On Pride: Laura Mae Northrup

Posted by – June 16, 2022
Categories: Interview

Laura Mae Northrup, MFT

Practicing psychotherapist, educator, and author of Radical Healership: How to Build a Values-Driven Healing Practice in a Profit-Driven World

 

What queer reads were pivotal for you, either personally or as a writer?

Queer and trans people are often lumped together, as though we are all part of one large community. And while that is the case in an abstract sense and we do share something: being marginalized and the target of sexism, misogyny, and queerphobia, we have vastly different experiences in how our lives play out. For that reason, part of my personal and political development has been reading the memoirs of queer people with different experiences than mine. Books like Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, by Audre Lorde, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, by Rigoberto González, and Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee have been critical in expanding my sense of how queerness is experienced. One book that I also hold dear to me is Nobody Passes, by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. A collection of essays from people with differing identities within queerness, it opens up such important conversation around this concept of “passing” that all queer people are forced to engage with at some point in our lives.

As a writer, I don’t specifically talk about my queerness, but the boldness and pride that previous writers have expressed is part of what emboldens me to speak my own truth—which is central to my writing. Queer people are “out loud and proud” because the alternative is silence, shame, and sometimes death. We don’t have a choice but to heal our relationships with what “truth” means to us. Or what it means to be “alive.” In this sense, queer people create a space where we are hyper-alive, living in very full and expressive ways. We express truth with abandon and queer writers are an integral part of what makes that possible. While performance art and temporary queer expressions of life are a huge part of queer culture, books are a way that we can relate to our queer elders/ancestors, and it is a way that queer people who are isolated can connect to a sense of pride and possibility.

How can everyone support queer writers and artists in the face of book bans and anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination?

Buy the books, read the books, and resist the policing of our thoughts via the policing of what information we consume. We have such a distorted and degraded sense of how important art and creativity is in the US. We don’t want to pay artists, but we want to live amidst art. One of the most critical ways we can support artists and queer people is to take a stand against capitalism and support affordable housing. Being able to get married is really amazing. But having affordable housing is a more core need that would immediately benefit the lives or queer and trans artists and writers, who often struggle to meet basic expenses. Sometimes solidarity isn’t glamorous. It can be something as simple as emailing your city council members, participating in local elections, or initiating conversations with your community about how critical it is to end poverty.

What are you hoping to see from the literary and publishing world this Pride Month (and every month)?

More books and discourse on the importance of ending poverty and dismantling capitalism. More resources and education that support the owning class to relinquish power and redistribute wealth. Queer people need safe, affordable housing and access to medical care. And all the queer people who don’t see that as a priority or intimately linked with queer liberation are very lucky to benefit from other societal privileges, but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the needs of the queer people in our larger communities that are in the most need.


About the Author

North Atlantic Books (NAB) is an independent, nonprofit publisher committed to a bold exploration of the relationships between mind, body, spirit, and nature. Founded in Vermont, in 1974, NAB aims to nurture a holistic view of the arts, sciences, humanities, and healing. Over the decades, it has been at the forefront of publishing a diverse range of original books in alternative medicine, ecology, and spirituality, with a pioneering publishing program that encompasses somatics, trauma, raw foods, craniosacral therapy, shamanism, and literature.