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  • Writer's pictureVictoria

S.1 EP. Pilot: Welcome to Wayward Wonderland

To whom it may concern, 

Most basically, this column will serve as a depiction of present day, wayward lives just like yours and mine. My, and hopefully our, long term goal is to develop an immortal collection of right now. These narratives will range in topics from parties, sex, parents and parenting, childhood, rules, queer spectrums, boxy labels, academics, media, style, fashion, and beyond. Whether you were cursed out at a gay club, read a book that taught you something new about yourself, or are simply in love, you are welcome to bring it here. To be honest, and clear, this column is authored by a Black American lesbian woman (you’ll meet me later in this post), and thus my storytelling, nonfiction and fictional, will be from my personal perspective. This is not an exclusive wonderland – truly, all are welcome – but it is an incredibly intentional wonderland. Wander with care, please. 

To cure your curiosity…  

Where are we?

Wayward (way-werd) adj. 

Unpredictable and uncontrollable; perverse or unusual; freaky

Ex: What can I say, she works in a wayward way.

Wonderland (one-der-land) n

An undefinable space made of wonderment; unknown and unruly; deeply intriguing

Ex: Lewis Caroll made up a world called “wonderland,” then a young child got lost in it.

We are in Wayward Wonderland.

Our founding texts: 

Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval 

“Free love, common-law and transient marriages, serial partners, cohabitation outside of wedlock, queer relations, and single motherhood were among the sweeping changes that altered the character of everyday life and challenged traditional Victorian beliefs about courtship, love, and marriage. Hartman narrates the story of this radical social transformation against the grain of the prevailing century-old argument about the crisis of the black family.”

“For the first time, young black women are credited with shaping a cultural movement that transformed the urban landscape. Through a melding of history and literary imagination, Wayward Lives recovers their radical aspirations and insurgent desires.”

  • Penguin Random House

I first read some of the stories in Hartman’s book in a class called Queering the Black Americas. I took it the spring of my freshman year with visiting professor Watufani Poe and it opened up my world. 

More info on Hartman and Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments in this article

Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

The first time I read this story front to back was also my first year of college. It was a course titled Constructing Childhood with, again, a visiting professor Lise Sanders (it seems the best teachers are rarely permanent). In that class we read both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and watched six different film adaptations of the tale. By the end, I had no option but to give in to Alice and the wonderland’s prominence in all aspects of my life. Suddenly I was coming across related paintings in farmers markets in Salem Massachusetts and collecting used and new versions of the book in the sale section of bookstores. To celebrate turning twenty, I got brunch at Alice’s Tea Cup. When I see traces of Alice it means I am on the right track —that my childself is smiling and skipping along beside me. 

Now, I’m moved to bring both of these texts together and begin collecting the stories of this wonderland, our wonderland. Stories of Black lesbian sexualities and beyond, real and real-ish stories, fake and fake-ish stories. Ambiguous stories that are incredibly clear to the Alices of the world.

An incredibly malleable dictionary of our dialect:

A Madhatter - The party and event hosts. The queer people that love dancing.

A Hare - The social butterfly who is always at every party/event and maybe everyone has a crush on them because they’re cute as a mouse.

An Alice - Us, respectively 

A Cheshire Cat - An instigator; someone who lovesssss drama but not just for the fun of it – for the chaos, the tragedy, the fights, and the makeups.

A Red Queen - A “lesbian;” not in a labeled sexuality way but in a lifestyle way; they live as a woman who loves women, whether they’re sexually lesbian or not.

A White Queen - A “gay;” again, not in a labeled sexuality way but in a lifestyle way; they live as a man who loves a man, whether they’re sexually gay or not.

A White Rabbit - A person who is not yet publicly (and/or privately) comfortable as their queerselves.

A Caterpillar - A auntie or ancestor; queer elder (blood relation is not of importance).

A Young Pansy - The talker and/or performer. The Bessie Mas, Janelle Monaes, Freddie Mercurys, Frank Oceans, etc. etc..

An Old Pansy - A writer; The Baldwins, Hemphills, Cohens, Lordes, Jordans, Davises etc. etc. 

A Queen of Hearts - A queer pop icon or pop icon for queers – for better or for worse. Recently Troye Sivan, Ayo Edibri, Trixie and Katya, etc. etc.

Relevant mentions that originate outside the wonderland:

White accomplices: Sits at the table, dances at parties, shows up personally and politically, and never intends to intrude.

White allies: NOT a white accomplice; sits at the table, dances, at parties, shows up physically and socially, always intrudes–intended or not.

