As we trudge under the winter sun through the freezing snows of February, it can be important to remember that even if there aren’t any specifically LGBTQ+ focused holidays at this time of year, queer, trans and non-binary folks are still showing up and demonstrating resilience EVERY day in life. LGBTQ+ people throughout history including icons like Josephine Baker, Alan Hart, Harvey Milk, Audre Lorde, Marsha P. Johnson, Bayard Rustin, Frida Kahlo and Virginia Woolfe, are excellent examples of adaptability, leadership, talent, grit, beauty, bravery and creativity worth looking up to. I find myself inspired by history as well as art, music, poetry, dance and theater created by people in this community that doesn’t just showcase hardship and resistance, but also transformation, joy, freedom and resilience in spite of what can be a less-than-affirming world. We are not endless wells of strength and sometimes we need a little light, support or reminder of our beautiful, adaptive natures.
I’d love to show a few examples of delightful work that might inspire you or any LGBTQ+ people in your life today:
Photographer Jess T. Dugan and social worker Vanessa Fabre, PhD, LCSW, photographed and interviewed older trans people around the US to bring visibility to transgender aging, as well as their stories of survival, resilience and joy in their book To Survive On This Shore. Their photos and interviews with some incredible trans and gender non-conforming subjects are worthy of a long look.
Non-binary artist Boy Jr. weaves energetic dreampop and alternative/indie rock into a kaleidoscopic world of artsy textures, mind-bending covers and general genre-confusion.
Watch their music video Chartreusehere.
Nigel Gemini writes club music, wears neon jumpsuits and slings lattes in this colorful music video.
Gender-fluid lesbian and Australian psychedelic/roots musician Tash Sultana wields the guitar, pan flute, keyboard, electronic drums and a sultry, killer voice like no one’s business.
Watch their breakout hit Junglehere.
The organization WERK for Peace was founded in direct response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016, and has successfully held many exuberant dance-offs as peaceful protests and expressions of queer resilience and resistance for years.
Genderqueer lesbian Katy Pyle founded Ballez, a ballet company that centers queer folks and welcomes allies. Check out their accessible intro to ballet video here on YouTube.
The Queer Theatre Project in Somerville puts on incredible performances of both adapted Shakespeare plays as well as their very own community arts showcase called “Qabaret”. Check out their work and see updates on their upcoming May shows here.
I hope one of these arts organizations or creative pieces of media from LGBTQ+ creators inspires you to see your own resilience and creativity today, or admire that of queer, trans and non-binary people in your life!
Melissa Lee Nilles, LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor and expressive arts therapist with a Master's degree from Lesley University’s Mental Health Counseling and Expressive Arts Therapy program. She is deeply passionate about self-exploration through the arts, mindfulness practices and therapy. She seeks to collaborate with her clients using the tools of person-centered therapy, mindfulness, meditation, trauma-informed body-oriented psychotherapy and expressive arts therapy (through music therapy, art therapy, and poetry/writing therapy). Melissa also employs CBT and motivational interviewing to help you transform your life. She prefers a holistic, eclectic and interdisciplinary approach to addressing client concerns.