Trajectory: Then and Now

photo of Trajectory event invitation

Trajectory Event Photo of four performers in the showJune 10, 2017
Thea Hillman, Kendra Lubalin, and Elizabeth Stark curate/present:
Trajectory: Poets, Performers, and Activists Over 40 Talk About Then & Now
LGBT Community Center, 3pm
wheelchair accessible
$10-20, NOTA

Twenty years after the first National Queer Arts Festival, we look back on where we were when the festival was conceived of in the queer 90s and where we thought we’d be. And then look forward to where we are now and where we might go in our imagined and unexpected trajectories.

Thea Hillman, Kendra Lubalin and Elizabeth Stark curate a show including veteran performers Leslie Mah, Meliza Bañales, Eli Lazarus, Aya deLeon, Jennifer Joseph, Ryka Aoki, Felicia Ward, and a surprise star from back in the day. They explore influences, impacts, and transformations, from coming of age to reaching middle age (and beyond) in a very different world. Join the conversation about what happened, what we’ve learned, what’s next and how we make sense–and art–of it all.

Childcare available. ASL interpreting available upon request by May 31; please contact [email protected].

Literary-Spoken Word and Salon-Discussion.


photo of Ryka Aoki Ryka Aoki is the author of Seasonal Velocities, He Mele a Hilo (A Hilo Song) and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. Ryka was honored by the California State Senate for “extraordinary commitment to the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.” In 2015, Ryka was named as one of “11 Trans Artists of Color You Should Know” by the Huffington Post. She worked with the American Association of Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors, and two of her compositions were adopted as the organization’s official “songs of peace.” Ryka has MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University is the recipient of a University Award from the Academy of American Poets. She is a former national judo champion, the founder of the international transgender martial arts alliance, and now teaches self-defense to at-risk queer youth at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. She is also a professor of English at Santa Monica College.

photo of Meliza BañalesMeliza Bañales aka MIssy Fuego is the author of Say It With Your Whole Mouth: Poems (Monkey Press), 51 Poems About Nothing At All (Ladybox Books), and the novel Life Is Wonderful, People Are Terrific (Ladybox Books) which was a 2016 Lambda Literary Finalist for LGBT Debut Fiction. She was a fixture in the spoken-word and slam communities of the SF Bay Area from 1996-2010, becoming the first Chicana to win a poetry slam championship in 2002 and winning the People Before Profits Poetry Prize in 2003. She is also a filmmaker, whose credits include a 2006 Frameline Completion Grant and winner of the Jury Award at TG Fest: The Los Angeles Transgender Film Festival in 2011 for her short film with J Aguilar entitled “Getting Off”. She is currently working on two books, a short film, is a community builder and organizer in the Chicanx and mixed-race communities of LA, and is a Visiting Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego. She lives in Los Angeles.

photo of Thea HillmanThea Hillman is the author of “Intersex: For Lack of a Better Word” and “Depending on the Light” both published by Manic D Press. She lives in San Francisco. For more information, please check out







photo of Aya de Leon Aya de Leon directs June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley. Kensington Books published her debut feminist heist novel, Uptown Thief, in 2016. The Justice Hustlers series will continue with The Boss in 2017 and The Accidental Mistress in 2018. Her work has also appeared in Ebony Magazine, Guernica, Writers Digest, Bitch Magazine, Huffington Post and on Def Poetry. She blogs and tweets about culture, gender, and race at @AyadeLeon and She is also at work on a children’s picture book and just finished a YA black girl spy novel called Going Dark.






photo of Jennifer Joseph Jennifer Joseph has been publisher and editor of Manic D Press since its founding in 1984. Accolades presented to Manic D Press include multiple Lambda Literary and Publishing Triangle awards, and an American Library Association Stonewall award. Manic D’s LGBT titles were recently acquired by the Library of Congress Special Collections division. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Lobster Tendencies, among other publications. She has spoken about her work at universities, conferences, book industry events, and the Library of Congress, among other venues. Joseph has also appeared on CSPAN’s BookTV and on Michael Krasny’s Forumon KQED radio. She lives in San Francisco with her longtime love interest and her rescue mutt, and is the mom of one fabulous young woman.

photo of Eli LazarusEli Lazarus is a single father of one, currently in the very highest age bracket of graduate students at UC Berkeley. He’s an ecological economist, researching alternative welfare and sustainability metrics as a socially-sanctioned way to challenge capitalism, on the way to becoming the first doctor in his Ashkenazi Jewish-Australian family. Previous to his scientific career, Eli has been a musician, writer, video-maker, gardener, industrious activist, and gadabout of questionable means.




photo of Kendra LubalinKendra Lubalin is a coach, a teacher, a writer, and a mother of two. Her essays are fueled by being a trauma survivor and a queer parent to an autistic child.   You can find her work at The Establishment, The Manifest Station, and Mutha Magazine. She recently completed an MG manuscript and is currently writing a YA novel. Please follow her on Twitter and Medium @kendralubalin. To learn about coaching/workshops, or check out her blog, please visit






photo of Leslie MahLeslie Mah is an explorer of life’s liminal grey area. A former punk musician, turned tattoo artist,she is currently learning fine arts as part of checking off her fuckit list.









photo of Elizabeth StarkElizabeth Stark is the host of Story Makers Podcast (, author of the novel Shy Girl (FSG, Seal Press) and co-director and co-writer of several several films, including FtF: Female to Femme, a creative documentary and Little Mutinies, a short (both distributed by Frameline). She earned an M.F.A. from Columbia University in Creative Writing and has taught at the Pratt Insitute, UCSC, St. Mary’s, where she was the visiting distinguished writer, and elsewhere. She co-directs and teaches at and She is currently producing a feature film called Lost in the Middle, and finishing a novel.




photo of Felicia WardFelicia Ward was born in San Francisco. 1953. She lived in the Haight/Ashbury district during the summer of love. Her parents represent the “Moses Generation.” African Americans with the courage to migrate west from the south. Because of their determination, their many decades of hard labor, Felicia grew up surrounded by mountains of books. Think of the little black girl in that Norman Rockwell painting. Imagine a dark skinned black girl standing in a pristine neighborhood. Her neighbors come from many ethnicities and races. All faiths. Felicia writes about families in hopes she’ll save someone’s child. Felicia published her first story in Nimrod Journal, at age forty-two. That year she won first prize for fiction. The Katherine Ann Porter Prize for her short story, “Goodnight Moon.” Her story was also included in the anthology, “Best Stories by Writers Of All Colors,” edited by Junot Diaz. Felicia went on to win a Stegner Fellowship in 2002. She’s always wanted to be Jo in Little Women. Strong. Resilient. A writer. “Be careful what you wish for,” is Felicia’s motto.