On Pride: Jonathon Stalls
Walking Artist, social entrepreneur, advocate for social, economic, racial, and LGBTQ+ justice, and author of the upcoming book WALK: Slow Down, Wake Up, and Connect at 1-3 Miles per Hour (August 2022).
What are you hoping to see from the literary and publishing world this Pride Month (and every month)?
Themes, stories, and approaches that bend, break up, and twist the norms with how stories are told and how they get written, developed, reviewed, published, and promoted. Nothing is tidy and linear. Trying to be tidy and linear can too often suffocate what is true, relatable, and honest. I believe we need things like social media promotion, author support/development, and publicity of books to be more messy, raw, and unfiltered. I would love to see more risk-taking, truth-telling, and raw/fragile “process” made a little more public in how we relate to one another via publishing, writing, and book promoting.
How can readers, communities, and organizations keep the momentum going after June 30th?
Uplifting and promoting LGBTQIA2S+ authors, editors, and creators should be a year-round commitment. We need to dissolve the binaries in our hearts, systems, and relationships. We need to resource the artists and authors who live this tension every single day.
What queer reads were pivotal for you, either personally or as a writer?
When I was younger, The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs was such an important book. My favorite queer author to date is adrienne maree brown. Her “emergent strategy” work moves with me everywhere I go.
What queer reads do you recommend for kids and younger readers?
A few of my favorite kid books that center acceptance of WHO you are AS you are is Ho’onani Hula Warrior by Heather Gale, I Am Brown by Ashok Banker and It’s Okay to Be a Unicorn by Jason Tharp. These books and so many others carry so many creative and poetic self-affirming messages for kids (and adults!). While I haven’t yet read the whole thing, I also really appreciate Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro centering a community of diverse teen identities, races, and backgrounds. I personally carry oceans of anger/intuitive unrest in my body and stomach. It is a storm of emotion related to being endlessly teased growing up, accepting my queer/gay identity, and all the pain/aches of a hurting world. I appreciate when books for kids and young adults name and hold anger in creative, nurturing, honest, and open ways.
How can reading and art express, affirm, or reclaim the unique joys of being queer?
For me, artistic expression (in many forms) helps me to more openly and deeply feel. It helps me to cry, scream, smile, dance, and dream. Each of those realms don’t exist in straight lines. They spiral and bend and reach in so many undefined spaces. Art gives me endless permission to always “be in process”. Reading, alongside art, can help my mind to strategize and even, in small ways, understand the need and role of being queer/gay in this time… in all times. Reading other people’s stories helps me to not feel alone. Reading about the non-linear gifts of nature invites a sense of biological and cosmic purpose for my queer/gay identity. Reading about the history, harm, and pain of what queer/LGBTQIA2S+ people have gone through and still go through grounds me in the ongoing work to fight for and dream of dignity, justice, and love for all beings.
How can everyone support queer writers and artists in the face of book bans and anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination?
I am a huge advocate for people becoming patrons or monthly/annual-supporters of artists, especially LGBTQIA2S+ and BIPOC writers/artists. There is so much in the world that wants to shut down free and professional creative expression. Artmaking, writing, and performing, especially in the US, are too heavily tied to transactional support. You buy/sell the art piece. You buy/sell a ticket to a show. You buy/sell a book. There is so little financial support for all the process that nurtures, trains for, and develops bought or sold art. There is also so little support for anything remotely close to a base salary, benefits, and longer-term savings. Every single day people consume art in ways that change, nurture, or influence the trajectory of their lives. Every single day people who are threatened by certain forms of creative expression attempt to limit, block, or ban said art. Our systems and society do not see or value artists and writers as people who would benefit from or need stable income. We need more people to help collectively sustain those who give their lives to creative expression as their profession. We need more people to help sustain those who dream to give more of themselves to creative expression as a profession. We need more raw, open, and colorful creative expression in our everyday lives to break up the harmful and self-limiting defaults in us and around us. If a writer or artist has inspired your journey, seek a deeper support relationship beyond the purchase of their made/performed art. Ask them what the best way would be to support them on a monthly or annual basis. I am endlessly grateful for my flowing stream of Intrinsic Paths Patrons. They have literally helped me create in ways I never thought possible. I welcome and honor this nourishment.