriele Bertaccini, and Thai Nguyen, as they worked with eight couples who worked through roadblocks and were able to have the wedding of their dreams. Thai’s experience in fashion made him the Fairy Gown Mother. Thai’s own experience as a gay may in a long-term relationship became a pivotal moment in the show when he shared that he cannot bring himself to marry his partner until he has his parents’ approval. Thai instantly became a spokesperson for those in the LGBTQ+ community who find themselves in difficult situations with their families because of who they are and is using his platform to empower others.
Recently, Thai launched a crowdfunding campaign to put into production a doll with the traditional Vietnamese áo dài in honor of his heritage and as a response to the lack of representation for the Asian community in mainstream media.
Dorian Wood is a multi-disciplinary non-binary artist. Their music transcends and shakes you to the core. Through music and art Dorian sends messages of solidarity and obliterates societal norms and expectations of gender and sexuality. Dorian is a force that celebrates the beauty in every body and shares love through song and performance and physicality. Their work has been showcased in concert halls and performance spaces around the world. From 2019 to 2020, Wood completed several successful international tours with their chamber orchestra tribute to Chavela Vargas, XAVELA LUX AETERNA. As a visual artist, Wood has created illustrations and video installations that have been exhibited in galleries around the world. Dorian’s short film Paisa, debuted at Outfest in 2019. The film is an immersive fever dream that celebrates the beauty of queer brown sensuality, body positivity, and individuality.
David Lopez is a Queer, Latinx writer and librarian from Santa Ana, CA. He is a former Barrio Writers writing advisor and has supported LibroMobile since inception. Currently, he helps curate programs and events and aiding in securing reliable community partnerships.
#OffThePage is taking pitches via email and paying contributing writers. Our Arts & Culture column was initially founded by local journalist Gabriel San Román, who is now a featured writer at Times OC and a former OC Weekly staff writer. Subscribe to his weekly Slingshot! Newsletter. And in case anyone is wondering, he's still the tallest Mexican in OC.