In 2005, we met on a cold, early morning cruising San Francisco streets. This chance encounter began a courtship that eventually led us to officiate our own wedding at the Crimson Lounge on July 7, 2007, when it still wasn’t legal for queers to get married. One year later, California’s courts busted open the doors to same-sex marriage, and we found ourselves on July 9, 2008, among a select few who had the right to be married before Proposition 8 slammed that door back shut. It was and is a weird and perspective-shifting thing to be one of a select few the state grants rights to, and it continued flaming our passion for supporting Queerdos in all our unique, weird glory.
We wanted to try working and creating together, but we were unsure that bringing business into our personal lives would be a good idea. We took our time and discussed the possibilities and pitfalls of what it would mean to become even more entangled together until finally we decided, “Fuck it. We’ve got nothing to lose,” after Jason’s dad died on December 26, 2020.
It offers us new ways to understand each other and make meaning out of the chaos of this world. Our relationship is not dependent on Queerly Complex, for it existed before and will exist after and outside of Queerly Complex.
But Queerly Complex is dependent on the health of our relationship, which helps keep Queerly Complex honest about who we are & how we create in this messy, complex world.
I use design, illustration, poetry, performance, and media-making as inspiration to create services, merchandise, and experiences that help Queerdos & their comrades affirm, celebrate, and honor our fabulously unique beliefs, bodies, and beings. I strive to contribute to a sustainable, artful, intergenerational, and hope-filled world where our ancestors, elders, siblings, and children are thriving. My home, which physically resides in San Francisco / Yelamu, appears virtually anywhere and everywhere.
This role solidified itself when, after my father's diagnosis of mantle cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in January 2019, I was called into the role of Storyteller of My Dad's Cancer, Transformation, and Death. During the last five months of his life, my dad and I wrote open letters to each other intimately detailing how we have healed our fractured relationship, expanded our understanding of the Cosmic Mysteries that are greater than our Catholic origins, and revealed how we both were violently bullied for queerness during our middle and high school years. These letters and my sharing of them are alchemy that continues healing wounds caused by systemic poverty and violence.
I was able to step into my role as Storyteller because in 2018 I transformed My Life into Art through a year-long project called Be Jason, which opened on October 24, 2018, at Black & White Projects, a Black-run gallery by San Francisco-born Rhiannon Evans MacFadyen. Be Jason was a fully immersive experience inviting audience members to inhabit and explore what it means to consensually be someone else. Through four different stations, each embracing a different artistic modality, the audience could map, read, make, or become me. The result was a chaotic, overwhelming, and emotional experience of presence, being, and identity that completely transformed the gallery and all within it from floor to ceiling, toe to head, wall to wall, body to spirit.
Past installations, performances, and exhibitions that laid the foundation for Be Jason include #StickyQuestions (a 31’ x 3’6” double-sided, interactive sticker mural on the corner of Larkin and Grove) for the Asian Art Museum with Celi Tamayo-Lee and Mary Claire Amable over 2017, Shadows of Violence, Echoes of Healing (an 8-hour durational, site-specific performance taking confidential confessions of times people harmed others and transforming them into a sound healing piece) at Artist Television Access in November 2016, Confessing Desire (a 25-minute interactive performance using confession, I Ching, and poetics to reveal audience members sexual desires) with This Is What I Want Festival at CounterPULSE in 2015, and #WhereDoYouBelong Project (a multi-year, multimedia investigation into belonging with people facing evictions or fighting to stay in San Francisco) with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, The Mix @ San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco Youth Commission, California Academy of Sciences, Bay Area Video Coalition, Ninth Street Independent Film Center, and the San Francisco Tenants Union from 2014-2016. My visual art includes exhibitions at Black & White Projects, Southern Exposure, Ingleside Gallery, SOMArts, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, and numerous cafes, pop-ups, zines, and digital publications. All embrace revealing vulnerability, inviting curiosity, and celebrating All That Is Queer In All Of Us.
I officially co-founded Queerly Complex with my husband, John O’Reilly, in September 2021 after almost 15 years of development. Queerly Complex initially started shortly after our wedding in July 2007. It was a blog to document my queer life, and I could only launch it because of John’s unconditional support. In 2017, John and I started dreaming of making something together as a way to deepen the bond between us. It took the pandemic to kick our ass into gear and start prototyping an online shop for my visual work.
Now, thanks to our collective effort and the support of numerous comrades (shout outs to: Crystal Mason, Midori, Tray Smith, and Ash Tré Phillips) Queerly Complex is becoming a platform for Queerdos to find services, merchandise, and events that help you feel, explore, express, and live your radical beliefs and complex emotions, all with a splash of pink.
My focus is on translating our big, bold, and often messy ideas, visions, and art into things Queerdos want, need, and desire. After 35 years working music retail, I have a knack for understanding customer experience and creating opportunities for Queerdos to see themselves reflected genuinely, authentically, and proudly.
I spent my childhood moving from place to place throughout rural Southern California, and I was always exploring caves, drawing doodles, and daydreaming. Possums, chickens, turkeys, cockatoos, goats, a gopher (that I kept in a cage), snakes, rabbits, cats, and dogs were my companions. I even raised and slaughtered a pig as part of the FFA.
When I got to high school, I was bullied terribly. I idolized Siouxsie Sioux and was inspired that the men of Specimen and the Virgin Prunes wore their hair big with a face full of makeup, so I transformed myself into their image. My look was my armor, a visible “fuck you” to anyone who dared to try and torment or pick on me.
some of my friends even got kicked out of their homes because they were gay (even if they weren’t out.). My mom opened our home to them and invited my friends to live with us. She’s the one that taught me we Queerdos also need our comrades to survive.
My ticket out of the Riverside area was a job working retail at the Tower Records in West Covina. While I had previously gone out to underage clubs (and even met my best friend Daniel Blair), it was my move to Whittier that made finding my fellow Queerdos so much easier. I found them at Ground Zero, Club Fuck, Scream, Jewel’s Catch One, Helter Skelter, Cherry at Studio One. What moved me most about all these freaks, queers, and weirdos is that for the most part people were friendly and wecloming; as long as people saw you around, you were invited to the parties.
I learned how to tell people to fuck off rather than having to wear it as my armor. The black band tee became my comfort wear because it’s so much easier to throw on when you’re hungover. Plus, wearing a band’s art on your chest helps you also find your comrades.
I’ve lived in San Francisco since 1997, working for Tower Records in the Castro (RIP!) and then Amoeba Music on Haight Street. After over 35 years in the industry, one thing that strikes me most is that there’s less diversity in what’s being sold in stores and online. Companies, big and small, aren’t taking as many risks on art, music, and tastes that exist outside what mainstream consumers want to consume. And that’s significantly limiting opportunities for Queerdos who are making art about their radical beliefs and complex feels.
Again and again, I’ve witnessed Jason’s art do just that for folx from thirteen to thirty-eight to eighty-two, and their visual work is bold, impactful, and spurs conversation. All fabulous and necessary qualities for an online store. And going into business together is another way for us to deepen our bond.
Now, thanks to our collective effort and the support of numerous comrades (shout outs to: Crystal Mason, Midori, Tray Smith, Ash Tré Phillips, and Izza Anwar) Queerly Complex is becoming a platform for Queerdos and their comrades to find services, merchandise, and events that help you feel, explore, express, and live your radical beliefs and complex emotions, all with a splash of pink.