WINTER 2020 VOL. 1 ISSUE 5 | DEC 11, 2020
(TW: depression, obvi) (Also lol @me unraveling in literally every single one of these ~Letterz from the Editor~)
Last week, I took two online quizzes to determine if I was depressed. I scored "severe" on the first quiz, and "mild to moderate" on the second, so it turns out that I am basically the ~full spectrum~ of depression, a human-shaped rainbow of existential apathy. **PSA: you/I should definitely seek professional help instead of self-diagnosing with online quizzes but... pobody's nerfect!
It turns out that "coming out" as depressed is a lot like coming out as gay. As someone who has been in therapy for the last 6 years and quotes Brene Brown regularly, I was shocked and a little embarrassed to discover that I still held some internalized depression-phobia. Depression is totally chill! I have soooOOooo many depressed friends—they are great and I love them! And yet... despite all the signs that I have not been well for several months now, I was still adamantly opposed to acquiring the label myself. Why was it so much easier to blame and punish myself for "laziness" and "unworthiness" than it was for me to admit to my depression and ask for help?
Over the next few days, I began speaking about my depression more and more, trying on the unfamiliar word as if I was a baby queer first attempting to come out through button-ups and Doc Martens. I felt the need to have the outside world witness my depression in the same way I had needed the outside world to witness my queerness—to confirm that it was real, to confirm that it was okay, to confirm that I would be okay.
I mentioned my depression to a new intern that I had recently started working with. They are queer, Asian American, and 18 years old—a baby! in my tired millennial eyes. To my surprise, they responded by telling me that they have been on anti-depressants for a few years now, and that they had needed to ask their (Asian) mom for her consent to do so, since they had been a minor at the time. I was shook. Not only were they already deep in the process of treating their mental health, but they had talked to their mom about their depression. I immediately thought about the fact that after all these years, I have never once told my mom that I am in therapy, too afraid of what might follow that kind of vulnerability.
This 18 year old's bravery was deeply, deeply inspiring to me—the resilient hope of tomorrow cracking through the darkness of today. I gazed back at them in their little Google Hangout square in absolute wonder. I dramatically declared that they had given me the confidence to set up a psychiatric consultation and that I would even tell my mom about it afterwards.
This week's issue of DIS-ORIENT features a conversation with drag queen besties, Satanna and The Luna Naughty, a reimagining of queer mythologies—"Woman, Horse, Ballerina" by jas lin, Jason Vu, and Kyoko Takenaka, a reflection on a mother's forgotten dreams—"How to Sing: A Survival Guide" by Chris Ignacio, and another poignantly illuminating card reading by Ian Simmons-Francisco.
We hope that you can find something in these stories that help you feel warmly and whole-heartedly witnessed—you are real and you are going to be okay. You are going to be great. Actually, you already are.
COMING OUT DEPRESSED
JAMIE LEW & THE QASC TEAM:
MAYA REDDY, LEO ALYASHAA, & KAMANI SUTRA
Hello my QASC Icons.
This PoV is brought to you by Satanna (AKA Leo)—QASC's resident Gen Z-er. The first time I met Luna was in 2018 at uni. Luna saw me perform “Love Galore” at SDSU's school-wide drag show in a two piece outfit that was ~a choice~. Even after seeing me for the greasy rat that I was, Luna slid into my DM's the day after the performance. Since then, we've done almost everything together, and our friendship has shown me a lot about myself. I'd like to think we've grown together in and out of drag—we're so different in both aspects from the first time we met. We're not the same bb queers that we were at the time, and it’s always been good to know that I have someone in my corner who shares similar experiences with me. SHE'S MY RIDE OR DIE!!! She has taught me so much, and having her as a friend and sister has been one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. I've learned so much from her, and for that, I'm forever grateful and humbled.
Picture the setting: Luna and Satanna are sitting in Luna's room—in half drag, sharing a single set of lashes, and eating faux beef burgers—just camera ready for this interview **video recording will not be released since it's extremely cursed.**
Hi Queer Asian Social Club. This is Satanna also known as Leo Alyashaa, contributing member for QASC. This is Ms. Luna Naughty. Would you like to introduce yourself to everyone? What are your preferred pronouns, etc?
Luna has helped me with my confidence and sexuality, which I used to struggle with and still do at times. Performing and having the persona of Luna has allowed me to get in touch with myself on a deeper level.
THE LUNA NAUGHTY:
Hi, my name is the Luna Naughty, known as Ian out of drag. My preferred pronouns are they/them, but I don't mind he, she—anything that's not malicious.
