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Uncanny Theological Expressions of Queer Survival from the Borderlands

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Abstract for Online Program Book (maximum 1200 characters including spaces)

Trauma permeates our worlds and marks those it touches with deep blues, greens, and purples that remain long after any physical bruises and breaks have healed. The individuals who survive this violence undergo a transformation, and such a metamorphosis is deeply personal – looking, tasting, smelling, sounding, feeling different and unique for each person. In her work Borderlands La Frontera / The New Mestiza, Gloria Anzaldúa names the experience of straddling multiple identies and speaks to the challenges and compensations that such an existence has on individuals who survive these borderlands. This paper draws on Anzaldúa as a guiding star, and juxtaposes her borderlands theory with other voices who consider the struggles that accompany survival, including the painful realities of death, and the inevitable burden of mourning as someone who remains behind. Through intimate conversations and interviews with queer survivors, trans activists and drag performers, I seek to reveal ways in which spirituality and community manifest outside religious institutions while critically and empathetically considering survival substance use and sex (some work) as sacred.

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