New Queer Voices: Poet, writer and performer Travis Alabanza

The poet and performer opens up about how they never see their work as a voice for someone else


In Attitude's 25th anniversary issue - available to download and to order globally now - we're showcasing the boundary-pushing, trailblazing talents who'll be paving the way for the next next 25 years.

Alabanza - who identifies as as black, trans feminine, gender non-conforming, and uses the pronouns 'they/them' - first became published for poetry in Black and Gay in the UK Anthology in 2015.

They have been featured as a guest lecturer and panelist at more than forty universities in the UK during LGBTQ and Black History month to discuss issues related to race, sexual orientation, and gender. And here they open up about they never see their work as providing a voice for someone else...

Travis tells Attitude: "When I’m talking, I can only represent me. I never see it as providing a voice for someone else. Of course, I hope others can see a gender non-conforming, trans, black person take up space in the art world, in performance, in theatre - and think maybe they can too.

"My work is about complicating ideas about gender and ourselves, removing this idea that "trans" and "cis" are simple and neat categories to place us in, and realising both categories and lots of labels hold a real breadth and varying experiences. 

"My work has always been about asking for more. Realising we are more complicated, messy and complex than the current Western understandings of our gender, and that we deserve safety, love and protection no matter how we express it.

"Twenty-five years from now, I hope that season 1045.4 of Drag Race finally lets all kinda drag on, Shon Faye is revealed as our next Supreme and that Black Pride is a weekend festival. 

"But in seriousness, I think it's difficult to dream so far ahead, but I hope that the world becomes safer for people, and easier for people to live and thrive, not just survive.

"I hope that, 25 years from now, I have made a body of work that has excited me, and others, and that maybe some of my best selfies and looks are at least in someone's scrapbook somewhere."

Meet more queer trailblazers in Attitude's 25th anniversary issue, out now.

Buy now and take advantage of our best-ever subscription offers: 3 issues for £3 in print, 13 issues for £19.99 to download to any device.