S: Great! I go by, he, she, they, very gender queer, very gender neutral, not giving a f*ck. Today we will be talking about our experiences as queer Asians—where we have come from and where we are now. We are also eating some food while doing it because comfort food makes us feel comfortable enough to speak. I think we should start with a question to get the mood going:
Who are Satanna and the Luna Naughty?
S: Satanna thinks she's a demonic goddess but she's really just a sultry succubitch. Her aesthetic is heavily influenced by leather, latex, and a whole lot of anger. Satanna is still very much a baby and her style is coming into fruition slowly, but surely. "I'm forever evolving.”
L: The Luna Naughty is a shapeshifting succuwitch. I pull from many different aesthetics for Luna because I view her as a dynamic character; however, Luna’s go-to does consist of lots of leather, sex, and latex. I love doing whatever I want in drag, whether it is scary, pretty, or anything else. I don’t like to limit myself in what I do with my art and I am usually extending my real life into my art.
What was your first introduction to drag? How has performing as Satanna and the Luna Naughty changed how you perceive yourself?
S: When I was in 7th grade, my sister was watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. When I saw what she was watching, I just felt intrigued. I was confused, but it was amazing to watch the colors, transformation, and all that other good stuff. I think of this as a pivotal moment in my baby queer experience. REPRESENTATION MATTERS. If I didn't have Drag Race, I think I'd still be lost with my queerness. Without it, my journey with my gender identity probably would've taken a lot longer.
L: My first introduction to drag was when I was 19 and studying abroad in Australia. While there, I visited a drag bar for the first time. I fell in love with the characters that the drag artists created, especially once I was able to get to know them on a deeper level. Then I started practicing drag makeup on my own. Luna has helped me with my confidence and sexuality, which I used to struggle with and still do at times. Performing and having the persona of Luna has allowed me to get in touch with myself on a deeper level.
I go by, he, she, they, very gender queer, very gender neutral, not giving a f*ck.
Has discovering and embracing your queer identity changed how you feel about your racial identity?
S: I'd always hated my skin color. I wished I was white almost every day that I woke up, and it was detrimental to my mental health. It wasn't until I started drag that I realized I did actually love myself—I just needed that extra little push that I think a lot of people need when they're discovering who they are. Drag allowed me to heal a lot of the open wounds I had been carrying, both queer and skin-deep. I'm a lot more accepting of who I am as a person now than I was 4 years ago—however, I'm still figuring a lot out and that's fine!
L: Going through my queer identity journey and accepting myself fully for it has helped me accept my racial identity, and vice versa. Learning more about my culture has validated my queer identity because a lot of Eastern societies celebrate gender identities that are non-traditional by Western standards.
As diasporic people, do you think home is somewhere we can rebuild, rediscover or return to, if so, where is this place for you?
S: Definitely, yes. I mean, there is no home in terms of ‘Homeland’ for me to go back to, especially because I will get murdered if I even think about wanting to go to Iraq, which sucks, but I definitely think the concept of home starts within your own community. As someone who is Southwestern Asian (formerly labeled as Middle Eastern), until recently I've never really felt like a part of any sort of community—the queer community for this sub-group of Queer Southwestern Asians just isn't very big. It's generally always been hard to find others who identify like me. When I do, it's always, "You're too femme, you're to this, too that". It's really frustrating and annoying because I'm trying my hardest to be my authentic self.
I think we can rebuild a home in the community that we're currently taking space in, which is why we have something like Queer Asian Social Club to begin with. I have found my family through QASC and am so much happier because of it. (Shout out to the QASC team, I love y’all so much!)
L: I feel like I've finally built a community that accepts me for who I see myself as and reciprocates that back to me. When I was younger, I never had a community to fit in with. My family always admired Western beauty standards, and I just did not fit those standards. This definitely ostracized me from the family. In addition, the Asian community in my area always invalidated my Asianness which confused me further and prevented me from connecting with that part of my identity on a deeper level. I would try to fit in with the Latinx community because that's what everyone recognized me as, but it was hard to connect on certain levels because it just wasn’t my identity—we had different cultural upbringings. Over the years, I have been able to connect with more people in my community. I feel like humans are becoming more open to experiences they aren’t as familiar with.
Back then, it was uncommon to come across other hapa Asian Americans. Although, yes, I am part white, my ancestors, my ethnicity, and my blood is Asian. It was hard for me to find my own voice to speak up about my experiences, and the invalidation that I went through was rough. I definitely faced challenges when I was growing up, but now, I have finally found my own voice to actually stand up for myself, my ethnicity, and my identity. I am authentically who I am.
