Pride Month: CWW Manager Alex Carrigan on Washington D.C.’s Equality March


I recently moved to the D.C. area for a new job, and one of the things I was most excited about with the area was the opportunity to see and do new things in a large city. Living in this area, I’d be able to see concerts, films, shows of all kinds, and the sort of social activism that I normally wouldn’t see in towns I lived in before. It wasn’t that I lived in places without these events and attitudes, but they weren’t to the scale that excited me.

I wasn’t able to go to the Women’s March back in January. I was in the midst of a move, and driving up to the area was a bad idea. I had to make due with looking at photos on Facebook of people I knew who were able to go, including members of my family. The only other social event I went to was the Climate Change March, but I ended up there accidentally and felt somewhat detached.

When I heard there was a march for LGBT+ rights, I knew I had to go. I knew that no matter what, I had to go. Last year, I started openly identifying as an LGBT man, and that openness made me want to start getting involved. I began watching more queer media, I started to go to LGBT+ events, and I wanted to start expressing myself in ways that allowed me to explore different facets of myself, both heterosexual and homosexual.

Thus, I prepared for the Equality March on June 11, 2017. First was assembling my marching look. I knew there would be people in much crazier outfits that I couldn’t seek to compete with, so I settled for a shirt I got from Charlottesville Pride 2016. I had some beads I got from the Pride Parade the day before (and from other Pride/LGBT+ events in the last year or so), and I had some buttons I got from the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Writers in Resistance reading at AWP 2017. I also had some nail polish for my fingers, mostly cause I like how my nails look painted, and I did eye black with some red lipstick I had, paying slight homage to Shoshanna from Inglourious Basterds.

The most important part of it all (aside from sunscreen, sunglasses, and water) was the sign. I knew I wanted a sign to carry. Signs stood out, signs get photographed in crowd shots, and they’re also just really fun to make. I wanted to make one that referenced queer media, mostly cause I’m a total nerd, but also because I knew these were the people who would understand whatever I put on there. I had spent months going back and forth on what to do. I had considered Venus Xtravaganza’s famous line “You’re just an overgrown orangutan” from the film Paris is Burning, as well as Trinity Taylor’s “I call ‘Shade!'” line from season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I knew pieces like these would be popular and seen throughout the march, but I mostly changed my mind because of my extremely limited artistic abilities. Plus, I saw someone else do the Trinity Taylor one, and they had a much better looking sign.

I finally settled on a line that wouldn’t raise any concern from the elderly, conservative neighbors in the new apartment I just moved into: “Not today, Satan!” The line was uttered by drag queen Bianca Del Rio in season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. For those who don’t know, Bianca is a drag insult comic who has described herself as “Don Rickles, but in a dress, and prettier and not as old.” After winning season 6, she became one of the more known subversive comics in LGBT+ media. No one is safe at a Bianca Del Rio show. Everyone will probably be offended by a few jokes, but find themselves laughing at them anyways. Bianca Del Rio is the kind of person I admire because of her ability to say whatever she wants, make it funny, and show enough intelligence, wit, class, and soul that she ascends most insecurities and can float through the most ugly of situations with her head on right and zero fucks to give.

So naturally, she was the perfect person to emulate for this march. Also, because fire is way easier to draw than a human being.

Getting to the march, I was worried about the responses I’d get on the bus or the subway. Fortunately, everone on the bus didn’t care, and when I got to the subway, I saw more people heading to the march, so I was in good company. I even got to chat with a nice girl named Miriam on the way there. I wish I didn’t lose her upon arriving, because she was a very smart and kind person who would have been a good friend to make at the event. And after all, I had just moved to the area, so I am up for making new connections.

Once I joined the line and we started to march, that’s when the rush came in. I got a taste of it in the Climate Change March, but I really felt it here. I walked with all kinds of queer individuals from all over the country. I saw people from Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and even from outside the country. I saw people who were calling out members of the Trump administration, such as Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, and Jared Kushner.

And like me, I saw a lot of people taking various figures as icons for the march. Not only did I see other RuPaul’s Drag Race queens represented via signs, I saw signs using images of figures like Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, The Babadook, and more. Even the sign I chose resonated with a lot of people. Not only did people ask me to let them take my picture (which allowed me to show off my Bianca Del Rio bitchface), but I also had people look at me and cheer “Not today, Satan!” to which I shouted back “Not today!”

