Velvetpark's Top 25 Queer Women of 2015

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Velvetpark's Top 25 Queer Women of 2015

Even as we celebrated the newly won right to marry for same-sex couples, it’s important to note that, as far as rights go, marriage can be something of a mixed bag. A former Guggenheim Fellow and a law professor at Columbia, where she heads up the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, Katherine Franke has long been a voice for continuing to protect and celebrate, alongside same-sex marriage, the relationship structures that evolved over the course of the struggle for gay rights—namely, civil and domestic partnerships. Her new book, Wedlocked: The Perils of Marriage Equality, released in November, compares the contemporary struggle for marriage equality to “the experiences of newly emancipated black people in the mid-nineteenth century, when they were able to legally marry for the first time.” In exploring the way that the legal construct of marriage tends to reinforce race and gender stereotypes, Franke continues to do important work in challenging the politics of assimilation.

21. “Healing Our Communities” – Cara Page, activist / organizer

A healer and a black queer feminist cultural organizer, Cara Page has worked for two decades for queer and trans liberation, as well as reproductive, racial, and economic justice. A longtime participant in the National People’s Movement Assembly and the former National Director of the Committee on Women, Population and the Environment, Page continues to engage in community organizing with the goal of creating “cultural and political spaces that honor our leaders, movements, communal legacies, and mobilize transformative spaces for the safety and well being of our communities.” In addition to her work through the Audre Lorde Project, she is also the co-founder and former Coordinator of the Kindred Collective, a southeastern network of healers, health practitioners and organizers working to heal violence by the state and collective (generational) trauma.

22. “Post-Punk Meets Prose” – Sara Jaffe, writer / musician

Formerly the lead guitarist for and a founding member of post-punk band Erase Errata, Sara Jaffe is a fiction writer living in Portland, OR. Her work has appeared in Fence, BOMB, NOON, paul Revere’s Horse, matchbook, and The Los Angeles Times Review of Books. A recipient of fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, RADAR Productions, and the Regional Arts and Culture Council, she is also a co-founding editor of New Herring Press, a publisher of prose chapbooks. Her first novel, Dryland—a coming of age tale about a teenage girl set in the early ‘90s—was published by Tin House Books this fall to rave reviews. Publishers Weekly called it “an exquisite debut,” praising Jaffe’s “fresh, strong voice” and “spare, precise prose.”

23. "Artist in Exile" – Maria Elena González, artist

This cuban born artist is a product of both the Cuban Revolution and ACT UP years in New York City. Her early works were sculptural statements of lesbian and queer visibility, working in leather, plastics, wood and other materials. Since then González's work has become more conceptual and formal in nature defined by architectural constructions inspired by environmental and polical themes. González has been the recipient of the Bellagio residency, the Pollock-Krasner grant, the Rome Prize, and a Guggenheim. This year as the grand prize winner of the Ljubljana Biennial, in Slovenia, Maria Elena González, was awarded a solo exhibition at the Biennial. González filled Ljubljana's exhibition space with her groundbreaking sound-sculpture and graphic series, "Tree Talk."

24. "Lesbian in Ecstasy" – Wynne Greenwood, performer / musician

Queer feminist performance artist Wynne Greenwood melds multimedia components into a cohesive experience which have been featured around the world by the Tate Modern, Whitney Biennial, the Kitchen, Bard College's Center for Curatorial Studies, and On the Boards. One of her best-known adventures, Tracy + the Plastics, was a multimedia art band that found Greenwood performing live as Tracy with videos of herself as the other band members. Since that touring project ended in 2006, Greenwood has focused on place- and object-based installations, although she also released an album, "A Fire to Keep You Warm", and teaches workshops and other programs.

25. "History Detective" – Cassandra Langer, scholar / author

Art Historian Cassandra Langer has been writing and teaching for decades, her previous books include "New Feminist Criticisms: Art, Identity, Action" and "Mother & Child in Art." But what brings her to the fore this year is her recently published biography of the Early Mondern lesbian artist Romaine Brooks. Based on decades of research and newly translated source material, Langer's book not only sheds new light on this important American Artist living abroad but the coterie of lesbians whom she enjoyed her life with. It takes the dedication of scholars such as Langer to reinvestigate previously accepted narratives in order to reveal a fuller account of our LGBTQ histories, pointing out their true import on our culture at large.

Thank you all!