Creative Direction by Junzhe Tang

Written by Ethan Richmond

Photography by Junzhe Tang and Duc Tran

Model: Joseph Plitt

(THE MAN sits in his studio apartment, smoking a cigarette. Film strips are scattered on his spare furniture.) 

(He picks up one of the strips. If he stares at it for long enough, maybe he’ll have some idea of what to do with it.) 

(He sets it back down. Staring didn’t help. The blank strips are nothing but reminders of his lack of ideas. Mementos to his creative emptiness.) 

(Without warmth, his room shifts. Expands. The walls are pulled back. Given a different color than gray. On them, family photos appear. The windows bulge, growing from little slits until they take up half the wall. It’s dark out, but the warm light of the overhead bulb could fool you into thinking it’s day. The dust that hangs in the air glows. 

(On a couch, in the center of the room, sits THE MAN’S MOTHER.) 

(On her lap, the man sees himself.) 

(He knows instinctively that it is him. Instant recognition. He wants to reach out and say something. Especially to his mother. She’s been gone for… anyway, he can’t. He doesn’t even try. He knows it won’t work.)

(THE CHILD awakes. He looks up at his mother briefly, then puts his head back down on her lap. THE MOTHER taps him gently.) 

MOTHER: You should go to your room. 

(THE CHILD murmurs something.) 


THE CHILD: Why can’t I just stay here? 

(THE MOTHER smiles.) 

(The room shifts again. Now THE MAN is somewhere else. It doesn’t look exactly like how he remembers it – some of the toys are in different places, his bedsheets are a different color. But despite the incongruities, THE MAN instantly knows where he is. His childhood bedroom.) 

(THE CHILD sits on the bed. The lights are still on. He looks ahead  and sees THE MAN.) 

THE CHILD: We haven’t met yet. 

(THE MAN startles.) 

THE MAN: What—what do you mean? 

THE CHILD: There’s Theo, Papo, and Gimbo. We play every day. But you’ve never played with us. 

(Instantly, he remembers. Theo, his stuffed teddy bear. Papo, a lanky, humanoid rabbit. Gimbo—what the hell was he supposed to be, an alien? THE MAN’s menagerie of imaginary friends. THE MAN is at a loss for words.) 

THE CHILD: You look like Daddy. 

(THE MAN doesn’t even want to think about that.) 

THE MAN: I’m… I’m neither of those things. 

THE CHILD: Then what? 

(THE MAN turns the idea of telling the truth over in his head. This is probably a dream. He couldn’t really be here. In this room.) 

THE MAN: I’m you. 

(THE CHILD doesn’t seem surprised.) 

THE MAN: A few years from now, anyway. Well… (he looks around the room) not a few years. A lot—a lot of years. 

THE CHILD: What would I know? 

THE MAN: I’m not really sure what you mean. 

THE CHILD (as if all in one breath): I read this book where a man travels from the future and tries to tell his friend stuff, and his friend made him prove it by asking him a thing about him that only he would know.
(It takes a second for THE MAN to follow his younger self’s sentence. Also, he can’t seem to remember this book. When he was younger, he thought he’d remember every book he read.) 

THE MAN: Okay. (He racks his brain.) Can I show you something? 

(THE CHILD looks skeptical for a moment, then quickly nods his head.) 

(THE MAN pulls up his left pant leg. On his ankle, two parallel scars. Once great, now faded.) 

THE MAN: I opened—we opened the back door too quickly. Wanted to play outside. It sliced open our ankle. It really hurt. Then Dad came out and… (THE MAN remembers his father ridiculing him for crying, mocking him for asking for mother, leaving him, bleeding, alone outside.) Anyway, that should have happened to you by now. 

(THE CHILD grimaces, then pulls up his pant leg. Two much longer lines. A little faded, but still very deep.) 

THE CHILD: Okay. (Suddenly, a burst of energy.) Can we play Twenty Questions? You know Twenty Questions? 

THE MAN: Sure. (He looks around.) Can I sit down? 

THE CHILD: Yeah. Just sit on the bed. But take off your shoes. 

(THE MAN complies.) 

THE CHILD: What am I when I grow up? Am I an astronaut? Am I a firefighter? Am I a police officer? 

THE MAN: You’re a photographer. (He pulls out a film reel from his breast pocket.) And a writer. So, really—you’re all of them. 

THE CHILD: Is Craig still my best friend? 

