My Beauty Is My Fight

by | May 1, 2023 | 1 comment

I am an artist. My media is mostly acrylic paints, but being an artist means so much more than putting something on a canvas. Being an artist means I see the world in a completely different light, all the time. Instead of just seeing a person standing, I notice the angle of their body, the intensity of their shadow, the way shapes overlap on their face. I notice subtle changes in hues and value, how one thing can appear to be in front of another. I notice the way other people present themselves to an artistic world. I cannot escape from being an artist.

I would not be the artist I am today without influence from thousands of other artists before me. My favorite musician, David Byrne, has a quote that I think about often because it really resonates with me. During his Broadway show, he takes a break from singing and addresses the audience directly, saying, “Objectively, I could never figure out why looking at a person should be any more interesting than looking at any other thing: a bicycle, or a beautiful sunset, or a nice bag of potato chips. But yeah, looking at people, that’s the best.”

Quigley
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DCHS Wildlife Center

Looking at people is one of my favorite hobbies. I can never stop observing people, seeing not only their bodies but their minds, their stories. I see beauty. I see joy. Everything in my life has led me to learn how to see, feel, and promote joy. I cannot see the world in this way and not see how beautiful it is. Every blue winding river and sunlight-soaked day, every human, regardless of color, shape, parts, or ability; all of it is beauty and all of it is joy.

While I see beauty, and the people who I love see beauty, some do not. Unfortunately, it seems that only the latter’s voices are amplified in the media. Social media and news outlets are flooded with stories about the negative societal consequences that come with being LGBTQ+, especially being trans. Seemingly non-stop headlines of people being murdered, murdering others. There has also been a sharp increase in anti-trans legislation in the past few months and years. The reasoning for these bills, the ones that rob us of healthcare, is that it will shield children and protect them. Human rights and societal progress are being taken away in the name of protecting children from the ugliness that is the LGBT+ community. But I am a child, too. And I am not ugly. I am not protected by those who write these bills, those who say they only intend to save me. The ones who actually protect me, the ones that show me beauty and allow me to cultivate my own, are my loving friends and family. This includes my chosen family I have found on GSAFE’s Youth Activist Council. Throughout the past two years of Zoom meetings and weekend retreats with young people from all over Wisconsin, I have grown so much as an activist and person. Just as YAC has grown since I joined in its inaugural year, I have grown into my gender and sexuality, as well as my optimistic view of the world and future.

MKE Pridefest 2024 - block
DCHS Wildlife Center
Quigley

Optimism fuels my life and my fight. Because of those who claim to protect me while really harming thousands of young people, I must be my own protector. I need to further my own life, because they will not do it for me. My happiness is their downfall. This is why I am joyful. This is why I can’t help but see beauty everywhere I look. This is why I am an artist. Because no matter how hard some people try to devolve and regress, we will still be here and we will still be fighting, creating, producing joy and beauty. My joy, my beauty is my fight. I don’t plan on giving up my fight.  

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1 Comment

  1. your words are beautiful Joey!

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