What I also found interesting was the chosen route and how it related to the march. Along the way, we walked past the White House. I could see figures on the roof, no doubt wanting to see if anyone would go too far with the march. People would stop on the march, look out the White House, and chant things like “Shame! Shame! Shame!” The whole way, I could also see notable Washington D.C. monuments like the Washington Memorial, and the Capitol Building, which is where the march ended.

What I took away from this event (aside from a bit of sunburn) was a perfect blend of social activism, popular culture, meme theory, and historical relevance. I saw men, women, and children from all over the nation marching together for the sake of equality and to fight against a system that would try to install a travel ban and would pull out of the Paris agreement. I saw the use of images used in creative ways and to play with the idea of icons.

But what I mostly felt was proud. I felt like every person I saw with a stitch of rainbow on them was a friend. I felt so comfortable and joyous surrounded by all kinds of people who were so comfortable expressing themselves and using that expression to call for change. I saw gay couples holding hands, I say gay couples walking with their children, I saw people of various races and creeds coming together to make a stand. And through all of that, I felt so much bigger than I am, and it made me want to continue to be a part of this community. It made me want to pay attention to these matters, and it made me want to be willing to get out of my home and do something about these issues.

I really hope to do more with the D.C. gay community in the future, even if it’s just going to a drag show in the city. At the very least, I hope something like this happens again next year, because I would love more time to prepare something fun and exciting for the march.

And if anyone tries to stop me, I’ll just say “Not today, Satan! Not today.”

— Alexander Carrigan, CWW Manager


Parts Unknown presents: Amahl Khouri’s play “She He Me” at the New York Public Library – June 22 – 7 pm

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to announce the New York City debut of Amahl Khouri’s play, “He She Me” at the New York Public Library (18 W 53rd St) on June 22 at 7 pm.  Amahl Khouri is a Jordanian playwright based in Munich, Germany, and one of Rita Banerjee’s students at the Munich Creative Writers.

In her documentary play, “She He Me,” writer and director Amahl Khouri describes the complex living situation of transsexuals and homosexuals in the Arab world. She portrays Randa, a transsexual Algerian woman who is persecuted for LGBT activism and flees to Sweden. Omar, a gay man, moves in hetero- and homosexual communities in Amman and talks about expectations in Jordan’s patriarchal society. And Rok’s story begins with his despair at not being able to tell his mother that her daughter is now a son and ends somewhere in New Jersey.  “She He Me” is about discrimination of trans- and homosexual people and about the issue, independent of gender, of what it costs to remain faithful to yourself.  A selection from “She He Me” was published in Brooklyn Rail in English, and premiered in Arabic and German at Münchner Kammerspiele 3 on December 17, 2016.

Parts Unknown will perform “She He Me” at New York Public Library (18 W 53rd St) on June 22 at 7 pm.  The play is directed by Lisa Rothe and stars Andrew Dahreddine, Bianca Leigh, and Rhys Roffey.  Admission is free.

CWW Instructor Jade Sylvan’s “Spider Cult: The Musical” debuts at the Oberon Theatre in Cambridge, MA on June 24!


Spider Cult: The Musical, an original apocalyptic lesbian, fringe, sci-fi horror, burlesque musical, will have its debut at the American Repertory Theatre in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA on June 24th, with an additional showing on June 26th. Written and produced by CWW instructor and playwright Jade Sylvan, Spider Cult is a spin-off from a previous burlesque show called Revenge of the Robot Battle Nuns by the Boston burlesque group Slaughterhouse Sweethearts. It follows Scout, a temptress from Battle Nuns who led the heroes astray into her web of lust, and shows how she became such an evil villainess. This story stars some of Boston’s most known burlesque performers, including Fem Bones, Jane Doe, and Bella Gunz.