(THE MAN resists the urge to ask who Craig is. He stands there for a moment, trying to seem like he knows, but is just trying to think of the perfect phrasing. He reaches into every corner of his brain, trying to summon Craig. Finally, he manages to scrape out a foggy recollection. Walking home from school together. Sleepovers on Sunday. Play fighting. Different middle schools. A promise they’d stay in touch. A few Facebook messages a couple years back. Nothing else.) 

THE MAN: You make a lot of friends. A lot of different people, wherever you go. But you’ll always know Craig. 

THE CHILD: Do I still see Theo? And Papo? And Gimbo? Mrs. Wormwood says that they’re gonna go away when I get older. I know they’re not going to. I know she’s wrong. She’s wrong, right? 

THE MAN: Yeah. Of course you do. Especially Theo. He sticks around. Always been more reliable than the other two. 

(THE CHILD mouths out the word “reliable.”) 

THE MAN: It’s—it’s when you can count on somebody. You know they’re going to show up. Because they’re reliable. 

(THE CHILD nods. He was always eager to learn new things. THE MAN remembers his phases of learning, about dinosaurs, sharks, space – rushing home and telling his mother all the knowledge he’d gained, tripping over his own words.) 

THE CHILD: Does Mrs. Wormwood get nicer? 

(This answer comes with no hesitation.) 

THE MAN: I’m sorry, but if anything, she gets worse. How many times has she put you in time out? 

THE CHILD: Five. No, four. 

THE MAN: I think she put everyone there at least nine times. So get ready for five more. Reasons were all bullsh – it’s never for a real reason. She’s just one of those teachers. 

THE CHILD: Am I gonna have more of those teachers? 

THE MAN: Yeah. There’s a lot of jerks out there. But you get some good ones too. (Mrs. Wormwood, that was third grade. Yeah, third grade. Fourth grade, that was a good year. Schuman. THE MAN remembered loving Schuman.) Next year, that’s gonna be fun. High school, you get a lot of good teachers too. 

THE MAN: What else? Any other questions? 

THE CHILD: Does Daddy start coming here more? Does he get more reliable? 

(THE MAN wishes THE CHILD would ask about teachers again. He knew how to answer that. How does he answer this? That day in the car. Mom driving. Dad gone, as per usual. The truck hit the front seat from the side. Not the backseat. It didn’t touch the backseat. Dad making him move away—he didn’t want to leave the house. He was in third grade. So two years from now. Two more years of Mom. Two more years before living with Dad.) 

THE MAN: Yes. You see a lot more of him. 

(THE CHILD pauses. He thinks hard about his next question.) 

(After further consideration, he asks.) 

THE CHILD: Do I do something great?

(THE MAN thinks back to his apartment. Scattered film negatives. A few published photos here and there. Not much to show for his work. For his passion, that Dad berated him for following. That he blew so much money to major in—it would take years to pay all those loans off. No one else in the apartment. No time for a social life. Gotta focus on getting out there, getting exposure. That’s all that matters.) 

THE MAN: We’re going to do great things. 

(Instantly, the dimensions of the room shift again. THE MAN returns to his empty studio apartment.) 

(He picks up a film reel, not wanting to process what just happened.) 

(He knows what his next project is.)




Written and directed by Zaryah Qareeb

Photographed by Emma Cahill

Styled by Angel Woodard

Makeup by Akunna Chiedu

Models: Kay Aluvanse, Melody Smith, Angel Woodard, and Daphne Bryant


Afrofuturism: An art movement that combines science-fiction, history, and fantasy to explore the Black experience and aims to connect those from the Black diaspora. While there exist various interpretations, its essence revolves around the ideas of Reclaiming, Liberating, and Revising the past.

Although the phrase may not be widely recognized, its impact resonates across the digital realm—especially as the younger generation becomes chronically online, wielding the globe at their fingertips. This digital shift has profound implications for the future of Black children. Culture has transitioned into the digital age, and kids are building their own reality. Through the phenomena of TikTok dances, imaginative avatars like IMVU, and the emergence of Aaliyahcore, today’s youth are not only reinventing themselves but also contributing to the richness of Black culture on the internet.

Afrofuturism emerged as a term to define contemporary trends that blended Black literature and 1980s technoculture. Over time, it evolved into a lens for envisioning a more empowering future for the Black community through the mediums of music, art, and speculative fiction—a concept that has been present since the creation of science fiction in the 19th century. However, Afrofuturism rose to prominence in the 1960s, largely attributed to the influence of the avant-garde jazz artist Sun Ra.

