On November 14, 2008, Lateisha “Teish” Green, a Syracuse transwoman, was shot and killed at close range by man uttering homophobic slurs outside of a house party. When the assailant was originally tried in 2009, he was convicted of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime verdict. In 2013, The Fourth Department Appellate Division on Friday issued its ruling tossing out the 2009 conviction on a jury technicality and the assailant was set free. A year after her death, Green’s family and friends held a memorial for her at First English Lutheran Church. In the syracuse.com article about Green’s service, John Mariani quotes Green’s father Albert Cannon, who talks about supporting Green. “For Albert Cannon, Green’s father, the message of the day was about LaTeisha. ‘The message really was, I’m so proud of her because she came out. She lived like she wanted to live,’ Cannon said. ‘Society didn’t accept her. I told her that before she came out: It will be hard. It will be hard.” Cannon’s comments speak the precarious reality of being Black and Trans or Black and queer in this society. According to Samantha Allen and Brigette Supernova’s article in the Daily Beast, trans murders were at an all time high in 2015 with 21 reported by November. In the article, they list of over 20 trans people, most of whom are Black and Latino/a, who have been killed in 2016. The ignorance and rage that killed Venus in 1988 is still alive today. For this reason, I felt it was important to reengage with Paris.
I wanted the focus of this chapter and my dissertation to about appreciated Black queer beauty and genius on its own terms rather than focus on its relationship to White supremacy and oppression. I do not believe that is possible. Larger institutional forces are at work to silence and erase Black and queer people. For this reason, it is imperative to engage with the ways in which Black and queer people have survived. The performers in Paris offer their narratives to the next generation through the film. In this article, I engage with these narratives and discuss how they help us reimagine life outside of static ideas of who we are and what we deserve as Black queer people. Through this article, I want to encourage the field composition and literacy studies think beyond discourse, performance and space as static and to think through how these schemas in conversation with social constructs such as race, class and gender.
In conclusion, survival is the most important theme. I must echo Octavia daughter when she states we must remember that they survived. We must remember that there were Black queer people who wore what the hell they wanted to and defined themselves for themselves even in the face of death. The performers in the film and countless Black and Latino/a queer people have laid their bodies on the line to live free. Marsha P. Johnson, the Black transwoman who started the Stonewall Riots and Gay Pride, immediately comes to mind. Even though she threw the first punch against police when they attempted to raid the Stonewall Inn in 1969, she is often overlooked as the White mainstream gay movement celebrate Prides around the world and continue to Whitewash LGBTQ movement. Paris is a gift from our ancestors and living proof that we as Black queer people have always been here. Paris is proof that we survived. I am left with Corey comments about being remembered. He states, “Everybody wants to leave something behind them -some impression, some mark upon the world. Then you think, you’ve left a mark on the world… if you just get through it…”
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