Open letter re my recent curatorial decisions

I received an email from a customer who was alarmed by my decision to centre LGBTQ+ and BIPOC+ creators in this shop. I wanted to publish my response.

Bridge Witches Tarot, by Genvieve Barbee Turner

Dear —,

Choosing to focus my limited time, space and resources on the creators closest to my heart [LGB, trans, nonbinary, queer, Black, Indigenous, people of colour, and others who bring experiences of marginalisation] is not ‘an arbitrary means of differentiating’ between artists, and there is no need to be alarmed.

As a queer person who has struggled with being an outsider in a world that has frequently told me that I and my kind are perverse, incorrect, disgusting, wrong, including within my own family, I cannot tell you how affirming and powerful it is to enter a space that is centred on my identity, my community, my experience. A space that sees me in my queerness, does not demand I water it down or disguise it, does not fit me into straight culture in the name of ‘diversity’, but instead says ‘this is for you’. It makes me love myself more. Not an experience I have often. I hear similar from the people of colour in my life. (Whilst I don’t equate our experiences, there is common ground in this marginalisation.)

While straight white folks may experience my decision as a ‘separation’ and some, like you, may even call it ‘discrimination’, I ask you to recognise the privilege in viewing it that way and feeling perhaps mildly hurt or even unwelcome. For many, being separated and excluded is a daily experience. I cannot explain to you what this does to your sense of self, your sense of possibility. A devastating example: Did you know that nine out of ten transgender young people in the UK have thought about suicide, and that more than a quarter have attempted to end their own lives? In a world that continually says there is something wrong with you, spaces that explicitly say ‘you are welcome, you are seen this is for you’ can have life-changing impact. And you are welcome to visit, enjoy, and shop at Little Red Tarot if you wish – just because you are not centred does not mean you are not welcome.

Yes, we want a utopian world where there are no borders, no separations. Those are my politics too. I’m glad you have fought against bigotry. Please keep doing so, and do not expect anything in return – the reward of true allyship is revolution.

Meanwhile it is going to take a lot of work to get to that world, and until we get there some of us will need spaces that are just for us, where we can feel safe and seen and celebrate our art and creativity and magic. Be assured that there is plenty of space in the world for your art too.

My work is an expression of my queerness. This shift in the shop, which as you can see I do with pride and conviction, is a reclaimation of the margins, a celebration and deepening of community and care, and an explicit message to my community: you are welcome, you are seen, and this is for you.

I hope this helps to explain my decision more clearly.