In the Spotlight

All My Safe Spaces Are Dead

by Tiffany Niles in Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

“All My Safe Spaces Are Dead” is a look at the upheaval and restructuring of my sense of self. My sense of safety is a horizon I never seem to reach; a mirage that morphs into something new once I tear my gaze away from its lies. Yet I wake up every morning looking for it, craving it, being unable to live without it. This is my hunt for a place to call home. […]

Latest Podcast Episode

Current Issue: Issue 20 | Summer 2020

Being Latina/o/x Series

To the Border Crossers: It’s Time to Start Biting Their Tongues Instead of Ours

On 8 March 2019, I was the keynote speaker at “Cruzando Fronteras”—an event on immigration and border crossing, hosted by Central Americans for Empowerment (CAFÉ) at California State University, Chico. My speech tackled the role of storytelling as a tool of empowerment that can disrupt the status quo, confront caricatures, change politics by first changing culture, and help shape new paradigms. Here is that speech. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Four Poems

While love seems to be the most common quality of a happy life, our first exposure to love starts in the home. These poems exemplify the influence parent-child relationships have on one’s experience of self-love and even romantic love. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Tell Me If This Hurts

“Tell Me If This Hurts” portrays the gruesome aftermath of a sexual assault. From being insulted by the police, re-living trauma during the rape kit, to finding out the offender was on the force: this story depicts the challenges and pains of being a rape survivor. […]

Creative Nonfiction

All Woman

“All Woman” chronicles the impact of sexual harassment in adolescence through adulthood, and the altered perspective of the world it cultivates. The harassment, however, is portrayed as a reclaimed point of connection, however unfortunate, from which women can bond, heal, and become stronger from sharing experiences and supporting one another. […]

Creative Nonfiction

fleas. & their five life stages.

This piece clings to the life cycle of a flea to process a sexual assault. In comparing the five stages of a flea’s life to the events that occurred, this author attempts to find closure while addressing her nameless yet personally known perpetrator directly. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

Howling to No One in Particular

“Howling to No One in Particular” is about a break up. Mostly it’s about losing perceived individuality in couples, hook-up culture, loving someone until you stop seeing them, and an MTV reality show. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Planting Seeds

Two decades after a newlywed suggests divorce, she writes a letter to her ex-husband, both an apology and an explanation for what she couldn’t understand at the time. Their son is now the age she was on that fateful night, in a sweltering bedroom in her mother’s apartment, waiting for her husband to come home. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Remember to Forget: A Coping Mechanism

During a poetry open mic, Angelia Saplan explores the relentlessness of trauma and the elusiveness of the act of remembering. As she revisits her childhood sexual assault at the hands of a family member, she confronts its harrowing repercussions on her relationship with her mother — and herself. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

The Way Things Are Supposed to Be

After a potential lover rejects him for being trans, Kieran DeMelfi is faced with the powerful contradiction between begrudging the man’s callousness, and the attraction he still feels for him. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

Scales

Referencing some chimeric composition of fish, eczema, and weight, “Scales” is a personal essay exploring the swimming pool as a liminal space where the water’s distortions allow its pubescent narrator to linger outside heteronormative perceptions she doesn’t yet have the vocabulary to understand. […]

Columns

Apart, but Together for Change

We are standing on a fault line. We’re at what can become a historic crossroad and turning point, or simply a return to the status quo … a status quo that will only continue to degrade our planet and the vast majority of its inhabitants. Our soil is ready for a new harvest. Our seeds need to be watered. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

Dear Boy Who Will Stick Needles In His Thighs on Fridays

Tyler Dalzell writes a letter to his younger self, the one who’s about to undergo hormone therapy treatments. In it, he tells himself to be gentle, as he will, during his transition, find a shifting sense of Self, uncertainties about his changing body and, in the most unexpected times, slices of joy and unconditional love. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

Three Poems

In “A Study In Plants”, “The Image Surprises”, and “When I Was A Boy”, yearning takes center-stage as Sarah Sala comes to terms with loving and/or losing the women in her life: this includes deceased great-grandmothers, estranged sisters, the woman she loves and marries, and herself. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

Unlade

“Unlade,” a braided essay, unpacks the legal ruling allowing same-sex marriages to be recognized throughout the United States in the midst of Cie moving into a new apartment. There, unknown and without a center, Cie uses music and Pixy Liao’s Experimental Relationship photography collection to reflect on and explore sexuality. […]

Creative Nonfiction

On Writing My Grandma’s Story & Reading It Back to Her

When Brooke Randel wrote her grandma’s story, she never thought she’d have to read it to her too. Randel explores how writing about her grandma—a Holocaust survivor who never learned to read—helped patch the distance between them and bring a well-kept family secret out in the open. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

