Keijaun Thomas’ new video performance is only 7 minutes long but I Looked Up At The Sky And I, Imagined All Of The Stars Were My Sisters has a lot to say in those few minutes.
Thomas is vulnerable and glorious: a golden goddess in the sea; wrapped in green amongst the tall flowering tillers of a wheat field; barely clothed but accented with emerald tones atop a cliff. The choice in natural surroundings give Thomas the perfect settings for her letter to Black and brown transfemmes.
Filmed over the course of the pandemic with just Thomas and one friend, the piece is minimal: no fancy transitions, no over the top special effects, no expansive cast list. Which is an effective decision. Bells and whistles are not needed for this expression of love and encouragement. Thomas pours herself into this performance: there is nowhere to hide.
Her words are thoughtful and her style poetic. I Looked Up At The Sky … is gentle and delicately written – a hug for her intended audience – punctuated with the occasional thorn intended exclusively for those who are offended by the mere presence of trans lives. Their discomfort and their offence are mentioned only as an acknowledgement of the common shared aspect of the wide variety of trans experiences. It is not dwelled upon. No, Thomas makes it clear that this piece is for her sisters.
This piece is about resilience, beauty, and love. A tender message of support that is so often needed, especially in times like this where it is so easy to feel alone. As we head into the second Pride month that takes place in the middle of a global pandemic, after almost a year and a half of on and off global lockdowns, it is incredibly important to reflect on the sense of community that has been lost for many marginalised groups. Queer venues all over the world have been hit hard by the loss of revenue and, as a direct result, many Queer communities have been fractured. For LGBTQ+ members who have found their families within their communities, the pandemic has pulled the rug of connection right out from under them. Thomas’ performance is a necessary and poignant reminder that even when we are alone physically, we are not fully alone.
As a non-binary Black femme, it was a reminder for me personally that my community still remains and will continue to be there when the world opens back up, even though they seem far from me currently. And I can only imagine how useful and touching it is to hear her words as someone who belongs to all of the groups Thomas is speaking to with this piece. If it made me feel more connected to my worldwide Queer community, the healing it can offer Black and brown transfemmes who are also dealing with this sense of loneliness and loss must be truly special.
I Looked Up At The Sky And I, Imagined All Of The Stars Were My Sisters was part of the Take Me Somewhere festival online, running until 5 June 2021.