This panel centers the hybrid narratives of queer and transgender of scholar-activists of color. Weaving together personal narrative and the, at times, resilient destinations that theory and activism can lead us to, these readings explore the mental health practices of three QTPOC scholar-activists during the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel will be followed by a Q&A with the speakers, moderated by Max Ferguson.

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Digital Drag Havens: Finding Queer Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jennette Ramirez elucidates their experience navigating the world as a Mad queer person of color transitioning to graduate school during the COVID-19 pandemic. Having been academically focused on drag performance as community activism, Jennette felt initial grief over the loss of these essential spaces of community. Jennette explores digital realms to find queer spaces of community in digital drag shows. Expanding on José Esteban Muñoz’ Queer Utopia, they imagine how utopia manages to exist through the work of QTBIPOC artists in times of change and chaos.

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Jennette Ramirez

is a first-year Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California. Their research interests collide at the intersection of queer of color critique, performance studies, counternarratives, queer theory, and monster theory.

Queering and Cripping Survival: Mental Health Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Shayda Kafai explores the ebbs and flows of navigating mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. In moments of intensity, slowness, and panic-spinning, this hybrid text of poetry, theory, and personal narrative performs Mad, disabled, queer of color mental health survival during a pandemic that has left so many of us feeling unearthed and isolated. How can we queer and crip survival? How can we imagine and begin to create decolonized futures where we survive? Shayda will use Disability Justice, queer, and crip theory politics to address these questions.

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Shayda Kafai

(she/her/hers) is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies in the Ethnic and Women’s Studies department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. As a queer, disabled, Mad, femme of color, she commits to reclaiming our bodyminds from intersecting systems of oppression. To support this work as an educator-scholar, Shayda applies Disability Justice and collective care practices in the spaces she cultivates. She lives in Pomona, California with her wife, Amy.

Queering in the Midst of Chaos: Mental Health Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Bri Sérráno provides their narrative of simultaneously experiencing affirmation and anxiety regarding their own gender identity and expression. The pandemic has shifted how they are read and exist in the world as a trans masculine person being read more as a “man” with an increased fear of being outed in public. They share explicit times of reflection on the pandemic, euphoria, and what regrounds their existence.

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Bri Sérráno

is a non-binary trans masc Latinx scholar who specializes in experiences of transgender faculty, staff, and students in higher education. Bri oversees an LGBT Center in the California State University system, serves as an Adjunct Faculty in Ethnic and Women’s Studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Colorado State University Higher Education Leadership Program. Bri experiences chronic major depression and has generalized anxiety disorder that informs their experiences of living as a queer and trans disabled scholar.

ModeratorMax (formerly Sarah) Ferguson

has been a practicing artist since 1996 and received his BFA from the University of Regina in 2001. He graduated with an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2017 and is currently pursuing his PhD in Art and Women’s and Gender Studies at York University. His artistic explorations involve madness, neurodivergent and trans-queer sexualities, activism, the body, surrealism, and psychoanalysis.  Max’s work involves computer-based works and installation, paintstick, graphite, and digital collage. Currently, his work revolves around hybridized notions of photography, sculpture, sound, installation and performance, involving the psyche, the body, activism, queer theory, and mental health.

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