From the writings of Octavia Butler and iconic cinema like The Wiz and Black Panther, to music artists like Janelle Monae, Afrofuturism has always lingered in the background of our childhoods. The objective of Afrofuturism is to portray a future where Black individuals harness technology to become leaders of their own worlds, a narrative that’s absent in mainstream science fiction. However, thanks to the internet, this movement is able to continue with Generation Z. 

The concept of Futurism has traditionally symbolized fresh opportunities, yet as a Black individual, I couldn’t help but question where I stood in this evolving landscape. After all, machines are an extension of their creators. The world quickly learned how technology would be used to further the oppression of marginalized voices. We grew up witnessing digital blackface, videos of police brutality, and influencers releasing apology videos for using slurs. Exposed to the reality of the world, we grew up navigating a whole new plane that previous generations couldn’t prepare us for. 

So, like most children, we sought an escape from reality by finding tiny spaces and corners of the internet where we could simply be young and free. Through playing virtual games, creating micro-trends, and building Soundcloud playlists, we used technology to create our own representation, which, in my opinion, is the core of Futurism. Although we weren’t consciously pursuing Afrofuturism, its influence was unmistakable. We still delivered its objective, allowing Black children to see themselves in the new future. 


In a world overshadowed by pessimism, our dreams endure. Despite the challenges, we persist in cultivating our aspirations, channeling our hopes, passions, and creativity into an uncertain future. As we continue to craft alternative visions of tomorrow, the Black youth are now seizing control of the internet, a once intimidating and foreign concept, and leveraging it as a platform to authentically express their true selves. From a long line of dreamers, the youth continue to carry this torch. 

Wall Art of an Ocean

If you trace the contents of a painting— an authentic one you paid good money for— the grooves of your fingers follow the same path the artist made with a brush. Every impression, streak, and divot literally at your fingertips. 

If you trace the contents of a mass-produced T.J. Maxx canvas wall art, the warmth of your fingers will melt the faux brush strokes made out of Mod Podge atop the canvas to give clearance shoppers the illusion of fine art. Warmer, summertime temperatures make these paintings perpetually sticky for the duration of the season, tacky to the touch. Put the wall art in a cramped half-bathroom full of five third-grade boys pissing, it just might start melting off the wall. 

My eldest brother was born in July. His birthday parties had one stipulation: include your little sister who was miserably born in January and never had proper parties.

On his ninth birthday, after presents and cake, my brother and his guests split into two for a Nerf gun battle. The Red Team, comprised of my brother and his absolute best friends, set up base camp in the quiet luxury of his bedroom. The Blue Team, made of forgettable classmates and a seven-year-old girl, found our lodgings in the downstairs half-bathroom. Exhaustive guerilla warfare and failed sieges on the Blue Team’s part resulted in foam bullets to the gut and a somber retreat back to the ‘ol shitter, à la sad Charlie Brown. Conditions in the bathroom were poor, morale was low. The Red Team hoarded our spent ammo in their fortress, and all we could do was wait them out. Surrender was not an option. 

I was stuck in there for well over an hour, hearing the Red Team taunt us by enjoying a second serving of cake, fully knowing their Nerf guns were loaded next to their plates, like Tony Soprano. More waiting. 

The first kid who said: “I have to pee,” prompted an echo of concurrence amongst the boys. The Capri Suns reached their bladders, and rock bottom got lower.  

The rule was while each boy peed, the others had to face flush against the wall with our hands over our ears. It was a pissing contest inside a pissing contest. A turducken of third-grade-boy showmanship, prompting the boys to sneak peeks and giggle. I kept my mouth shut and followed orders, because I didn’t want to be the lame little sister. 

But, I didn’t want to be in that bathroom anymore. I suddenly had no desire to be included. 

I squished my baby face further into the spot on the wall I chose, where the T.J. Maxx wall art hung, ignoring the ongoing bathroom situation. The painting was of an ocean, madly blue in color. I softly swayed my skull like a bobblehead, feeling all the pseudo-brushstrokes of the art with the tip of my nose. My hands never left my ears, and the sound of pulsing blood in my head crashed like waves at sea. Up this close, I only saw blue. I only heard waves. 

