m. a. brooks – i am queer


If I could take all my parts with me when I go somewhere, and not have to say to one of them, “No, you stay home tonight, you won’t be welcome,” because I’m going to an all-white party where I can be gay, but not Black. Or I’m going to a Black poetry reading, and half the poets are antihomosexual, or thousands of situations where something of what I am cannot come with me. The day all the different parts of me can come along, we would have what I would call a revolution.

— Movement in Black by Pat Parker

i am queer. a dirty queer. i am a beautiful abomination and the word queer encapsulates all of me: my artist self, my freaky black self, my farmer self, my radical marxist anarchist self and the list goes on.  i geek out about being queer because there is so much research to the word and the state of being.  to me queer is a state of being.  to me queer is a perpetual non acceptance of normativity whether it be gender, physical, sexual, societal, or psychological.

i first found queerness in new york city.  i was studying at the la mama theater and reading david wojanarowicz.  i loved his illustrated book “memories that smell like gasoline”. all the stories of guys sucking cock and his intense expression of rage against the dominant heterosexist society were appropriate for my growth as a queer human.

i wasn’t as overt with my own rage but it was running through my veins like blood.  i wanted to overthrow every lie i had been brought up with.  i wanted to overthrow the entire capitalist hegemonic system but how was i going to do that with art?  how was i going to do that with my metaphorical, pretend army of queer freaks?

now i am in san francisco.  still queer as fuck.  i live in a queer poc artist collective.  i make queer dances.  i have hot queer sex.  i even have a queer garden. what’s missing is an affirmation of my radical BLACK queerness.  i want my queer black ancestors like pat parker, marlon riggs, bille holiday, audre lorde and james baldwin to come over for tea and give me a little bit of advice on how to assert black queer power.  i want to see more radical politicized black queer artists. i want to find them and i want them to find me. blackness, to me is queer.  i’ll have it no other way.

m.a. brooks

This year, 2011, ten memorable moments i experienced in bay area performance were:

1. The event “black love in public (blip)” where black people came together in down town oakland to hug each other. blip was organized by  see think dance  director Eboni Senai Hawkins

2. Amara Tabor Smith’s “Eat Ins” at Counterpulse, The Tenderloin National Forest and Mission High School.  The “Eat Ins” were part of Amara’s Our Daily Bread Project–a food justice dance project.

3. Dante Baylor and Emily Leap wrestling in the rain during SQUART: Into the Wild at the Headlands Center for the Arts

4. Catherine Galasso’s intimate spectacle, Memorandum of Understanding: Your Butt is Covered at Meridian Gallery

5. Seth Eisen‘s brilliant shadow puppet Show at the Home Theater Festival

6. Phillip Huang‘s comedy routine about how to seduce a black man at Too Much!

7. Keith Henessey dripping gold drag and singing “What The World Needs Now Is Love” for the Home Theater Festival

8. Anna Martine Whitehead eating ribs to the Peter and the Wolf soundtrack at Too Much!

9. Dazie Rustin Grego’s monologue about a gay black mentor in Too Much!

10.Peter Max Lawrence‘s solo in black paten leather Jessica Simpson pumps and pink dress in SQUART: Into the Wild at the Headlands Center for the Arts.

m. a. brooks discovered magical San Francisco in 1995 and began performing solo, body-based performance work at venues like Luna Sea and The Lab. Since then, m. a.’s work has expanded from solo performance to film, aerial dance and circus.  m. a. currently dances with San Francisco aerial dance company, Fly Away Productions and is in residence at The Tenderloin National Forest with Dirtstar–an interdisciplinary group of artists focused on radical sustainability. In June of 2010 was granted a Djerassi choreographer’s residency.




  1. m.a.,

    resonating so much with your words and also pat parker and that urgency for our all parts to coexist. something that took me a long time to work through myself regarding an inclusivity of thainess and trans-masculinity, and how they felt mutually exclusive for such a long time. what does it look like to write/create/be through the center of that fragmentation? creating a space for radical black queerness, how to find that in you and others, a collectivity, what does it look like to perform through the center of that?

    also, love wojnarowicz and amara too!

    I hope you have that garden tea party with your radical black queer ancestors.


  2. mary ann – I love reading Pat Parker as intro to your queer story. And it’s so affirming to see that your top ten includes such DIY events as Home Theater Fest, SQUART, and Too Much! I dig how much people are taking risks in these vibrant queer spaces. I have a line in Saliva that goes: I am looking for a home where the whole me is welcome. That is to say, yah, I feel you about the parts, which is really also about segregation and division in our immediate communities. And yes, Anna Martine’s rib eating provocation still resonates with me too. Here’s to tea parties with ancestors…

  3. I just read “Memories That Smell Like Gasoline.” Holy shit, right? Love you, Mama.


  4. I also first discovered queerness while reading Wojnarowicz in New York City (part of a Queer Literature class which changed everything for me — everything). I kind of dig how far our paths diverged, given that they really initiated from the same point.

  5. Honored to say the least about being included on this list. The other works obviously drown out my silliness.

    digital love,


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