Photo by: Heather J. McClelland
Founded in 2016, the organization serves a global audience with a mission to expand and archive non-normative masculine identities. Born in Maryland and raised between New York and Washington D.C., Nalo moved to Baton Rouge in 2014 to experience life in the Deep South. She is completing a degree in Women, Gender and Sexuality studies at LSU, with plans to pursue a PhD.
Nalo is the acting president of Qroma at LSU, an organization for Queer students of color at the university. Nalo has dedicated her life to starting conversations that shift how we see the world and everyone in it, while helping Queer Black women feel seen, heard and healed along the way.
We recently chatted with Nalo, who is one of the speakers at TEDxLSU 2019 on March 23, to discuss her work and life. Read some highlights of the conversation below.
How did you end up at LSU?
I ended up in Baton Rouge as a wandering, nomadic spirit curious about life and love in the South.
What do you like most about the work you do?
My favorite aspect of my work/art is archiving and creating space for my existence and the experiences of other Queer Black women. This is important to me in a world that doesn’t already have a spotlight on the nuances that exist in my community’s lived experiences.
You’ve participated in a lot of academic conferences in the past few years. What are your most memorable experiences from those?
My most memorable experience was connecting with Alice Walker, Angela Davis and Cathy Cohen, three of my favorite Black Feminist authors. They embraced me, encouraging me to continue starting conversations that shift how we see the world, and everyone in it.
How is the field of women and gender studies changing or evolving?
In my opinion, the field of Women & Gender Studies is evolving to acknowledge more nuance. I don’t believe that anyone can study women without also acknowledging masculine, trans and non-binary women’s experiences. It’s a lot of work to introduce yourself time and time again, but I also thoroughly enjoy being one of the forces making them uncomfortable. We’ve been here, and we will no longer be silent.
What do you do to relax and unplug from your work?
I love meditation, reading, journaling, poetry and music. I try to catch an open mic to release some things whenever I get the time, my favorite form of artistic therapy. I also really love connecting with the QTPOC (Queer & Trans People of Color) community in art, love and joy.
Do you have any other hobbies?
Not many folks know that I can sing. But I love it. I love playing the piano and hooping at the gym every once in a while too. My favorite sport.
What is your superpower?
Great question. If I had to say so, I’d say my superpower is connecting with community and gathering people together. I have a unique, innate ability to connect with all kinds of people — emotionally, spiritually and personally. I am deeply empathic, and love connecting with tenderness in other humans. I used these gifts to create BGM as a Family first, rather than just a not-for-profit entity.
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan, and no one can tell me that I am not apart of Gryffindor forever.
Of all the 2019 TEDxLSU speakers, which are you most excited about seeing?
Ideas are powerful like poetry — a way for us to communicate our understandings of the world in our own language. I look forward to being inspired by each speaker in a different way. I’m so thankful to be among them.
To learn more about Nalo or about TEDxLSU 2019, follow TEDxLSU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Reserve your seat now to experience their talk, as well as the talks of all of the other TEDxLSU 2019 speakers.