Once all my brother’s goons finished their business, I peeled my forehead from the humid painting, like thighs on a leather car seat. The painting stuck to my dewy skin, just enough to sever from the wall and drop a hearty pile of red Nerf bullets onto the tile floor. The beloved T.J. Maxx wall art was my hiding spot from years of having my Halloween candy taken from me and being shot in the ribs with Nerf bullets. I learned, with the right maneuvering, it was possible to shove a bunch of junk behind the painting and have it stay there for as long as I needed it to. We used the ammo to fight like hell until the party ended. 

As I grew up in that house, I used the painting to put things away I didn’t want recovered, not even for myself. Nerf bullets I never wanted used against me. What the neighbor’s son begged me not to tell his mom about. Mascara tubes I took from my mom’s bathroom. Hopes of someone walking by the older boy’s bedroom any of the times he touched me in there. 

Like the child I was, my mind cleaned up messes by shoving it away behind that wall art of an ocean and forgetting it.

Sometimes, like at my brother’s birthday party, the junk behind the frame gets knocked out of place. There are moments in my adult life where I sit up in shock, because something got knocked loose. Something I wanted to forget forever. I see red; rage for what happened to me, but mostly for remembering it. 

Red is the color of Nerf bullets. 

Red is the candy wrapper I hid because I felt guilty for eating it. 

Red is the stain of my mouth from the phallic cherry popsicle I couldn’t enjoy on field day. 

Red is the scrapes on my knee from trying to get initiated into the same club as the neighbor’s son. 

Red was the color of the older boy’s team. 

I don’t care much for red anymore. And I know I loved this painting for a reason. It is blue. 

Blue like the clear, sunny skies back home. 

Blue like the curtains in my bedroom. 

Blue like my dog’s collar. 

Blue like my veins in my skin that’s regenerated hundreds of times over since then; skin that’s been untouched. 

Blue like the fabric softener my mom uses. 

Blue like the ocean. 

I don’t bother peeling the frame to see what lies beneath, instead, I only see blue. I only hear the pulsing of my blood. I only feel warmth. 

I am not what has happened to me.


Monster Under the Bed

Momma, the walls breathe at night and you don’t believe me. You and dad check every corner of my enormous room. You open the closet and see darkness. You look under the bed as it clings to my mattress like moss in a bad, wet cave. You look in all the wrong places. And while you do that you don’t even see the stars you painted on my walls turn into eyes slowly as night fills up the world. Your dragon will protect you, you say. His name is Drelion, I tell you as you wrap him around my neck like a scarf. And then you leave and shut off my light. That’s when the monster comes out. It drops down from the bottom of my mattress. It crawls out from underneath. When it hits the floor it’s like my room has a heartbeat. Then it stands at the edge of my bed. I don’t look. I keep my eyes closed, to make sure they don’t fly out of my skull.

. . .

The monster is quiet. I don’t hear it move but it always ends up right in front of my face, so close that if I opened my eyes they would dry out from his stinking breath. The monster is quiet. I listen to its breath and hear its soft voice. Its starving voice. I’ve heard that voice before. That’s why it’s so scary. The voice is thick like a slow dying tortoise but light like a feather. So light my eyelashes would blow it away as they opened. The monster smells like sour bread and strawberries, a bad smell and a nice smell. A smell that would make dad cry. I think that’s why dad pretends there is no monster because he’s embarrassed to be afraid. I wish Dad would save me but he never does. 

. . .

The monster waits. I don’t know what it waits for or what it wants for. It never touches me, never puts its teeth around my head. Sometimes I pretend it’s ripping one of my eyes out and my eye turns into a blue jay. Sometimes I think it will break my fingers off and eat them like worms, or french fries. I really think it wants to talk to me but I don’t know what it will say. Maybe it will sing me a song. Maybe it will tell me why dad is so sad. Maybe it will tell me about all its bad dreams. But I get so tired from keeping my eyes shut tight that I fall asleep before it can say anything. And when it is morning, I know it’s the monster’s turn to hide from me. 

. .

you talk in your sleep. fight, even. some sleeping dog kicking at air.

the gaps of silence are where i live, then.

when the kick to end all kicks

causes flash of eyelid collision before the breath

the cerebral cortex cerberus vanishes 

into the orange kitchen light strip below your door

then, there i am.

the half caved limbo between the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling and the endless vortex beyond it

draw near, child. your heartbeat sounds like boiling water.

you can’t remember. you can’t remember any of it.

you know the answers of my existence and you locked it away,

you’re imagining my face, and you’re right. the stories were all right in their own way. 

but none of them mentioned how i exist for you.

