The Bee Interview

Published On March 16, 2011 | By Kymbo Slice | Interviews

Nakout #1 comes to you with a bit of a different approach than our other entries. Sometimes these interviews will be silly. Sometimes they will take a different tone. As someone who is close to many of my queer friends, I realize the gravity this subject carries. Sure, the subject of being gay arouses a plethora of jokes – but it’s time to get serious, folks.

This is Bee. Bee recently spearheaded a project called Ully-Bay. You may or may not have heard about it, depending how much you pay attention to queer haps in the Pgh. According to Bee, Ully-Bay, a play on Pig Latin, “reclaims the word bully to reverse the stigma of unstoppable discrimination and hatred.” The inspiration behind this project stemmed from Bee’s own experiences with discrimination, as well as the affirmation, “We have made it; we are here.” Bee goes on to say, “In the fall of 2010 the media covered the lives and deaths of handfuls of young queer folks who took their lives. Unsafe, unsupported, and unknowing, they took an extreme measure to find peace. This is not the first time a young person has taken their life – extreme discrimination and bullying has taken the last breath of countless of queer young people for ages.” Ully-Bay is an attempt to raise awareness and combat the hopelessness that is endured by so many young queer people. It also borrowed inspiration from the 2010 “It Gets Better” campaign on youtube in which thousands of videos sharing queer experiences were uploaded. I had the opportunity to ask Bee a few questions about the project. Bee’s answers were poignant and uplifting.

KS: Ully-Bay was originally slated as an e-zine. What made you upgrade it to a book project?
Bee: “Upon putting the call out for submissions on Facebook, I began receiving these in-depth stories and fantastic photographs and art pieces describing and illustrating the experience of queer. And while I love the idea of a zine, and still plan on creating a rag for all people to easily access, something about a high definition book called to me. And I’m glad I went this route because the end product is full of life and love and struggle, and it’s beautifully bounded and designed. A coffee table of sorts. To flip through and talk about. To flip through and cry, smile and get mad about. The book is powerful.”

KS: What aspect of this process made the biggest impact on your life? Biggest takeaway?
Bee: “Wow; that’s a big question, and it’s also a little question because I have parsed out so much in my head about the realities of acceptance and labels, and I myself have struggled and meandered through fields of boundaries. Offering advice and creative input has encouraged my own path – reminding me and those in my life that exposure and the fact that we are seriously not alone, is so beautiful. I’m a fan of community and holistic approaches to life – engaging all pieces of a person’s world. The tangibility of a project such as this really brings the advocacy full circle.”

KS: Rate the status of Pgh’s LBGT/queer arts scene – do you think we need more creative outlets and opportunities such as this?
Bee: “I think there is an interesting mix of queer events in Pittsburgh, and for the most part, it mirrors that of other major cities’ approach: through drinking and dancing at queer-themed parties. And while I most definitely patron and love those events, I get giddy about the art and music and theatrical events. A couple of us started Queersburgh, a monthly event space mixing folks, food, music, art, and spoken words in the exploration of the word QUEER while sharing the common goal of collaboration and community formation. It’s open to all, and that’s something I feel the most strong about because no movement of the fringe has ever excelled without the inclusion and existence of the “mainstream”. More, there is so much inspiration from the out and allied business owners in Pittsburgh – putting themselves out there to make safe spaces to let everyone simply be. I appreciate that.”

KS: Do you plan on doing this again? Future projects in the works?
Bee: “The only plan I have to extend this project is to a) maybe add more pages to the book, b) scan the book to create a floppy-page zine with character and a cost that would allow people from all walks of life to engage with the courageous submissions. Future projects include the inception and distribution of the micro grants for queer folks. I’d also really love to interview young people on their reactions; maybe make a book for those responses, or hold an art show to create a bridge between individuals and the community.”

And there you have it, our first interview. Bee was an eloquent, smart and intriguing first choice. To view the Ully-Bay project in its entirety, hop on over here. You can also e-mail Bee at if you would like to submit something to the project. Who would you like to see next?

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