Dearest Crystal, An Open Queer Love Letter
I'm trying to say, "I love you," to as many people as possible in 2021; I love you Crystal.
Image description: A digital illustration of a photo of Crystal Mason smiling joyously. The illustration was made by repetitively making small squiggly lines with a crayon-like brush. The result is a softness to the image that accentuates Crystal’s joy.
Dearest Crystal [Mason]:
I love you. I love you to the moon and back. Or as my mother would say, “I love you up to the stars, and the stars never end.”
I want you to know—in writing and not just in words expressed as we eat mango popsicles under the winter sun in your backyard, which sits on Yelamu, the unceded lands of the Raymatush and Ohlone peoples—how much I adore, honor, cherish, and venerate you. You have taught me to dream, and I am forever in your debt.
I remember so clearly you coming into Progressive Grounds, the coffee shop in our neighborhood at which I worked. Your eyes beamed bright, and I was immediately captivated by them and your big smile and your black, leather suspenders. I wanted to know more about you, learn your whole life story in that moment. But I held myself together and just gave you your coffee. A decade later, I know you, too, had a similar reaction when first we met, and it makes me love you even more.
A little while later—remembering exact dates seems especially difficult and mostly unnecessary these days—I saw you behind the counter at Mission Pie, and you served me a slice whose flavor I cannot remember. We chatted a bit then, but you had to get back to work. I believe we exchanged emails or phone numbers or some other contact information. And said something like, “Let’s get together soon.”
I am so glad that those mostly hollow words spoken to those we simply encounter behind counters did not become hollow. We both took them to be what they were: an invitation for connection and the possibility of camaraderie.
We followed up with each other—again exacting details are so difficult and continue to feel only in service to White Supremacy—somehow. What I remember and what feels most crucial is coffee and pie and engaged, deep conversations about desire, politics, White Supremacy, and how we survive this shit hole of suffering. I know our time together back then helped me find ways through deep depression and overwhelming anxiety.
I remember, too, my initial conversation with Zena Carlota and Shree Shyam Das at the Red Poppy Art House in 2016 about a possible co-created artist residency centered on cultivating relations through artful dinner parties. Zena and Shyam wanted the Red Poppy to have deeper ties and connections to specific communities they felt the Red Poppy had grown distant from. Situated on the corner of 23rd and Folsom Streets, the three communities identified collectively were born-and-raised Mission residents, queer and trans artists, and those who have crossed international borders to be in the Mission. I knew immediately I wanted to talk to you about how we create something for queer and trans artists. It was the core of so many of our conversations. You said yes.
Looking back, I still feel the immense joy I felt then at your acceptance to co-create with me, and I see how crucial that moment now is to the entirety of my life since October 2016, right before the election of Donald Trump. You had just finished up a performance piece for This Is What I Want, curated by Tessa Wills, and were doing some hermit work with them. In an invaginated, hermetic space, you dreamt. And it was dreaming you wanted to offer to our dinner party. I still see the delight in your eyes when you suggested that we make a space for collective queer and trans dreaming.
Since that initial dinner party in 2017, we have continued to dream individually and collectively. Our bond, our roots, and our dreams have generated a rich soil within which we are cultivating our liberation. I look at our garden, and I see the snapdragons of pleasure, the squash blossoms of possibilities, the nasturtiums of all peoples rising up. And we are gardeners not just tending soil but co-creating with others how we grow our gardens, train our gardeners, and seed dreams so big all of White Supremacy dissolves into nothingness.
This is a gift unlike any other gift I have ever received, and it requires me to put this in writing for writing is a form of documentation that marks a specificity that cannot be captured any other way. You deserve this specificity, this articulation, for your be-ing created it, and it should be known and shouted from mountaintops. You deserve to be venerated. You are an icon.
I love you, Crystal, and our love exists here and now and in all that came before and in all that is possible. It is a generative love, the kind that powers suns and creates the tides and grows our garden of liberatory dreams.
My dream for you, dearest Crystal, is that your roots continue finding their way home, to the source to which they long to return.
I know, like me, our dreaming has also been an untethering, and it can be overwhelmingly disorienting to experience liberation in our dreams only to return to the oppression of and the suffering inflicted by White Supremacy.
Please know I will forever be a fellow gardener, in this life and all those that came before and all those that will come after. I am here to tenderly tend any roots that you desire me to tend, and I am here to share in the delights of the fruits and flowers of our garden.
I love you, Crystal.
In camaraderie + solidarity + artistry + love,
Jason Michael Wyman
P.S. This letter is for you. I also would love to submit it to the Santa Fe Writers Project Quarterly. They are specifically looking for writers who identify within the LGBTQ++ umbrella to submit their poetry, prose, and hybrid works for this issue. We especially encourage writers within the QTPOC umbrella. Would it be ok for me to submit this? (And if so, I would publish it with the PS too. Xoxo) — SUBMITTED
P.P.S. Crystal Mason is Managing Director of Queer Rebels Productions (www.queerrebels.org), an artist, performer and media-maker, an activist and organizer, and so much more.
On February 14, 2021, I set an Altar to Queer Love. On it, I included a dream box Crystal created and gifted to me as part of our queer + trans dreaming dinner mentioned above. As part of my ritual, I captured the object’s origins, relations, and gestures transforming it from a simple paper box into an Icon of Queer Love. It is included below.
Image description: A digital gesture drawing of a dream box made by Crystal Mason as part of A Feast of Dreams, our queer and trans dreaming dinner. The box is covered in a collage that include eyes, a van, children playing, mountains, the sky, a dried flower all on top of tissue paper.
Image description: An Origins and Relations Map of the dream box.
The Origins read, “Personal History - This dream box was made by Crystal Mason for A Feast of Dreams, which was part of a co-created Artist Residency based on the art of relations. Crystal & I still dream together. Created in 2017. Acquired in 2017.”
The Relations read, “Those Who Are Ancestors: All our Queer & Trans Ancestors, All Our Ancestors Who Dream, All our Ancestors Who Create, Herman Hesse; Those Who Are Living: Those Who Break Bread, Crystal Mason, Midori, Zena CArlota & Shree Shyam Das, Elizabeth Cooper, Jason Michael Wyman.”
At the bottom of the Map is an infinity symbol and the words, “Gesture on ‘other side’.”