Be Kind and Be Loud: A Q&A with AfroQueer Author Tarik Daniels

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Who are you as an artist & human? 
I consider myself an AfroQueer writer. I write to increase visibility of afro queer stories, wants, needs, and challenges as a community. As a human, my number one priority as I live on earth is to spread love and positivity. We live in a world full of clapbacks and pettiness; I strive to bring an alternative mainstream approach in living life. It's cool to be kind. I make art to simply add to the foundation created by queer artists before me who wanted to impact this world through lenses that’re often overlooked and ignored.

How would you describe your artistic journey? 
My artistic journey always begins with a dream. I am a dreamer and all my stories originate from a dream. Some might call it a calling; I consider it a vision of what my work needs to touch on. From the dream begins the writing process and research on paper. I still write everything on paper instead of typing. Writing on paper feeds my artistic hunger while typing is just a means of getting my stories to the people. It might take longer with writing everything by hand and then typing, but it’s worth it. The biggest challenge of my artistic endeavors has always been not relying on the approval of others in the stories I tell. I’ve learned art is not meant to be validated. If it happens, then fine. But you gotta put forth the work you believe in regardless if its widely accepted or not. I believe consistency has been key in sustaining and growing in my creative endeavors. You have to keep creating and keep challenging yourself and your work.

What role does healing have in your creative practice?
Creating art and surrounding myself with art spaces has always been my escape. Most of the time when I write, its usually coming from a past issue or experience that I still might be processing or a present issue or experience that still hasn’t been resolved in my heart or head. Writing allows me to go deeper with those things and most times after I complete a project, I have a better understanding and solution of what to do or better yet, I am at peace with what’s going on or what has happened.

How do art, activism, and wellness intersect and intertwine for you?
As a AfroQueer writer, my whole artistry relies on the intersectionality of activism and art as I strive to tell the stories that affect queer people of color and the struggles that come along with belonging to multiple minority communities that are often disadvantaged, mistreated, and lacking visibility.

What art of color are you excited about lately? (Maybe BeyChella..)
Watching Beyoncé is always inspiring on so many levels. You have to admire her ability to grow and elevate her artistry as well as her pure talent and work ethic. She brings it every time at such high level and you mix that in with her black girl magic and her black power messaging, you have a cultural renaissance woman. She lights a fire under all of us creatives to step it up. I’m also reading a lot of Tarrell Alvin McCraney, who co-wrote the movie Moonlight based on his play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, and I am highly impressed and obsessed with his The Brother/Sister Plays trilogy. Great work and very inspiring.

What are you looking forward to artistically?
I have a new book, No Bonds So Strong, that released on April 27th and I definitely want to ride the wave with this new body of work. I am planning a book tour and want to impact our culture a little differently with literature. I came from so many backgrounds as far as scholarly, community, organizing, non profit work, ballroom, and party kid. I mean you name it, I’ve probably done it and I want to merge all those experiences and find a new lane in telling stories from a black gay perspective by a gay black artist. By us for us approach. Social media is opening doors for us creatives to try different things in getting our work out and I’m ready to explore. Of course, in the future I would love for No Bonds to be a series or a movie. I’m actually working on a new web series now.

What wishes, affirmations, and advice do you have for other artists of color?
I say do work that will shake up the ground a little bit. Don’t be safe. Uncomfortable is where the work is needed. Those who are denying great quality of life for queer people of color are not quiet. They are making a lot of noise and we must do the same. Be loud in your art. Be loud in your message. It’s just not the time to be quiet or passive.

Anything else you want to share?
Love life and being kind is cool!

You can learn more at mistertelltales.com and on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram

more about the artist:
Tarik Daniels is a AfroQueer writer from Detroit, Michigan. He has written and produced four plays, THE COUNSELING SESSIONRose University, STIGMA, and PrettyBoy Realness. His writings focuses on telling stories about the realm of intersectionality and the bondage of queer people of color. Tarik founded and serves as Executive Director of Whatsinthemirror?, a social movement that provides mental health awareness and suicide prevention through art and advocacy to communities of color.