These are not titles based on labels, sexuality, gender expression, etc. These are personality types and no one worth spending time with is only one of these characters. Take, for example, me: I am an Old Pansy, Red Queen Alice. OPRQ-A, if you like acronyms (thought it feels necessary to clarify that I am a lesbian in both the sexual and lifestyle way). That is just today, and maybe tomorrow I am someone/thing else. Things change, you change, we change, these titles are not prescriptive. The next time someone asks you for your “personality type,” tell them what kind of Alice you are and show them how to get to Wonderland ;)

How I found the rabbit hole:

I was a young girl who didn’t speak to others that weren’t my mom, dad, or brother, and I preferred not to leave the house. I grew up in a suburb-ish right outside of New York City, it symbolizing a big beast of all my worst nightmares: crowds, perverts, murderers and vehicular accidents. The first time I explored non-domestic, non-academic social interaction was to perform the karaoke version of ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ by Rihanna. I stretched my arms out to either side of me and shook my pre-pre-pubescent breasts to “mama-say, mama-sa, ma-ma-ko-ssa.” The crowd (aunts, uncles, cousins) watched in shock.

My favorite show was Wizards of Waverly Place. Thirty percent of my interest in it was for the magic, but seventy percent was for Alex Russo. I loved her so much my father insisted I stop watching because I was beginning to pick up her attitude. I was, but most of all I was picking up her queerness/lesbianness/bisexualness/gayness(?): her quick wit, apathetic care, and the deep kind of love she had for her queerly-dressed, best friend Harper. 

In eighth grade I was part of a girl group made of nine-plus people and was swept up in drama. Aside from the real traumatic parts of it – the slur usage, the manipulativeI suicide threats, the unhealthy relationships – I was terribly amused by it. It was like all the Real Housewives shows I grew up watching, and fortunately for me I was the best friend of the Mother Housewife. My Alex Russo attitude carried me, except I wasn’t as charming, I wasn’t a wizard, and I didn’t have white skin.Put simply, I was just a bitch. My honesty was too brutal and my self-determination was threatening. By my own standards, eight years later, I agree–I was a bitch. A raging, fiery, stubborn, defensive bitch. But I knew other raging, fiery ,stubborn, defensive bitches who got passes because their thin white smiles let their insults land gracefully while mine smacked loudly on the ground. So yes, I was a bitch, but not more than anyone else.

By fifteen I was deeply depressed and suicidal, which some family members attributed to my struggling sexual identity and expression. I had zero crushes and didn’t want to hear any talk about like, love, or lust. And perhaps my depression was because of my sexuality but, if so, it was also because I was finally realizing my color, my womanhood, my youth, my growth, my timidness – and I hated it all. I was also, for the first time I can remember, politically opinionated and terrified during the 2016 election. I was internalizing phenomena like 13 Reasons Why and the curious way romantic relationships had begun to replace friendships. Then, I got contacts and my braces came off and I was so pretty and Black and everyone knew it. The more people knew it and declared it, the more death seduced me. At sixteen-and-a-half I moved to a small northern part of New York City; closer to my home suburb than central park. I split my weekends between the west village and Harlem, where my closest friends resided.

In May of 2020 I met two of my best – Black – friends while developing an anti-racist student organization. The following May I turned eighteen, graduated, had a beautiful summer, and by August I was, and I quote myself, “not straight.” Of course, everyone already knew. 

Now I am here, sometimes there, sometimes nowhere, in Wonderland. Most of the time I am in a very small liberal arts college in Massachusetts, my peer institutions being primarily all women’s colleges, quite queer, and quite white. The rest of the time I am in New York; home. I am a student, writer and lesbian, aka Old Pansy Red Queen; call me this, or Victoria, or Alice – it is all the same to me. 

I do not know how long this story collection will last nor do I know which and whose story I want to start with. But I think that, above all, this might simply be a project for myself; a promise to Live as a lesbian and a Black woman and a writer and a lover and a partier and an angry girl and an activist and an angry woman and a twenty year old and an eight year old and…


Here’s what I’m hoping for from you today, tomorrow, or whenever and if ever you choose to participate.

How did you find the rabbit hole? Did you go down it?

Who, what, how, when, where and why is the wonderland real for you?

  • I’m not intending to create an escapist world through telling tall tales of queerness, or blackness, or anything-ness. We live in the wayward wonderland because we simply do, but that does not mean we aren’t existing in and in relation to what we see around us: violence, fear, death, resistance, oppression, injustice, colonization, progress, failure, and beyond. I want to tell you about the pain in my wonderland as much as the serenity, and I’d like to hear about yours. 

How does this idea make you feel, if anything?

What would you change about my wonderland so far? Yours? Ours?

Share any thoughts, questions, suggestions, criticisms, and hopes. Comment below, DM me, email me, send a letter, fill out this form. However you do it, just be honest.

Welcome to The Wayward Wonderland 


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