I can't pinpoint the exact moment I found Alok Viad-Menon. It happened several years ago but what I DO know is that my life has become exponentially better ever since.

Alok is a gender non-conforming writer, educator, entertainer and performance artist. I would presumptuously add to that: social justice superhero, bullshit squasher, and runway worthy fashionista. Among other divine descriptors of course.

Alok was once one half of
DarkMatter (a trans south asian performance art duo comprised of Alok [...] and Janani Balasubramanian. The two would  regularly performs to sold-out house. [...] Known for their quirky aesthetic and political panache, DarkMatter has been invited to perform at stages and universities across the world. Though DarkMatter ended in 2017, Alok continues to perform globally as a solo artist, producing shows that engage, enchant and challenge audiences. If I had the means to nab a ticket to New Delhi tomorrow, I would.

Vaid-Menon was also part of an HBO documentary last year called The Trans List and hasn't stopped kicking immeasurable amounts of ass since.

I find myself enthralled with Alok's online presence for a multitude of reasons, a few of them are listed here in no particular order because this sort of magic really cannot be ranked:

  1. Eloquent reminders about (approximately) a bazillion critical issues that we all need to be aware of, actively engaging in and work towards irradiating.
  2. Effortless style that I would be willing to sell all my belongings for the chance to master.
  3. Their biting political humor. Alok address important issues with seemingly effortless wry and unapologetic "nail on the head" hitting.
  4. Their constant reminder that socially constructed genders are bullshit.
  5. The best lipstick colors applied with unprecedented precision.
  6. Poetry. Beautiful poetry. Beautiful, political poetry.
  7. Uncensored and raw documentation about what it's like to navigate this fucked up world that remains relentlessly committed to to racism and transmisogyny.

    Do not bury your head in the sand when it comes to this. Listen. Read. Do better. Support.

Each exquisite photo below is followed by a quote from Alok's Instagram (follow!) and each sentence is filled with wisdom, honesty and essential messaging.


What is becoming increasingly apparent to me is that trans women & femmes of color are only invited in the room to share about our "journeys" and not about our ideas and politics. part of transmisogyny is the reduction of trans life to *experience* and not *intelligence.* the idea here is that trans women & femmes lack the capacity to comment on larger structures and can only speak about ourselves. what this does is make transfemininity something assumed to be shameful ("tell me more about how you came to accept yourself!" read: why would anyone want to be like you). what this does is make this thing 'gender' and especially this thing 'gender non-conformity' only the domain of trans femmes -- a logic which hurts us because we become minoritized even though others also have genders and femininities. 


I don't want to be a woman I just want to be free / I don't want to be a man I just want to be me 


"Q: How can art be used to critique and challenge politics?
A: Darling if it's not critiquing the establishment, then it's not art—it's propaganda! If we have to ask how to make political art then we have to ask a more basic question: Should we be making art to begin with anyways?" 

-from Out Magazine interview
Maybe she was born with it, maybe she doesn't believe in gender essentialism.

One of my favorite quotes of all time:

Do you accept trans women & femmes when we are not fabulous? when we are not dressed impeccably? when we are not wearing dresses or skirts or makeup? when we are not wearing anything at all? do you look at our nudity and see masculinity? when we say "i am not a man," that means this body is not a man's body, this hair is not a man's hair, these genitals are not a man's genitals, these hands are not a man's hands. or is your acceptance of us dependent on how much we inspire you? is your inclusion of us contingent on how much we look like you?

I literally keep on being chased out of women's bathrooms. but today my friend stood up for me and said, "no they can stay" and i defiantly took (a) selfie to remember what it looks/feels like when cis women show up for #girlslikeus


Constantly immersed in everyone and everything. and what my research has shown is that you are exquisite precisely because you are strange.

(via + via)

It's ok to break the rules sometimes (most of the time): socks with sandals, shorts in winter, clashing prints, clashing genders, assimilation, trump's racist & transphobic policies to list a few...


2017 is the year of refusing to accept the systematic denial & denigration of gender non-conforming people. this requires actively combatting any ideology, orientation, desire, or strategy which relies on the idea that there are only two genders and that these states of being must inherently be oppositional. how can we rally for the dissolution of walls and the permeability of borders and maintain the collective fiction of the gender binary? what would it mean to take upon ourselves the mandate to challenge not just *sexism,* but gender binarism -- to recognize that gender non-conforming people experience the brunt of the chaos without a discourse to legitimate it, let alone stop it. this means saying *cis* women's right's when we say "women's rights" and are just signifying cis women. this means saying *binary* trans people when attempts at trans inclusion only include those trans experiences. this means moving away from simplistic ideas of patriarchy just being about male dominance toward patriarchy being about the maintenance of the binary gender system itself. are we ready for what that entails? are we ready to embrace gender non-conformity beyond its aesthetics for its politics? are we ready to name and actively challenge the ways in which we have been taught to desire 'masculinity' OR 'femininity' and not those who unsettle both? are we ready to challenge the ways in which sexual and gender identities rely on the denial of gender variance and fluidity? or will we continue to sit back idly and watch gender non-conforming people suffer to the delight of both the Right and the Left? the right and the left arm believe they are not of the same body -- so when they come together to approach a neck i suppose they have different intentions. but the outcome is always the same. but the outcome is always the same.

(via + via)

Valentines Day TRUTH:

I want a world where friendship is appreciated as a form of romance. i want a world where when people ask if we are seeing anyone we can list the names of all of our best friends and no one will bat an eyelash. i want monuments and holidays and certificates and ceremonies to commemorate friendship. i want a world that doesn't require us to be in a sexual/romantic partnership to be seen as mature (let alone complete). i want a movement that fights for all forms of relationships, not just the sexual ones. i want thousands of songs and movies and poems about the intimacy between friends. i want a world where our worth isn't linked to our desireability, our security to our monogamy, our family to our biology. i want a world where femininity doesn't have to be validated by masculinity to be desirable. i want a world where femmes can hold each other say, "you are enough." no, say: "we are enough."

(via + artwork by Skreekos)

Woke up to literally hundreds of comments on my photos telling me to kill myself, that i am degenerate/cancerous/diseased, that i should be exterminated, that i have escaped from a mental institution and need to be hunted down, that i am a clown. good morning to you, too! just a snapshot of what it looks like to be gender non-conforming online -- and the worst part is that this wrath doesn't just come from cisgender straight people, it comes from everyone else too. a persistent and numbing recognition that are bodies are stolen from us for their insecurities -- that gay progress, feminist progress, and trans progress require the denigration and mockery of people like me. these things are not theoretical, they are real and very, very scary. I'm just feeling sad and exhausted because the violence is never going to stop because i'm not a man or a woman. 😢

This is the story of a girl who cried a river & drowned the whole world because of transmisogyny

You can find Alok on their Facebook, Instagram (my favorite), and Twitter. You can also read their writing here, see their gallery and videos here aaaaaaaaaaand if you want to support their priceless work they do, you can do so here. You can also purchase their "Femme In Public" poetry PDF here. It's $6... what are you waiting for?

Thank you Alok for allowing me to share some of your radiant contributions on this platform. The world is a better place with you in it.

P.S. You can check out other amazing crushes here!

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