Every week, I’ll be doing a mini feature on my site on activists, artists, and educators who are doing important things in the world. Like Levar Burton says, the only thing these folks have in common is that I like them, and I hope you do too.
Dawn & I met in 2011, when we were writing fellows together at Lambda Literary Foundation’s LGBTQ Emerging Writer’s Retreat. We were bunked together in UCLA’s tiny dorms, where we each got our own bed, a desk, & a clock radio (which we made use of on the last night, when the entire group decided to have a queer prom &, lacking a speaker, we all tuned our radios to the same station & blasted the volume).
“I brought a juicer!” Dawn announced to me, right after we introduced ourselves. & indeed they had. I escaped cafeteria-room bloat because of them, and I’ll be forever grateful.
On top of that, Dawn’s writing is sultry, hard-edged, and unfailingly sexy. They command the stage with their voice, the flawless dialogue of their characters, and their willingness to be raw.
Dawn E. Dee, folks.
Where can we find your work?
In early 2018, you’ll be able to listen to my new queer podcast, which will introduce & amplify the creative work of queers I know and admire–very much like the work of your #badasscrush, July!
What themes or ideas do you feel your work engages with?
Integrity, gratitude as healing, radical forgiveness, disruption of the status quo, margins, visibility, and the formation of character
What were you like as a child?
Ha! I was then, and I am still: an intellectual, a voracious reader, good with my hands, an athlete, full of ideas, and a risk-taker.
Can you remember the first piece of art– performance, literary, fine, street–you saw/read that wowed you?
It was an illustrated copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Slim and powerful, with gorgeous color face plates and all of that delicious poetry in rhyming couplets! I bet I was about 6 when I started to memorize it.
What work do you do in the world that you feel proud of?
Being my authentic self is many times a whole lot of work in this world. Seriously, I walk around the globe and move through spaces in my body and gender presentation(s) and race without hiding from myself or the world. If that sounds easy, try it some time. I don’t lie to myself, or much of anyone, really. Discovered that the way to get what I want is to help as many people as I can to get what they want. This is work I love to do.
“This, boys and girls, is a lovely example of what I call Sissy Swag.”
What’s keeping you sane right now?
You know what? I started a daily gratitude practice that has transformed 2017 from the devastated wasteland we all inhabited after the election, into an richly textured, verdant panorama where everything in life is Just. Going. My. Way. It’s been a spectacular year for me. In addition to that the art and writing and truth-saying of so many talented voices of action and dissent are giving me much life.
Tell us a story.
Okay, this is glimpse into one of my great strengths and great weaknesses in one story. When I was four or five, I rode a bicycle for the first time, and I loved it so much, that I didn’t want to get off. My brother wanted to “show me” how it worked, but I wouldn’t give it up. I didn’t know how to stop, though.
I kept riding until I went right over the edge of a 6-foot wall, and landed splat on the sidewalk below! See? Hard-headed! Because and AND: I hate mansplainers, and their younger selves, boy-splainers. Always have. I conduct my own research, I take my chances–and the lumps that come with them.
I’ve never been fond of group excursions, I don’t run with a big squad. I love to travel alone because it’s hard, it satisfies my inner recluse and it’s incredibly liberating: full of large and small discomforts. I love being ‘someplace’ on the globe, without a tether. That kind of travel hasn’t felt as safe as it once did, so I started inviting groups of people to meet up with us in different locales, cities or countries. What a fantastic way to give and receive solidarity as well as spend time with the people I love most! Everyone makes their own travel arrangements, because grown-ups. We plan a few common activities, and may eat or stay in the same places, or not. It works, and I love it! This started out as a way to safeguard my black-white, butch-femme relationship–to keep us free from harassments, and it’s turned into a fabulous opportunity for explorations and quality connections, something I don’t ever want to give up!
Dawn E. Dee finds excellent communication erotic, is a writer of fiction and personal essays, and loves to take photographs whenever innovation and integrity go into a corner to make out.