Spider Cult will run for four shows on June 24th (at 6:30 pm and 10 pm) and June 26th (at 5:30 pm and 8 pm) at the Oberon Theatre.  For more information on the show and how to purchase tickets, please visit check out more information here.  The musical was successfully funded via Kickstarter.  And here’s an NSFW preview of the show below:

Recommended Reading: Celebrating the LGBT+ Community in Literature

In honor of the US Supreme Court’s decision on June 26 to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, here are a few literary works that celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. – Emily Smith, Curator

“Brokeback Mountain” appears as a short story in Annie Proulx’s Close Range: Wyoming Stories. It follows the sexual tension between two ranch hands, Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, as they care for sheep at a seasonal grazing range. The two finally share an intense night in an isolated tent on the range, then carry on with their lives. Despite both marrying women and starting families, Ennis and Jack sporadically reunite over the course of twenty years. Reflecting on the story, Proulx mused that it explores the difference between who people think they are and what befalls them.


The fairy tale of Peter Pan is retold in Sassafras Lowrey’s Lost Boi – a world in which the orphaned, abandoned and runaways find common ground. Most importantly, the lost bois are trans* kids who were abandoned by their parents or by the failed social services system. In this retelling, Peter Pan is the savior of transgender children. Lowrey, a transgender author, has noted that the story works as part of the transgender civil rights movement in reclaiming mainstream and cultural touchstones.


In Nancy Garden’s controversial novel Annie on My Mind, Annie and Liza meet during a rainy day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and instantly become friends. Though Liza goes to a private school in an upscale neighborhood and Annie attends a public school “far uptown,” the two grow close and eventually fall in love. Because the book was written for young adults and many copies reside in public school libraries, it is often criticized by parents. During one incident, copies of the book were actually burned; however, the novel is so popular that’s it’s never been out of print.


The Hours, a novel by Michael Cunningham, explores the lives of three different women in three different time periods who are affected by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. The first is Woolf herself, the second is a closeted housewife reading Mrs. Dalloway in 1949, and the third is socialite and bisexual Clarissa Vaughan who plans a summer party in 2001. The story structure mimics Woolf’s famous stream-of-consciousness style in that the narratives of each woman often flow into each other in unpredictable ways.

Nightwood is a Modernist novel by Djuna Barnes and one of the first to ever explicitly portray gay sex. The story follows Robin Vote and the characters that fall in love with her: her husband Baron Felix Volkbein, as well as her lovers Nora Flood and Jenny Petherbridge. It becomes increasingly obvious throughout the novel that Robin will never settle down, instead radically favoring polyamory. Many of the characters often seek out advice from Matthew O’Connor, a transgender medical student who acts as more of a spiritual doctor than a physical one.

Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms is a Southern Gothic that follows the life of Joel Harrison Knox and his experience on an isolated Mississippi plantation. Joel struggles to come to terms with his sexual identity, but finds acceptance to be a liberation and not a surrender.

In 1970, Audre Lorde published Cables to Rage, which featured one of her most famous poems: “Martha.” The poem detailed Lorde’s experience coming out as a lesbian and the recovery of a former lover following a car crash. In the poem, Martha’s family arrives and the narrator sends them away, since both women have sacrificed their traditional family lives to have a relationship with each other. The poem also appeared in Coal.

One of Gertrude Stein’s most notable works on sexuality is “Lifting Belly,” which originally appeared in Bee Time Vine and again in The Yale Gertrude Stein. The substantial poem was heralded as a “lesbian classic” and a gift to women who love women. The poem is most notable for its unabashed approach to lesbian eroticism; however, much of the poem consists merely of dialogue between two women.

Giovanni’s Room focuses on the life of an American man in Paris, especially his relationship with an Italian bartender named Giovanni who works at a gay bar. The tragedy, written by James Baldwin, is remembered by the narrator on the day that Giovanni is executed in France. The novel is often lauded for its complex examination of gay and bisexual men; Baldwin himself was an inspiring gay rights figure, since he was considered the leading literary voice of the civil rights movement.

The Dream of a Common Language is a collection of poetry written by poet and activist Adrienne Rich. The book was published in 1976 following Rich’s announcement that she identified as a lesbian; the second section, “Twenty One Love Poems,” addresses love between two women and the cultural need to recognize that love as valid. Rich’s poems also discuss the alienation and disintegration of lesbian relationships in a social climate that regards them as shameful.