Boygenius & Making Space As A Queer Creator 

I was in my last year of bible college the first time I listened to Noah Gundersen. Five of my friends were crammed in my car, when the conversation (that I can’t remember) led Megan to play Jesus, Jesus. It completely shattered me. It was one of those songs I listened to at the perfect place and the perfect time. Five years later, I finally had the opportunity to see Noah live when he was touring in support of his record, White Noise. His sound had changed quite a bit since the days of Jesus, Jesus, but it didn’t matter.  

I begged my partner (who absolutely hates crowds) to go with me, and she reluctantly agreed. The show was at Mississippi Studios, a renovated cathedral in Portland, Oregon. We found a seat on the balcony and we were able to enjoy the show from a distance. Noah was amazing, but I wasn’t expecting the opening act to become my favorite artist of all time.

Phoebe Bridgers had just released her debut record, Stranger in the Alps. It only took one listen for me to become obsessed. A perfect album, the perfect place, the perfect time. I listened to it repeatedly for over a year. When I finally started to feel ready for a new Phoebe record, boygenius (Phoebe, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus) released their debut album as a band. 

I liked the album, but it was their choice of band name that stuck with me. 

Why boygenius?

“We were just talking about different men or boys in our lives who’d been told that they’re geniuses and how that’s actually a toxic way to refer to somebody,” Lucy explains. “But if you think you’re a genius, you probably have the confidence to try something that’s risky or be innovative and so that’s something we were trying to harness when we were recording.”

I think about that interview often. It has completely changed my approach to creating. 

Queer and non-binary folks are not given space, we have to *make* space. It is not freely given or facilitated for us. Part of our creative process involves convincing ourselves that what we’re making is *worthy* enough. Arguably, that’s the case for most creatives, but I imagine the feeling is amplified for LGBTQ+ folks. This is what I’m realizing: the things I make are already worthy because of my unique experience as a queer and non-binary person. I know that when I consume content re: creativity, productivity, or tech, I desperately wish there were more LGBTQ+ folks in those spaces. 

  • Our identities offer us a unique perspective + approach to creativity. 
  • The things we make have value.
  • Our creative lens is desperately needed. 

Query: Going forward, how can our creative process help us feel more in touch with our most authentic selves & our queer identity? 

Here is the interview with boygenius if you’re interested in reading. 

On Sharing The Process

I‘ve been re-reading Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.

His advice: Make the thing you wish existed. It’s perfect advice. But what does it mean for those of us who have a hard time taking up space? 

  • For those of us who are queer
  • For those of us who are living outside of the binary
  • For those of us who are autistic
  • For those of us who have a hard time finding our authentic voice

I live at the intersection of all of those things, and I’m trying to get better at trusting myself and my unique creative process. It’s okay if the outcome isn’t *worth* keeping or sharing, I keep it as a way to reflect and improve.  

After years of telling myself that I’m not writer, I’ve been working on a Queer YA Novel. It’s based on my experiences as a queer and trans person, chosen family, my dad’s death by suicide, and the friendships that save us. I have to continually convince myself that the process of creating is more important than the end result. For now, I am enjoying the process of world-building, and exploring myself through the characters I am creating. The process of storytelling has helped me get out of my own head, and it’s been comforting to find a home for my thoughts and emotions in a fictional story.  A week ago, I had only written about 500 words, and I’m approaching 3,000 now. As I continue to write, the more I understand the characters, myself, and my intentions for the story.  

Tools I’m using: 

  • Field Notes: For manually jotting down ideas.
  • Evernote: So much of writing is just being a good observer and listener. I use Evernote on my phone to quickly write things I’m thinking, seeing, and feeling.
  • IA Writer: I’ve been using this for all of my rough drafts. I’ve found that this is a great tool for stream of consciousness writing.
  • Reedsy Editor: Easily my favorite to use. It has formatting built in and I actually feel like I’m working on a real project when I write. It helps me keep the end goal in mind and helps my ideas feel more fully realized. 

Query: How can we use the process of creation as a way to find a home for ourselves? 

Documentation Inspires Creativity

In the beginning of 2020, I noticed a series of tweets about Lifelogging e.g. keeping track of various data, kind of like a statistical journal. I was immediately intriged, but my attempts at “Lifelogging” didn’t last much longer than a few months. In part, it was due to being a healthcare worker in the midst of a pandemic. I just didn’t have the time or energy - I was trying to survive. But something about the idea of Lifelogging never quite left me. I tend to coast through life fairly disconnected with how I’m feeling, and those few months helped me feel a little more connected with myself and my daily routines. For me, it was the process rather than the end result that was enlightening. How might the process of documentation help us creatively?

In his book Show Your Work, Austin Kleon talks about the importance of being a documentarian. “Start a work journal: Write your thoughts down in a notebook, or speak them into an audio recorder. Keep a scrapbook. This isn’t about making art, it’s about simply keeping track of what’s going on around you.”

I’m not a fan of New Years Resolutions, but a goal I have for this year is too keep better track of my observations through writing, data, and photography. Most of all, I want to be more intentional about sharing about the things I’m working on, even if it is only for me and my own process. 

Query: How can we start viewing tech as a way to groundedness rather than distraction? 
Thank you to Jackson Dame for the Lifelogging inspiration.

Be sure to check out Vestigory when it drops.