Illustrated by Charis/OutWrite
This letter was originally published in our Spring 2023 print issue “Color.”
I stand at the end of an era. To be entirely dramatic, I have put my heart and soul into this magazine for my entire college career and I can’t imagine my time at UCLA going any other way. Forty-four years ago, in 1979, a collection of queer people — perhaps just like me, perhaps very different — started OutWrite (then TenPercent) because they wanted to fill a silence. That silence was a purposeful stifling of queer voices, created in hopes that the quiet would kill us. My four years of impact is an inkblot, one-eleventh of the legacy of this historic publication, but that inkblot filled me up, bled me dry, and left me a far better version of my most unapologetic self.
One year before this magazine’s inception, artist Gilbert Baker weaved a universal queer symbol — the first Pride flag — and made his own mark on the silence. Although his original eight-striped design quickly morphed into the simple rainbow we know today, he created his own era: one of recognition, identity, and unabashed color.
It’s fitting that my final print edition at OutWrite relishes in this idea of color and its connection to collective queer community and values. Each piece herewithin explores each stripe of Baker’s original vision: pink (sex), red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sunshine), green (nature), turquoise (magic & art), indigo (serenity), violet (spirit).
Much like color, queerness is brilliant and beautiful, but most importantly, it is infinite. If OutWrite has taught me anything, it’s that there are no other words to encompass the queer experience and we shouldn’t be trying to find them anyway. It is okay to exist in messy, complex contradictions; to invent words when there aren’t enough to satiate our needs; to scream and cry and fuck and beam. Queerness does not lessen our humanity, it expands it. We are supernovas.
I will leave you with these oversimplified revelations. My trans, disabled body is gorgeous. I am happy to be alive. My trauma does not define me. The future is bright. Improving the world is my responsibility. I am creating what I want to see. We deserve peace. We are not going anywhere.
To a brighter queer future,
Christopher Ikonomou (Xe/He)