Draw Near.

is it my heartbeat or yours? is it my fear,

or yours?

i hope you’re afraid. and that you still fear death.

that the hope hasn’t left you.

that mind-made castles and creatures protect you from me.

you think this is scary?

imaginary creatures in crevices collected

like stuffed animal items in a kids shopping section

you think this is scary?

curse words encrusted in the cracks of your mothers favorite plate

an accident, an honest one

you think this is scary,

but in my world we have colder commonalities.

drelion, your great and mighty dragon is loved as long as he is known.

hold him tight.

your under-eyes will slowly betray you and the light in the back of your sockets will dim.

you think paralysis is the worst of it

you think you know


you haven’t even experienced its true form.

your father fears the foundational morals of the stories that created me.

those stories, fables fighting for their place on withering page-staples

loved as long as they’re known.

a hyphenate of maturity.

i smell your fear and there’s no way to remove it.

draw near, child,

 listen to the words in your head

the six-foot-buried memories encapsulated by a halo of fantasy

i exist to warn you.

Girl Experimental

Written by Kimstelle Merisma

Photography by Khatima Bulmer

Models: Mithsuca Berry and Bev J

When I was younger, I was a DIY baby through and through. Any free moment and access to the internet I had was spent looking up how I could craft things with my hands: doll outfits out of my old clothes, jewelry organizers out of plastic containers and duct tape, miniature furniture for my Littlest Pet Shops out of empty tissue boxes, makeup out of crayons—you name it. I made virtually anything that the internet promised I could with things I had at home. YouTubers like MyFroggyStuff and LaurDIY convinced me that whatever I wanted—and with whatever I had— I could make it myself. And boy, did I believe them. Very quickly, though, I realized that my love for art didn’t end with the crafts I could make. The resourcefulness I had for art projects started to bleed into all of my other interests. I became enthralled with the idea of being an artist of  many capacities— a visual artist, a writer, a singer, a musician, a performer and more. I wanted to be good with words as much as I wanted to be good with a paintbrush. I wanted to succeed as a singer as much as I wanted to succeed as an actor. I wanted to be everything. I wanted to experiment. I was desperate to do everything I had even a remote interest in, and I would be lying if I said some, if not all, of these things weren’t still true of me today. 









Fast forward to today, I’ve come to the realization that the attitudes I had towards art– the hunger, the resourcefulness, the desire to be multi-talented— are all things that have shaped me and continue to shape me today. This desire to experiment with all of my interests and dive into multiple avenues of expression is something that has not left me, not for a second. And I can’t help but think about how these qualities not only influenced my approach to artistry but also informed my queerness. The word that comes to mind is metamorphosis. Among all the ideas and random shit I was making in my room, I was also making me. Beneath the tattered pieces of fabric and pages ripped out of my notebook, I was discovering who I was and what I liked, as well as what I was and who I liked. While I was on the floor of my childhood bedroom and accidentally gluing my fingers together with hot glue and getting glitter under my fingernails, I was becoming. 

I had the honor of meeting and interviewing two queer Haitian artists I admire: costume designer and fashion artist Beverly Joseph and visual artist and storyteller Mithsuca Berry. I got to ask them about their experimental childhoods and how they’ve informed both of  their identities and artistries today. They had beautiful, insightful things to say about their childhood obsessions, their Haitian upbringings and their queer discoveries.  


Beverly was born and raised in Haiti and lived there until they moved to New York City at the age of nine. Two words Beverly uses to describe themself are versatile and adaptable. While talking about their favorite pastimes in childhood, they recalled not having access to a wide range of toys but making do with what they had. (A common thread for Haitian kids, huh?) She spoke about how, like me, she had a lot of fixations in her youth and experimented with several hobbies such as writing, reading, illustrating, coloring with their mom’s lipsticks and eventually finding a love for fashion. Along with these various hobbies, something else that drove Beverly’s upbringing was her curiosity. They recalled how, in their youth, they were often told that they were too rebellious in the way they asked questions and spoke out against people’s expectations of them. These expectations, especially for a young Haitian girl, included academic success, staying in line with gender norms, and making their family proud. Beverly felt there was a limited space where they could just be, with all of their true colors, ideas, and curiosity. “It is important to find a way to turn inward and find the space for yourself,” Beverly shared. With all of these themes of creativity, defiance, and inquisitiveness within her childhood, I asked Beverly how she finds these pieces translating into her adulthood now. She explained that she no longer second guesses her judgment and sense: “I don’t have that fear that it’s not going to work. It might not happen exactly as I envisioned it but it’s going to work. I have this inherent childhood innocence that says there is no such thing as ‘things don’t work.’” It put a smile on my face to hear that Beverly’s resilient spirit and confidence has only emboldened since childhood. 


