It has been almost a year since Mark Aguhar committed suicide.
I first came across her art sometime last winter. From the first piece I saw, her works and words grabbed me with their honesty and rawness, and I was deeply distressed to hear of her passing last March.
Mark was an MFA student at the University of Illinois, Chicago where her work centered on queer expression, embodying a combination of “porn, fashion, textile patterns, optical effects, trans identities, and queer jokes”. She also ran the popular blog Call Out Queen. There she “blog[ed] for brown gurls,” “called out white, male, thin privilege and affirmed brown, fat, femme agency.” Her blog embodied a sort of critical flippancy, pulling apart sexist and racist bullshit while still simultaneously celebrating her existence as a femme of color.
I rediscovered her work this winter break, obsessively reading through the hundreds of pages in her Tumblr’s archive and looking through her published work. Her blog and her art felt like a virtual queer refuge in my suburban town. I did not know Mark, but pages and pages of her photos, rants, thoughts, litanies and art served as a time capsule of her existence that filled me with joy, but also with a deep melancholy knowing that Mark was no longer a part of our world.
I intended to write this post as simply an introduction to her art and activism, but the political nature of her work and existence makes that more or less impossible. I do not intend to paint Mark as a victim, nor tell her story for her. In her blog, Mark was explicit in her defense of suicide and adamant on the strength of her sisters who had passed before her. However, it seems impossible to divorce her death from the disproportionate violence that feminine-of-center, gender non-conforming people of color face within broader society, but also within so-called “queer” communities as well. Her death is echoed in the immense loss of Deoni Jones, Coko Williams and the dozens of other trans* people of color whose lives were taken over the past year.
Mark’s blog speaks to the amount of hate one can receive just for having a brown, trans, femme, fat body. Her life spoke to the amount of pride, beauty, and energy it can take simply to exist in a society that does not honor your existence.
As the anniversary of her death approaches, in addition to celebrating her work, I hope that we can also take this opportunity to discuss and address racism, transphobia, femmephobia, and fatphobia in our communities.
Because we have lost too many, and this cannot continue. As Mark wrote in November of 2011:
“I don’t need to be strong, I need for the world to stop being so fucking weak, that my sisters are being swallowed up before my eyes”
-Kyle Albert, Blog Editor