As I tell my kids: when a space you’d like to occupy either excludes you or doesn’t exist, make your own. Bravo/brava, good people of Tragic. Inclusive spaces in Philadelphia for the win!
I named my Philadelphia reading series Tragic: The Gathering because of the cheeky wordplay related to the popular collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, yes, but also to poke fun at the expectations placed on literature from trans writers. There’s nothing tragic about the energy in a room of people laughing and vibing and responding to Kayleb Rae Candrilli’s work about gender euphoria at the beach or Gen Z audience members suddenly reevaluating the professional wrestling their dads watched in the 80s because of Colette Arrand showing us the homoerotics of the squared circle. And there’s nothing tragic about Raquel Salas Rivera disrupting binary notions of what a literary reading is by reading all their work in both Spanish and English—Spanish first.
When a crowd comes together to feel fully themselves and show out with looks to prove it, as in lii xu’s head-to-toe floral prints, Noor Ibn Najam’s fishnet crop top, or Lily Kulp’s vintage faux fur, it’s a powerfully uplifting experience, and I started Tragic: The Gathering in part because I needed a series like this.