Mithsuca’s two words to describe themself were transformative—like a chameleon, they emphasized—and spiritual. They immediately expanded on what they meant by spiritual: “[a] desire to know more and question what I’ve been taught; thinking about what the meaning of existence is and developing that has made me spiritual.” Like Beverly, Mithsuca was also called rebellious and overly curious as a kid. They described how they often questioned why people did or believed certain things and the response, specifically from older people in their life, was to reprimand that curiosity. We discussed how our elders, in all of their scolding of our questions, most likely had the same ones but chose to stay silent about their own confusion and instead, reprehend ours. I loved getting to hear about Mithsuca’s attitude towards being open to new ideas and ways of thinking: “Like, shake something up a little bit!” They also mentioned that, as a kid, because they spent so much time in their room, they had a lot of time to be alone and to create things. “The socio-economic status of my family […] ultimately resulted in me spending a lot of time making things and having the space to just be a kid but in a very isolated sense. I was able to protect a lot of my creativity and innocence throughout that experience because I always had these bubbles where I could talk to myself and, and just make things,” they shared. I was surprised to see this theme of being in our rooms and creating ourselves in our rooms repeatedly come up for Beverly, Mithsuca and myself. While thinking about how elements of their childhood have carried into their adulthood, Mithsuca reflected on their place in the world and how they’ve constantly had to think about how they can change the old-fashioned practices: “If all of these places are being modeled after systems that are really old and are really exclusive, inherently everything that I have to do is like an experiment for myself. How do I freak it? How do I make an opportunity that may not exist right now? Like within my reach, out of thin air.” Both Mithsuca and Beverly’s determination to challenge outdated norms and create unique opportunities for themselves to be their truest selves is a testament to the resourcefulness, adaptability and perseverance that is embedded in the three of us and Haitian kids everywhere. 


Both artists spoke about their queer and Haitian identities as inextricable, highlighting that their experiences in the world are shaped by both identities simultaneously. Beverly and Mithsuca shared the parts of Haitian culture that continue to influence their lives, inspire their artistry and shape their existences. Beverly spoke specifically about how developing their relationship with Haitian culture and traditions such as Carnival made them develop a deeper connection to fashion. They shared, “I restructured my relationship with Carnival and the voice it gave women to participate in that; how the culture of Haitian fashion came about and how it came about as a destruction of colonial structure.” They acknowledged that embedded within Haitian culture is a long history of anti-colonialism, rebellion and radical expression that they, naturally, feel those same things within themself. Beverly also spoke to how being Haitian in America is inherently a queer experience. Though a lot of their identity is formed by their experience in the United States, nothing can take away the parts of their heritage that are embedded in who they are. They shared a poetic sentiment about their Haitian-American identity: “Brooklyn, New York, USA, hood adjacent— all of that is where I am and I color it in with who I am.“ Mithsuca, similarly, finds an intrinsic quality of Haitian people to be their scrappiness and craftyness. We had an insightful conversation about how for most of Haiti’s history, spanning from the Revolution to the 2010 earthquake to the recent assassination of Haiti’s president, Haitian people have had to constantly recover drastically and start from scratch. “I’ve always seen Haitians as very crafty people, you know, stretching things whether that be money, clothes or something,” they expressed. In sharing their deep connections to their Haitian identities and the intricate interplay of queerness, resilience, and rebellion, Beverly and Mithsuca illuminated the richness and complexity of their cultural heritage and how it has always showed up in their existences.

