“Our Back Pockets”?
The name Our Back Pockets in part references the practice of ‘flagging’ among gay men in the San Francisco leather scene of the 1970s. In this system, wearing a handkerchief in your back pocket let other men know that you were interested in hooking up. You’re a bottom? Hanky in the right pocket. Feeling toppy? The left. The color of bandana signaled interest in a specific kink, and could get quite involved.
The hanky code is now a well-known aspect of queer history, but it is just one example of how throughout time queers of all flavors have devised ways to find each other while safely flying under the mainstream radar. Lesbians in the 1940s sported nautical star tattoos on their inner wrist. The triangle used to persecute homosexuals and other “asocial” troublemakers under the Nazi regime has been reclaimed as a symbol of queer identity and resistance. Today we routinely rely on the little things to recognize our own: nail polish, a rainbow sticker, a haircut.
The objects we surround ourselves with not only communicate with others, they reinforce our own identities and values. When so much of the world is telling us to disappear, daily reminders of who we are and what we stand for become vital. Take a look in your bag (no, really) - consciously or not, the ephemera we carry with us tells our story.
I have always been a drawer, a maker, a doodler. For one of our early anniversaries, I made my partner a small card; she carried that love note in her inner coat pocket for years. When a metamour was getting elective surgery, I made her a congratulatory card which was, in my humble opinion, *hilarious*. Something clicked.
Have you ever met a queer that didn’t like puns? (I think I’ve met, like, two.) But these events and relationships that we celebrate - body modification of all kinds, anniversaries, many different kinds of family - are often sensationalized and taken so seriously. This doesn’t match up with how so many of us experience them. They are accomplishments that are extremely hard won but that can be met with joy and humor, as long as we are among our own. We are not offered ready-made ways to express this type of celebration, we have to create from scratch every time.
Luckily we are good at creating our own culture. It’s what we do. But it’s my hope that by making functional art and offering up some tools, finding your people and telling them you care will become just a little bit easier.
To celebrate queer lives by making art that can be used to create community and sink into the fabric of our everyday.
Art is a powerful kind of magic. I believe this deeply.
I create art for me, for you, for us. So that we feel seen. So that we remember our freedom, and our creative power.
We do not have to take what’s thrown at us.
Queer people have lives worth celebrating and honoring.
A loving, connected community is essential to personal and global wellbeing. Art can help build and sustain these connections.
Despite what we might be told, and despite the efforts of many in power, we have a variety tools at our disposal. Art can be part of building a better, more loving world.
By sharing art that is meaningful to me and my loved ones I can help crack open the hearts of more and more people.
Art reveals truths, and it forges bonds. Especially when art is exchanged and incorporated into daily life, it settles into our psyches.
“It is permitted. I am allowed to ________.”
...fill in the blank.
Fill it in many times, with different answers, until you find something that feels exciting, and calls you into the soft and uncertain unknown.
We get to live in this world, and we get to forge our own beautiful versions of what it means to be human. We get to experiment, and explore.