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Derek Newman-Stille's Narrative

SHOW YOUR PRIDE -Nonbinary Flag

I remembered to take a picture of my nonbinary pride flag for Pride Month. I’m celebrating all of the other nonbinary folks out there! Happy Pride

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Derek Newman-Stille's Narrative

SHOW YOUR PRIDE – A Painting For the Last Day of Pride Month

I decided to do a cute little watercolour featuring LGBTQ2IA people casting shadows in the form of a rainbow as a way of celebrating the last day of Pride month. Happy PRIDE month!!

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Derek Newman-Stille's Narrative

SHOW YOUR PRIDE – Rainbows and Unicorns Everywhere

I decided to show my pride by wearing a shirt that is COVERED in unicorns and rainbows. I am… not subtle!

Though I may loose my membership in the LGBTQ2IA community for wearing socks and crocks…

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Derek Newman-Stille's Narrative

Creativity on Zoom – Some Co-Authoring Shenanigans

Today I got to meet with my friend and fellow author Nathan Frechette and we spent a large part of the day reading fairy tales to each other for an upcoming project.

There is something wonderfully healing about getting a chance to hear stories read aloud. For me, hearing a story aloud brings me right back to childhood and the act of hearing stories from family members. But reading our work is also a performance art, and Nathan and I also put a bit of a theatrical spin on each of our readings.

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Derek Newman-Stille's Narrative Nael Bhanji's Narrative

Eyes on Peterborough – OUR EYES ARE STILL OUT THERE!!

Earlier this summer, Nael Bhanji and Derek Newman-Stille went around Peterborough’s downtown putting googley eyes on various objects as a way to create smiles during the COVID epidemic. We were excited today during our socially distanced walk to notice that some of them are still there!! Hopefully they are still entertaining people who find them.

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Derek Newman-Stille's Narrative

SHOW YOUR PRIDE – My Pride Wear for Today Celebrating the Deaf Community as part of the LGBTQ2IA Community

Since LGBTQ2IA Pride Month isn’t happening in person due to COVID-19, I am hoping that we can show ways that we are celebrating Pride in our homes. I am hoping we can share different ways that we are creating Queer beauty, and continuing the project of Queer liberation.

Today, I am wearing my Pride in the form of a shirt with American Sign Language (ASL) on it spelling out “equal”. I wear this because it is part of a campaign for equal rights for LGBTQ2IA people, but also because it makes sure to include and recognize the Deaf community as an important part of our Queer community.

I am Queer, Nonbinary, and Disabled, and although not part of the Deaf community, I was taught ASL by my friends Jennifer Endicott and Evan Hibbard and given a sign name by them. It takes the letter “d” sign (for Derek) and then incorporates it into the sign for fairy (acknowledging my Queer identity and femme qualities). Sign names must be given by members of the Deaf community and I am honoured that Evan proposed my sign name and then Jennifer confirmed it. Even felt that Jennifer was the best person to give me my name because she is the one who primarily taught me ASL. You can see my sign name below.

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Derek Newman-Stille's Narrative

Chosen Family

I’ve been reflecting a lot today on chosen family – the family members that we choose rather than those that we share genetics with or are connected to by marriage. Chosen family are an important part of the LGBTQ2IA community. Many people within our community have been kicked out of their birth families or have strained relationships to their families.

My biological father was abusive, so early on, I developed a notion of blood relatives not being as important as the people who care for us and cherish us. My mother was able to rescue us from my biological father and eventually my family came to include my step father and step sister and my little brother. I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of a “step” family. They are as much my family as anyone else.

I have been told repeatedly throughout my life that “blood is thicker than water” and I’ve never been comfortable with that concept. I’ve seen violence by “blood” family and I’ve seen care and love from people who have come to take roles of family in my life. I think that people aren’t looking deep enough into the “water” and seeing what it means and how it connects us.