Through my interviews with Beverly and Mithsuca, I was able to put my own Haitian upbringing and queer experience against the backdrops of theirs and I realized that there are some Haitian experiences that are truly universal. Both of these multi-talented artists provided beautiful anecdotes and insights about intricate intersections of their identities and the way creativity, resistance and resilience have followed them from childhood to now, bleeding into their artistry, queerness, and cultural identity. The existence of these queer Haitian individuals, including myself, and all of our unwavering desires to be our truest selves is the essence of Haitians. It took me far too long—twenty-one years, to be exact—to embrace the ways in which my Haitian-American identity and my queerness have always existed in tandem. This discovery was largely made possible by the conversations I had with these two individuals so Beverly and Mithsuca, thank you.

After Party

As always, Lenore’s playroom is filled with wonderful things today! Strings of roses curl pinkly across the wallpaper, each flower lighting up like a round firefly by the sun spilling through the curtainless window. It’s a modest room, but the day seems somehow to fill and expand its walls as one would imagine a balloon. The ceiling is a sky over the happy scene of Lenore and her teatime attendants. A tall, trusty clock stands with steady hands, punctuating the silence with a pleasant tik tik tik until—

Pierre, across from Lenore at the foot of the table, flings his papier mâché arms with wild glee, “It’s very good of you to have hosted us for this tea party, Lenore!” The puppet’s painted smile beams, a joyously jagged, ever-living expression painted onto his form. “I do LOVE receiving your invitations.”

“Too true,” seconds Wilfred, the stuffed lamb to Lenore’s left.

“And what a day for it!” exclaims The Lady with a twist of her parasol, “Shall I pour the tea?”

Baby Doll wiggles out an ecstatic, “Tii-tumpafh!” A clear sign to all to begin the festivities.

The puppet prince raises his kettle, “Shall we?”

“We shall!” salutes The Lady.

The now-brewed teapot makes a light clink as it makes contact with the porcelain hand of The Lady. Rapturously, the party-goers watch as the pretty doll tilts the pot and eases air into each cup, starting with Baby Doll’s cup and going round clockwise.

Lenore accepts the tea graciously, knowing that when she is old enough to handle the bulky pot, it will be her turn as the host to pour the tea. Wilfred receives his tea next. His woolen hooves brace the cup as he blows away imaginary steam.  The Lady then turns to the cup of Mr. Phone, a rotary fellow with a handsome smile. 

“Mr. Phone! Ring once for one lump of sugar, and TWICE for two!” said Pierre, with an endless grin.


The table buckled with laughter.

“Still ever the sweet tooth, I see!” Pierre’s grin brightens as his cup is filled with wind, “Thank you, Lady.”

“My pleasure,” says The Lady, keeping her attention on his teacup and then her own.

“Thank you for inviting me, Lenore. I’m awfully grateful for such a cordial offer,” hums Wilfred, stirring cream into his cup with his embroidered paw.

“Wilfred, you goof, you’re always invited,” Pierre scoffs, “Me, on the other hand . . .”

Mr. Phone rings! Wilfred reaches to pick it up.

“Well, that’s silly!” he sets Mr. Phone down gently, his teacup on the table reflecting into his button eyes.

“What did Mr. Phone say?” asks The Lady.

Lenore’s head tilts inquisitively.

Baby Doll coos while playing with the table cloth, before The Lady swats her hand away.

“He said that Lenore doesn’t like to invite Pierre because he’s scary,” Wilfred says plainly, ”Isn’t that silly?”

The Lady huffs in scandal. Such talk is unbecoming.

“Well, isn’t that funny!” Pierre chortles, motionless in the face despite the texture of his words.

Isn’t that funny.

“Lenore isn’t afraid, Mr. Phone! How ridiculous, no . . . no, she’s only shy,” The Lady says to Pierre. 

Wilfred is reminded of his manners. “What a lovely dress you have on, Lady!” 

Baby Doll swings her heavy head in agreement.

“Oh this old thing?! I’ve had it ever since it was painted on me!” The Lady blushes softly.

Wilfred nods, “It has aged like wine, My Lady.”

RING RING! Wilfred picks up Mr. Phone.

“Mr. Phone is asking if Lenore remembers painting Our Fair Lady after—”

Pierre’s strings throw up with a start. “Well, if you ask ME, she could’ve used a steadier hand!”

Lenore, embarrassed, slumps into her saucer.

“Manners, Lenore,” says The Lady, though facing the puppet.

Lenore whips up to adjust her posture. She remembers to keep her shoulders back and her head lifted high, as if held in place by thread.

“How about another round of tea?” Before getting an answer, Pierre jolts alive, sloshing the nothing-tea in broad swinging motions. He goes round the table, humming something without pattern until interrupted by Wilfred.