Being able to have another Queer Asian Drag Queen in my life has made life so much easier. I truly view Satanna as part of my chosen family and I'm so happy to have them in my life. We have been able to teach each other so much about life and drag. Although we have different backgrounds, it’s just validating to be able to resonate with someone on so many levels.
¯THE LUNA NAUGHTY
A lot has happened this year, comparing the beginning of 2020 to today. What has evolved for you personally? Do you see the world definitely differently?
S: I definitely look at everything differently than I did pre COVID. I feel I'm a lot more socially conscious in a sense—not saying that I wasn't before, but I feel like this time has helped me understand a lot of perspectives and grow a lot. There has been this sense of community justice/communitas that we're all feeling together. What makes it feel so powerful is that it's not just in the U.S. alone, there has been a social shift across the world.
L: I would agree with that, but it’s not just in 2020, the tide has been shifting for the past two decades. I feel like the progressive wave has been growing because I remember being little and feeling invalidated as f*ck in my identities. The fact that people are now holding and having these conversations about racial, gender and sexual identity feels so liberating.
For more of Satanna, follow on Instagram @leonardalyashaa & @satannaqueen
For more of The Luna Naughty, follow on Instagram @thelunanaughty
& check out their weekly ~Celestial Readings~ at the end of each issue of DIS-ORIENT!
This interview has been edited for length & clarity by @thejamielew
1. SATANNA AND THE LUNA NAUGHTY
A collage of Luna (with long blonde hair, wearing a many-strapped red leather harness, hoop earrings, and sunglasses) and Satanna (with long black hair, wearing a black leather harness bra, silver chains, fishnets, and sunglasses) on ripped black paper on a baby pink background.
Satanna with short blonde hair, wearing sunglasses, black latex, a rhinestone necklace spelling out "QUEER", and a black fannypack across her chest.
Luna with long black hair, wearing a latex bodysuit and a black cape. She is holding a magic boook.
4. COLLAGE OF SATANNA AND THE LUNA NAUGHTY
1. Luna (wearing a gold chain harness) and Satanna (wearing a clear plastic body suit) pose like they are on the phone. 2. Satanna (with big blonde hair, wearing a power suit with black gloves) and Luna (with short blonde hair, wearing a black halter and a red beret). 3. Luna and Satanna pose outside at night, a restaurant and marquee in the background.
JAS LIN | JASON VU | KYOKO TAKENAKA
is a performance and experiment in imagining queer Asian mythologies through reimagining our own relationships, histories, and desires.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Black & white photo of a non-binary Vietnamese American dancer in white body paint with a black horse tail. Straddled over a log in the middle of a forest, mouth open with tongue sticking out.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Black & white photo of a non-binary Japanese American performance artist in white body paint, wearing fishnet tights wrapped around their head and a tutu. Balancing on one foot on top of a tree stump with both arms raised, imitating a ballerina with poor technique.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Black & white photo of a non-binary Japanese American performance artist in white body paint starting straight into the camera. They are standing on a tree stump slouched over, draped in a translucent, glittery fabric.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Black & white photo of a non-binary Taiwanese American performance artist in white body paint and a long black wig. They are in a horse stance with their eyes rolled back and charcoal coming out of their mouth.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Black & white photo of a non-binary Taiwanese American performance artist in white body paint and a long black wig. They are posing profile, arching their back with their chin tilted up.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Black & white photo of a non-binary Taiwanese American performance artist in white body paint and a long black wig. They are crawling on all fours on the forest floor.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Black & white photo of a non-binary Taiwanese American performance artist in white body paint and a long black wig. They are crawling on all fours on the forest floor, staring straight at the camera with a smile on their face.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Black & white photo of a non-binary Taiwanese American performance artist squatting in white body paint and a long black wig. They are looking straight at the camera with fake blood coming out of their eyes.
jas lin (they/them) is a performance artist, filmmaker, and movement facilitator committed to the life-long process of un-learning and un-teaching oppressive, Othering, and superficial ways of moving, being, sensing, and knowing.
Follow on Instagram @allthatjasss
Jason Vu (he/them) is a non-binary, Vietnamese-American movement artist and mind-body wellness practitioner based in the New York City.
Follow on Instagram @jasonmvu
Kyoko Takenaka (they/them) is an actor and guitarist/singer-songwriter of the queer multicontinental afro-asia band, ‘Wastewomxn’, channeling diasporic experience and liberation through their work.
Follow on Instagram @jinjabrew & @wastewomxn
A SURVIVAL GUIDE
How to Sing:
BY CHRIS IGNACIO
My mother has always been a fruitful source of inspiration for me.
