Femme Friday — Rahel Neirene

I’m an old school, in print, kind of femme, and subscribe to as many queer publications as I can manage. In my April/May Advocate, the beautiful and exuberant Rahel Neirene is featured in “Contributors”, where we learn that:

Assistant Editor, RAHEL NEIRENE is a queer black femme living in Brooklyn who loves to talk about feelings, sexual health, and plants. She’s constantly reimagining the ways one can interact with time, space, and memories; especially through scent. Much of her written work covers healing and being a survivor of sexual violence.

 Do you know how rare it is that someone identifies as a queer femme, just willy nilly right out in the open? You don’t know (or perhaps you do) how much guessing and wondering I do as I peruse my queer rags and just fossick around in Ptown and otherwhere. So first of all, there’s that. Second of all, Rahel wrote a profoundly moving, generous, soul searching and heartfelt post-election piece that reads like a how-to for life, love, survival, and how we can work together for peace on all levels, heart to world.

Deep gratitude to Rahel for rising and setting regardless.

My fear made me think about my future. I questioned so much in the past several days. I thought about how hard it is to find work and how I’m the best hustler I know because I always make things happen and even when things fall apart around me there is ALWAYS something else that I move into. I thought about my creative desires and what would happen if they never come to fruition. I thought about how safe I would be going forward from the heightened security that I would see in future hours, days, and months. I thought about how I have never felt completely safe and how I fear for my friends, family, and lovers safety. I thought about my anger and frustration and what it means when I am working in customer service and have to hear white people talk about how sad they are about the state of America and how they can’t stop crying about it. How they feel at a loss. How I don’t have time to feel that. I have to keep going. How it’s been like this long before the election and how it’s gonna continue to be like this. How Wednesday morning, an old black man on the subway said, “I fear for your future honey,” as he got off the train. How I wanted to say to him, “I don’t. I’m ready.”


I thought about what I really want. I want white people to accept the reality that their families are fucked up, and they can’t run away from it. I want white people also to understand that being pissed and not having space for white fragility in my life doesn’t mean that I don’t create with white people. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love on white people. I really, really, really want white people to actually get to know what whiteness is so real dialogues can happen.

            I want to be able to have conversations across the intersections of POC. I want us to be able to yell about it, to call each other on our shit, and to really listen. I want us to be able to cry with each other about how frustrating it is to figure out how to be there for each other without hurting each other – because realistically – we gonna hurt each other sometimes.

I want us to be raw about how we see each other so we can know who we are looking in the eyes. I want us to admit that we are silent about what each of us struggles with; admit that we don’t take care of each other at various moments – and sometimes we just can’t, and that’s OK; that we hold hostile doubt about how we can move and shake shit up. How whiteness has caused us to be fearful of really being soft with one another. How myths of productivity have taught us to see the person whose creative moments have been put on pause as lazy, ignorant, and not using their full potential. How we see what we want and desire out of each other but we aren’t looking past that to really see what the other wants. I want us to build with each other and protect each other’s solitudes.

            I want us to imagine what it’s like to really communicate with each other on that level of mutual respect and understanding. How digging into our own personal storms and walking through the debris will allow us to be able to survey the aftermath. Then we can talk to each other about what the fuck is happening and how we can make moves.

            How then, do we dig into our storms? I am reminded of Audre Lorde’s A Litany for Survival — how we weren’t meant to survive anyway. But we do. We are subverting life itself. How fucking beautiful is that? I took several moments to look at myself and my own subversion: I am here. I am Black. I am femme. I am queer. FUCK YES.

            When I woke up Wednesday morning, my thoughts weren’t on crying. My thoughts weren’t on “OMG HOW DID THIS HAPPEN TO US?” My thoughts were “Bitch you already knew. Get your clothes on cause you have an interview to kill today.” There was no pause in my thoughts. I pushed through my exhaustion, through the pain of migraines. I became the sun and moon all at once. I rise and I set regardless.

–from GOMAG, 11/14/16 “On Queer, Black, Femme Survival: When the Spirit Says Move, You Move” by Rahel Neirene

Every Friday, The Total Femme showcases a queer femme goddess. Suggestions welcome!

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