I, The Universe

The narrator struggles with coming to terms with his identity as he grows up in a sheltered village in rural France. The story takes the format of a mock-scientific theory presenting evidences before reaching a conclusion, through the metaphor of the universe and space. […]

Being Mixed-Race

Five Cent Secret

After a beloved grandfather dies, long held secrets come into sharp focus. “Five Cent Secret,” by Court Castaños, explores the complexities of having both white privilege and Mexican roots. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

Love Letters

“Love Letters” is a story about Atash Yaghmaian’s life as a queer teenager in post-Revolution Iran and a funny but painful love triangle. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

A Monologue About Coming Out to my Iranian Dad

As a teenager, Sarah Lotfi didn’t yet have the words to explain her sexuality, nor did she conceive that she could ever live as an out-and-proud queer person, so she relied on queer media. She underlines the dissonance between Iran’s harsh persecution of homosexuals and a young Iranian-Canadian’s innocuous coming out story. […]

Being Mixed-Race

California

“California” captures the experiences of a young multiracial girl as she watches the white world of her mother and the Japanese-American of her father collide. On a summer evening, she begins to understand why her parents chose to make a life for their family in a small town. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Into Eros

Drawing on her experience of intimate partner abuse at 15, Zoë Brigley considers the possibility of sex after rape. Anne Carson’s assertion that Eros is “the biggest risk of your life” takes on a new meaning within legacies of trauma, and on a quest to rediscover desire and healing. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Four Poems on Latinidad by Anthony Orozco

“Encantado” — An ode to Boricuas, who showed up en masse to the first Puerto Rican festival in Reading, Pa, in over a decade. The city’s first Latino mayor was freshly elected, the aftermath of Maria is behind them, and they continue to grapple with the perception of being not “real Americans. // ”mano a mano” — A call for unity, advocacy, and pride among Latinos. It honors the massive contributions and hidden hardships of our people. The poem momentarily erases our cultural, national, and class barriers to connect us as one. // “Conquest” — Written and performed with the oral tradition in mind, it is a vulnerable and visceral defense of mixed-race, mixed-culture people. When people try to control what Latinidad means or looks like, though they do not know the multi-cultural and sordid past of Latin America, this poem is used to refute claims of “not being Latino” enough. // “Land of the Cinder Block” — Also written and performed with the oral tradition in mind, this piece is an ode to my father’s homeland of Chihuahua, Mexico. It examines the state’s dual nature of being equally beautiful and perilous, of being sacred and frightening. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 25: Round-Table Discussion on Race

Nasiona podcast producers and editors Aïcha Martine Thiam, Nicole Zelniker, and Julián Esteban Torres López explore why it’s so difficult to discuss race, how race differs in different countries, race in publishing, share personal anecdotes, and give our take on Jordan Peele’s “documentary” Get Out. We also have a post-production conversation about The Nasiona’s Being Mixed-Race podcast series: what hit home for us, what we learned, and what surprised us. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episode 24: Tono Latino

Today’s guest is the founder of Tono Latino, Sylvia Salazar—a Colombian immigrant and a computer engineer turned political activist. She is determined to change Latino representation in politics and in media. Tono Latino is a progressive platform that informs and educates Latinos about politics in the United States and encourages them to become more involved and vote. Why should the Latinx community get more politically involved? What are the potential consequences if we do not? Listen to find out. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

The Audacity to Live

“The Audacity to Live” is a personal essay that centers around Alondra Adame’s experience as a daughter of immigrants and as a queer woman of color wrestling with her parents’ expectations while learning to become independent and navigating higher education. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episode 23: Traces of Home

Filmmaker Colette Ghunim on her first feature-length documentary: “Traces of Home tells the story of what happens when we as first-generation Americans go back to our roots to find out how where we come from shapes our identity. Through Traces of Home, I am telling my own personal story. I’m half Mexican and half Palestinian and both my parents were forced to leave their homes as children, and they both never returned since then. So through my film, we’re going back to Mexico and Palestine to try to find the original houses and to talk about why people are leaving and immigrating and why refugees are leaving as well, during a time when we need to hear it the most.” […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Cruzando Fronteras / Crossing Borders

Why would anyone want to take on the treacherous task of crossing (multiple) borders? Poets Alondra Adame, Eva Gonzalez, Gustavo Martir, David Cruz, and Diana Castellanos share their personal stories on crossing borders and immigration during “Cruzando Fronteras,” an event that provided a safe space to talk about the seeking of refuge. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Breathing Lessons

