Kyle Bella; A Traveling Guy with a Mission!

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Queer Embraces:

A cross-genre LGBTQ text that explores the role of ‘home’ in understanding what it means to embrace (and live) a queer life.

Dan Mangini: Kyle, could you summarize this interesting and very important project you are working on?

Kyle Bella: Beginning in May and ending at the end of July, I’ll be traveling around to gather research for a new book project called “Queer Embraces,” which attempts to look at how, and exactly where, the idea of home or place gets complicated for queer people. Using a mixture of personal narrative, essay, poetic verse, and other genres, I intend to travel from the Northwest to Brazil to the East Coast and back West to visit places I’ve lived and/or discovered to be important in revealing queer histories (what I call queerstory) that has been lost in the process. My hope is that this project will serve as the beginning of a larger conversation over the silences and erasure of queer histories that still exist despite all of the advances being made in terms of marriage equality, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and other similar national laws.

DM: This is quite a unique project! Can you share with us where the idea to do this came from?

Kyle: As a young child, I was always drawn to language and creating different worlds. As a young child, I also recognized I was somehow “different” from other kids in ways I wasn’t able to describe at the time. Now, as a 23 year old queer writer, currently living and working in San Francisco, I’m ready to make sense of my queer identity, what it means to be ‘home’, and how experimental forms of writing that work across genres can best represent these experiences. This project was born out of a reading I organized through the Kelly Writer’s House at Penn back in October of this past year, where I invited speakers from Philadelphia, New York City and Baltimore to discuss the idea of “queer shame.” Out of this conversation came the realization that to turn away from the difficult moments of history that we all share is to do a disservice to those who have fought and struggled before us.

DM: Can you share with us your connection to Philadelphia and our LGBT community here?

Kyle: While I am based in San Francisco now, I used to live in West Philadelphia, where I was active with the HIV Vaccine Trial at UPENN, participated in numerous events for William Way, GALAEI and other organizations, and have written actively on queer events for Philadelphia Weekly, Bilerico Project, TruthOut and Colorlines Magazine. Though I’ve since left Philadelphia, my inspiration to look at these lost or abandoned histories is indebted to so many of those leaders who are in Philadelphia, especially Chris Bartlett, who is a big reason why I came to the city in the first place.

DM: Can you share with us some wisdom you have already gained in traveling??

Kyle: In the course of your travels, you learn how to deal a lot with being alone and making your own decisions about things. For instance, when I traveled to Buenos Aires, I barely knew Spanish, but managed to navigate the subway system, find tons of shops and restaurants I wanted to visit, and even ended up meeting this guy from Mexico who was studying in Argentina at the time. Some of the situations you encounter while traveling are difficult or uncomfortable, but you come out of them with ways to solve similar problems in the future.

I also learned the value of leisure in travel. My travel style is one where I’m constantly busy. But the key to keeping busy is not to keep have a destination in mind. Being unhurried, without a specific objective, enables you to really get a sense of how a city feels and moves, because every city has its own unique motion.

I’ve also learned that everywhere, with any person you might meet, there is a story about a city or place that you’ll never find in any history book. This moment when you get to sit down with someone and have them share one of these moments is impactful; these are the moments I search for in my own project.

I find both Kyle and this project so extremely fascinating, unique and important! Kyle still needs assistance with expenses and you can help him achieve his goal and tell OUR story by going to his link! Read more about everything he is planning on accomplishing and help support him in telling all of our histories!

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