My chosen family has been developed over the years by reaching out to an including the people that matter in my life. It has been an act of finding resonance with people. By resonance, I don’t mean that we are “the same”. In some cases, it is our differences that make us chosen family – the way that we teach each other and learn from each other.

I’ve been reflecting today on how important and powerful chosen family can be and the way that having chosen family can be a powerful social act. When we look out on the world and see it full of potential siblings rather than looking for the accident of birth, we see the people we meet as potential family. We see community as potential family.

I have been looking at pictures of my chosen family today and reflecting on what they mean to me and how much they have shaped who I am.

Here are some photos from my album that I’ve been focussing on today

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Derek Newman-Stille's Narrative

Happy Little Accidents – A Personal Artistic Challenge

While I am working on my art cards, I’ve also been working on my perfectionism. Generally with my art, I obsess over every detail and spent a huge amount of time getting things just right. With this art card project, I have decided to listen to Bob Ross and consider every “accident” in my art an opportunity.

My rule for myself with these cards is: don’t waste a card. If there is an accident, consider it a “happy little accident” as Bob Ross would say, and work it into the art work. It’s been a powerful process of acceptance and also an opportunity to stretch my own artistic skills. I consider it a healing process and an opportunity for learning.

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Derek Newman-Stille's Narrative

Gender and Dysphoria – A Quarantine Discovery

For folks that don’t know, I am nonbinary, which means I don’t identify as either male or female. Despite this, my body still produces testosterone, and that means that I still grow facial hair. I hadn’t noticed how much dysphoria my facial hair causes for me until the months of quarantine.

Like many people, I tried being a bit more lax on my daily routines, and I considered letting my facial hair grow in a bit instead of shaving it every day. I thought, “this won’t be an issue, only Dwayne and I will really see any facial hair unless I am in skype meetings, which have been less regular since the academic term has ended and there are fewer meetings. But, I found that I couldn’t go more than a couple of days without shaving. Initially I didn’t think of this as a dysphoric response, after all, I know many other nonbinary folks who have facial hair…

But I began to realize the power of the response to seeing myself in the mirror with any facial hair. I had always had some discomfort with any facial hair, which is why I would shave regularly,… but it took the experience of social isolation for me to really reflect on what I was experiencing when I looked in the mirror. What I saw in the mirror wasn’t me. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t look like who I am. It made me incredibly uncomfortable and felt like I was looking at a stranger. I finally realized what I was experiencing and finally connected it to dysphoria.

In the past, I have generally said that I don’t experience gender dysphoria like many Trans folks do. I have told people that I generally experience a form of gender EUphoria (a form of excitement and love) when people use my correct pronouns (they/them) or when people acknowledge my gender identity…. but I hadn’t thought of the dysphoric experiences I had until I began staring in the mirror, trying to see my face through the facial hair and trying to see something that felt like me… something that felt right.

I had always felt a bit uncomfortable when people grouped me with male people, never really feeling like they were MY people or had anything really in common with me. I had always felt a bit off when people called me “bro” or “dude” or “man”. It never really felt right, but I hadn’t thought of this feeling as dysphoric. I didn’t feel the disgust that some folks in the Trans community had described. I just felt that the terms didn’t really reflect me. They didn’t seem to resonate with how I felt. But standing in front of the mirror, I felt some of the depth of that experience, had some of that discomfort come bubbling up and realized that I had been feeling it for a long time and pushing it down, saying to myself that I just didn’t like my facial hair.

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Derek Newman-Stille's Narrative

Boost Up Cards

I have been hand drawing some cards for friends and family to send out to give them a bit of a boost up and send a little love. This is a tough time and although I’ve been doing check ins, sometimes it’s nice to connect with people through something other than Zoom, Messenger, Skype, or Email. I figure these cards will convey a little message of care to them.

Each of these is hand drawn in ink by me. I’ve taken pictures of them before I provide any personal messages since I want those to be just for the recipients.