After a racialized exchange with a doctor at a walk-in clinic, the narrator of “Breathing Lessons” examines the way she has been perceived as a mixed-race person; one constantly barraged with the question of, “What are you?” False binaries are explored in this deeply personal meditation. […]

Creative Nonfiction

The Shulamite Woman

“The Shulamite Woman” places the author’s personal experience growing up as a woman in a fundamentalist evangelical non-denominal Protestant church that enforced purity culture, and the lasting psychological and emotional trauma it caused, in juxtaposition with an alternative reading of the biblical book Song of Solomon. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Barbs on a Wire

The first time we three are together and Dad says, “Hey, Hon”, both our heads turn to him expectantly. Of course, he means her. I blush, embarrassed by the demotion. Confronting and exposing childhood sexual abuse—like walking a barbed wire. […]

Creative Nonfiction

800,000 Clenched Cervixes

Childbirth is often heralded as one of the most amazing and profound experiences a woman can have. But what happens when the birthing mother has been sexually abused? Lan Tran shares her experiences, shadowed by trauma, of birthing naturally and via C-section. […]

Creative Nonfiction

The Tree is a Body

Disassociation. Panic. Looking back and freezing. Moving between nude art modeling, trauma, and becoming a tree. How do we ignore the way our body hurts when we don’t move it? How do we let other people look at our bodies? […]

Creative Nonfiction

On Suffering

The girl sweeping cedar chip insulation in the bitter cold of winter becomes a teenage girl drowning in the heavy metal that seeps through the wall between her room and her brother’s. While drunk at a house party, this malcontent teen confronts the man who stole her innocence. We leave the girl pondering her fate spelled out in a fortune-teller’s tarot cards. Will she alter her doomed journey? […]

Creative Nonfiction

in which a woman closes, then opens, a door

The piece considers the aftermath of trauma in the context of a woman revisiting her childhood. It weaves together personal narrative with a meditation on temporal displacement in La Jetée (1962), to consider how trauma creates temporal vertigo – and ties us to the past whilst simultaneously alienating us from it. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

When Jesus Meant More Than Me

A story of a young dyke in the early 1970s, in Tampa, FL, whose mother’s religious beliefs have led to her being disowned. Making a life and new family for herself, the protagonist desperately tries to live with the monumental loss and the events endured over her sexuality. Her efforts to find peace are overshadowed with her own debilitating issues with alcoholism, drugs and mental health. Issues, resulting from a childhood lost to her mother’s madness and religiosity. The story focuses on a particular night at the local gay bar when said mother arrives unannounced and demands an audience with her child, in a last-ditch effort to save her soul. A furious, yet heartbreaking. exchange, grown from all that’s been done, occurs in the bar’s parking lot. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Flood

Remembering the pakhlava her Armenian medzmama used to make, a granddaughter ponders the miracle of this bit of ancestral wisdom dipped in syrup enduring her own family flood. Pluck, a certain string of nucleic acid bases and the myth of Noah’s Ark collide in this stitched-together story of survival. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

Crush

Jenny Ferguson discusses what it means to crush as a demi-sexual adult, and takes readers with her to a black-tie wedding in Malibu, CA, days before wildfires burned 96,949 acres. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Origin Story

“Origin Story” is a short memoir that spans from my birth in Iran to my present day living in Spain, focusing on key moments that shaped my understanding of my own status as an immigrant. My story is an evolution; from victimization and self-hatred, to fighting angrily and finally to acceptance. […]

Creative Nonfiction

That time I made yoghurt blankets and called it The Habit

Can you find control within the luminosity of an eating disorder? As blended ingredients cadence from her mouth, Cara holds on to The Habit like an anchor. For her, co-existing with bulimia pulses her between posturing and shame as she lives alongside the pulls of anxiety, OCPD, addiction, and a need for social belonging. […]

Creative Nonfiction

The Right Pronunciation

“The Right Pronunciation” focuses on adjusting to the US as a new immigrant, the push to achieve Whiteness and assimilation, and the pronunciation of my name as a key part of my South Asian identity that I am now reclaiming. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Firsts

This piece explores the stereotypical “firsts” we romanticize—first kiss, first date, first time having sex—and how those firsts are distorted by the violence and threat of violence prevalent in rape culture. Rape culture then introduces young people, and especially young women, to new, terrifying firsts. […]

Creative Nonfiction

The Space In Between

Food is tied to cultural identity, both of the land I left behind and of the land I found. I am outside the love of pumpkin pie, a common Canadian dessert, and I am outside the love of durian, a common Vietnamese delicacy. I exist in the space in between these two cultures as no amount of food, no matter its origins, may fulfill the ache deep within, the ache of otherness. […]

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