“But Pierre…” He starts.


The dry, hollow shell of a papier-mâché head swivels in Wilfred’s direction. 


“If I’m not mistaken, Lenore has barely touched her cup.”

Wilfred feels satisfied in having remembered this detail, not out of consideration for Lenore, but in some unidentifiable ‘Aha!’ moment. But then, Wilfred recognizes something erratic in Pierre’s lasting stare: a sense of denial. Pierre’s motionless body is brimming with energy.

“Lenore,” The Lady speaks, “Your tea is going to get cold.”

RING RING! No one picks up Mr. Phone.

RING RING! Hesitation.

RING RING!  It would be rude not to answer the call.

A lone hoof approaches the phone, threatening to end the silence. It is met rapidly with eight strings, slicing through the lamb’s arm. Plastic beads scatter all across the floor.

Pierre smiles. “Wilfred, I think you dropped your spoon. Allow me to answer him.” A long, long arm reaches to wrest the phone from its resting place, “Helloooooooooo? INTERESTING . . . Oh yes! That sounds like good fun! I’ll tell the others.” Mr. Phone’s body is slammed into itself.

“Mr. Phone thinks we should play a game.”

“Oh, delightful! What shall we play? Did he say . . .?” The lady stares into the distance above Mr. Phone’s head.

Wilfred’s posture slumps, “I like games . . .” 

“Mr. Phone would like to play a game of I Spy,” Pierre’s smile spreads even further. 

I Spy is Baby Doll’s favorite game! She releases a tiny roar of approval.

“Mr. Phone should go first because he proposed the game.” The Lady glows in pride of her own etiquette.

RING RING! Wilfred’s arm fumbles before picking up Mr. Phone.

“Mr. Phone? Mr. Phone, are you there?” The Lamb asks meekly.

“Oh this flavor is DELIGHTFUL!” Pierre exclaims.

“Yes, tell us, Lenore, what did you use to make this?” The Lady chimes in.

Wilfred raises his voice lightly above the conversation. “Mr. Phone spies something pink.”

The Lady snaps back her attention to the game, “Hmmm. Pink? Could it be the wallpaper?”

Mr. Phone doesn’t ring.

“Perhaps it is none other than Our Fair Lady’s rosy cheeks?” Pierre smiles.

“Oh you flatterer! Well, Mr. Phone?”


“Mr. Phone…could it be your button n..ose . . .?” Wilfred tries to take a sip of tea but can’t even lift it to his mouth. Met with silence from Mr. Phone, he tries again, “Maybe the teacupsssss…” His deflating voice manages a whisper.

No rings.

The Lady concedes, “Maybe we should ask for a hint.”

The party returns their attention to Mr. Phone expectantly. In three motions, Mr. Phone slowly moves his stressed gaze in the direction of Lenore. Tik. Tik. Tik. In the corner of her mouth, there is something curiously pink! The open window brings a wind to Pierre’s back. Crawling across the table, Baby Doll giggles, eager to solve the puzzle. She grabs the pink thing and yanks. Lenore’s whole torso collapses into the table as Baby Doll, like a small magician, pulls endless yards and yards of sullied, brown-pink fabric out of her mouth. Lenore’s body puddles into a pile of skin, now emptied.

Show’s over.

Paint chips fly in wild abandon from Pierre’s smile as he releases a violent sequence of shrieks and pained moans. 

The party-goers go limp in their chairs, now unstrung. Tea cups, spoons, and plates all crash into the malfunctioning table, the overhead light pummels onto the table as the strings spasm, the looming clock spinning erratically, ringing in reverse, the ceiling is a sky, the ceiling is a sky, the ceiling is a sky and Pierre is the sun, the centerpoint of it all, thrashing.


Silence. Pierre and Mr. Phone sit in recognition of each other. Their eye contact doesn’t break as Pierre methodically returns each tea cup to its starting position. The puppet crawls desperately onto the table, determined to make things perfect again. In airy, marionette movements, he shoves rotting curtain back down the flabby gullet of Lenore’s corpse. Carefully, Wilfred is stitched back together, restuffed but emptier. Some plastic beads remain on the floor. Mr. Phone watches the clock rewind to 4 p.m. Lenore’s playroom is filled with wonderful things today!

“It’s very good of you to have hosted us for this tea party, Lenore!”