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what living on a queer commune in rural oregon is like

Culture
illustration by liz riccardi

my world, my words

My World, My Words is a series of first-person essays featuring totally unique, inspiring personal experiences unlike anything you've heard before. The most interesting stories are also often the most overlooked, so we're on a mission to find them and share them with you. Written by people from all walks of life, these essays will move you in ways you might not expect—and that's the point.

I didn't mean to move to a queer land project in rural Southern Oregon when I left New York City two years ago searching for an adventure. But in retrospect it makes perfect sense. The land that I now call home is exactly what I would have collaged on a vision board if you’d asked me where, in my most perfect manifestation, I would like to spend my days: A combination modern queer safe-space, early seventies back-to-the-land commune, and a riot grrrl's DIY fever-dream.

There is a long history of queers moving to rural places and setting up intentional communities where we can fly under the radar of mainstream oppression and expectations. To describe all such places would be impossible. “Queer land” means different things for different people. There are sex positive sanctuaries, drug-free homesteads, separatist communities. Some of these lands have been around for decades and the people who live there would bristle at my use of the word “queer” to describe them (identities are tricky things to pin down, even trickier to assign to others); some have been around for just a year or two and are still looking for a permanent place to settle, renting spots that’ll do while the inhabitants save enough to buy land. I can’t speak for all queer lands, and I can’t even be the definitive voice for mine–it’s been around for a decade, and I’ve only lived here for nine months. 

What I can tell you about is what living on queer land has meant to me, a queer grrrl in her mid-twenties, and why I think it’s so important that all queers know these spaces exist, and that we keep investing in them.

I’d been traveling and living out of a backpack for months when I got here last summer, but I fell in love with our 46 mostly wild acres immediately. Upon arrival I met the women who owned the place, pitched my tent, established how much work I’d be expected to do to earn my keep, and met Rachael, another young woman who was passing through. 

At dinner on my first night Rachael suggested that I read a book she found on the communal bookshelf: Weeding at Dawn: A Lesbian Country Life, by Hawk Madrone. Later that evening I wiggled into my sleeping bag and gobbled up the words all at once, finishing the book in one sitting and swiftly developing a crush on the author, who is now in her seventies and lives about an hour away. I learned at breakfast the next morning that I would be meeting her the following weekend, at an open house we were hosting. We’d skill-share, potluck, and socialize. I couldn’t wait. 

This is my favorite part: getting to know other human beings. Specifically, queers. There is something so damn beautiful about the queer community, about the individuals who belong to it, about our shared history and unique experiences and the honesty and openness that can be channelled when queers gather and talk to each other, exist together, escape the assumptions of heteronormative living. It is extra beautiful when we bridge the generation gap, mingle with our elders and our youth, appreciate that we owe so many of the comforts of our own queer lives to the powerful folks who came before us—but also that the young have much to teach, too. 

Last September a young woman from Ohio came to volunteer on our land and confided in me that it was the first place she had witnessed other women being so powerful, so in charge, so supportive of each other. “I didn’t know this kind of life existed,” she said. “Now that I know, I want to live it.” She cried when she left.

I am constantly begging my friends to come visit me on the land, not because I am lonely or because we don’t already have a constant stream of visitors, but because I want all the queers I have ever known to understand how powerful we are, how self-sufficient we can be. I want everyone I have ever loved to experience this feeling, and I mean so many things when I say that. I mean that I want them to hold a chainsaw and chop wood and then use that wood to make a fire that will keep us warm in the winter, but I also mean I want them to exist in a space that is just a little bit out of the patriarchy’s grasp. I want Diva Cups and skipping showers to be the norm but tampons and deodorant not to be scorned if that’s what you want to use; I want communal cooking and intergenerational learning and late-night slumber parties and impromptu sing-a-longs and love, so much love.

In a world that is steeped in digital media, it feels like a radical act to carve out a physical space and call it ours. The internet has provided a safe space for millions of young queers who may have no where else to turn in their small towns or their conservative families or their own total confusion, it’s true, but I want those people to know there are places where we can meet face to face, get our hands dirty together, fight and fuck and listen and forgive and live, without any screens to separate us. I want to talk about queer spaces that are not New York, San Francisco, London, and Berlin. I want to advocate for community building that does not only take place in bars. 

I want to acknowledge how important queer land is, how grateful we should all feel for it, and how capable we all are of creating it and keeping this legacy alive. I want to help lead a queer revolution in the woods because living here has made me see that we can.