Her pain plays out onstage like a tragic pop-opera with a canned karaoke score,
costumed in hand-me-downs and sleeveless cotton shirts,
framed by a proscenium arch adorned with jasmine flowers and bitter melon.
She used to be a singer
I imagine her as an operatic diva in her closing night performance
as she struggles to maintain her voice, which by the third act is a garbled whimper.
Her name then seems fitting for this role—Carmen.
She’s an escapist like me. She told me once that she ran away from home when she was young.
She took her dog and drove off in her VW Bug.
When she got a little older she dropped out of college and ran away to America, by way of Mexico.
She used her sister’s identity and crossed the border in a stranger’s car while sipping a Coke and flashing a smile.
My birth certificate still has my aunt’s name on it: Soccorro.
She told me that she came over for the chocolate.
I still don’t know the exact reason she decided to run away to the US.
Indeed she did run away; she never told her own mother her plan.
What I do know is that her voice—the one that could sing all the songs from The Sound of Music, the one comparable to the classic warm American sound of Karen Carpenter, her voice which sang me to sleep and echoed in my dreams—faded away as she accepted her new role as an American.
I asked her recently if she agreed with this, and she smartly said the reason she stopped singing was because she had me. I know it’s only partially true, and that the real reason is incredibly layered and delicate, like a fine pastry you’d rather admire from afar than bite into.
But now, I’m biting into it.
From my perspective, America took her voice away. Much like Ursula with her glowing shell that reached into Ariel’s throat and stole her song and wore it proudly around her white neck.
Except in my mother’s story, there’s a major plot twist where the shell perhaps leaked out some of her song into me. (This is a strange image I know, but let’s keep it. A leaky shell.)
I’ve given myself the task of keeping alive the one thing that has been passed down from my family: the dream of living a life of song.
So far, I’ve successfully worked to make this dream my reality. I’m now working on a new performance piece called, How To Sing: A Survival Guide.
...her voice which sang me to sleep and echoed in my dreams—faded away as she accepted her new role as an American.
My mother has always been a fruitful source of inspiration for me. Her pain plays out onstage like a tragic pop-opera with a canned karaoke score...
I’ve given myself the task of keeping alive the one thing that has been passed down from my family: the dream of living a life of song.
Chris Ignacio is an NY based theatre artist, musician, puppeteer, producer and educator. He has toured nationally and abroad since earning his BFA from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee. He is a Culture Push Fellow, and Queens Council on the Arts Community Engagement Commissioning grantee for his project Co-written, which involves collaborative songwriting with young people of color. He is dedicated to working collaboratively with marginalized communities toward an empowering self-actualization through theater and music.
For more of Chris, follow on Instagram @chrisiggie
1. MOTHER AND CHILD AND THEATER
Old family photo, Mother holding small 1 year old child, smiling. They are photoshopped in front of a photo of a theater proscenium. A background of music notes.
2. PAPER PUPPET
Cut out paper puppet of my mom’s aunt, a famous singer in the Philippines. She is singing into a microphone.
Cut out is photographed inside of a cardboard box with lights on the floor, like a stage
A Celestial Reading
BY IAN SIMMONS-FRANCISCO
aka The Luna Naughty
Life has its ups and downs, which can cause us to be overwhelmed; however, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. The Chariot is taking us on a difficult journey through life. The journey will require hard work, but we will be able to see the silver lining of everything once we reach the end of our journey to the sun.
SEVEN OF COINS (REVERSED)
The Seven of Coins in reverse reflects the feeling of being trapped by all the different ideas you have had. It’s best to move on from your ideas that have not come into fruition. Cut ties with old thoughts and follow the fresh ideas.
You may have been feeling overwhelmed with life and the path you want to take; trust the process of life because it will be all worth it in the end. Rethink your game plan of how you want to create your future—if you haven’t seen much results from an idea that you have been following, follow a different path. I best advise you to write down or talk out the ideas that you have been wanting to explore and the ending you desire. Think out and sit with the different pathways you can take to reach the results you want.
Ian Simmons-Francisco is a happa witch studying different types of oracle reading and psychology. Ian’s pronouns are they/them and in drag they go by ‘The Luna Naughty’
For more of Ian/Luna, follow on Instagram @thelunanaughty
The Anchor depicts an energy that is driven by stability, wealth, security, and material world things. This card wants us to cultivate a protective energy for those closest around us. This is an indication that it’s time to build the future you desire so you can protect them and yourself.
YOU'RE ALREADY GREAT
We hope you enjoyed this week's issue of DIS-ORIENT.
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