For more My World, My Words, check out:
What It's Like To Be Genderqueer At An All-Women's Naked Spa
We Lost Our First Apartment In The Hurricane
I Left NYC To Travel The World Alone
Life Lessons From A Six-Year-Old Girl

Photo by Handout / Getty Images.

From selling probiotic supplements to picture frames and umbrellas

A Kardashian-level of success doesn't happen overnight, and it certainly doesn't happen without proper planning. Kim Kardashian West clearly knows this because, according to TMZ, she has already filed for trademark protection on the name of her two-week-old baby, Psalm West. From personal appearances and entertainment services to probiotic supplements and scrunchies, she is leaving no stone unturned in terms of possible business opportunities.

Apparently, all of the Kardashian parents file these kinds of trademark protections for their kids even if the businesses never come to fruition. It's done as a precautionary measure to keep others from profiting off of their name and to make sure that, should they ever want to start a business, they don't have to worry about someone else getting to it first. The sheer length of this list speaks to the huge earning potential of baby Psalm, who can't even control his own neck muscles yet, let alone go into business. Still, this brings a whole new meaning to "securing the bag."

Below, a list of all the things Kardashian West is seeking usage rights for.

Hair accessories

Barrettes

Bands

Bows

Clips

Ties

Ornaments

Pins

Scrunchies

Chopsticks

Twisters

Wrap

Hair extensions

Ornamental novelty pins

Entertainment services

Personal appearances

Skin care

Probiotic supplements

Toy figures

Doll accessories

Computer software

Clothing

Baby bottles

Furniture

Strollers

Beverageware

Swaddling

Blankets

Skin moisturizers

Lotions

Creams

Bubble bath

Fragrances

Body powders

Shower gels

Body oils

Skin serums

Nail polish

Nail polish remover

Nail care preparations

Puppets

Puzzles

Toy jewelry

Toy cameras

Toy food

Bath toys

Baby gyms

Playground balls

Electronic action toys

Baby bouncers

Baby changing tables

Baby walkers

Pillows

Mirrors

Cushions

Picture frames

Playpens

Baby carriers

Cosmetic bags

Toiletry cases

Duffle bags

Umbrellas

Clocks

Watches

Key chains

Calendars

Books

photo albums

Stationery

Stickers

Writing utensils

Collectible trading cards

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Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Well, actually it's crocodile, but she looks out of this world so...

Winnie Harlow walked the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday on her way to a screening of Oh Mercy!, wearing a showstopping gown.

The sheer black dress featured green embroidery on the front and back, which Ralph and Russo confirmed was in the shape of a crocodile. She belted the dress with a black crocodile skin-like belt and finished the look off with some strappy heels. She didn't leave it at just that. For beauty, Harlow packed on full lids of sparkly purple eyeshadow. She kept her hair sleek and simple.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Though the brand says otherwise, as Game of Thrones fans, we'd like to think the embroidery is reminiscent of a dragon's skin. Not to mention, Harlow looks out-of-this-world beautiful in it.

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Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

That denim kimono!!

Marion Cotillard shut down the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday at a screening for Matthias Et Maxime. Instead of an extravagant gown that's expected of the event, Cotillard wore a matching black crop top and shorts. Despite wearing an outfit I typically don to a hot yoga class, she looks incredible. She completed the look with an oversized denim kimono, a statement necklace, and heeled booties.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

At first, I was drawn in by the crop top and hotpants duo, but, after looking closer at the kimono, it's clear that it's the real scene-stealer. The floor-length Balmain piece was decorated with artful rips and dragon motifs. I would like to live in it.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Let's all bow down to the Khaleesi of Cannes.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help"

Singer Billie Eilish is continuing to open up about mental health, this time in a new PSA video in partnership with the Ad Council and Seize the Awkward.

In the video, Eilish insists that "it doesn't make you weak to ask for help." She doubles down on the importance of asking for help, and stresses the importance of friends and family being there when their close ones reach out and checking in on them as well. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, everyone has to help someone if they need it." According to Eilish, there have been times when someone reached out to her at the exact moment she needed it, and it helped.

It was particularly refreshing to see Eilish acknowledge that there are things she still doesn't know and has to learn about her mental health. At the very beginning of the video, the interviewer asks her to reflect on her mental health journey, and all Eilish can do is let out chortle. "I think when people hear, 'Remember to take care of your mental health,' they think that everyone else is, and that is not at all accurate," she admitted. "You know, for me I'm trying to learn still to make sure that I stay okay."

Check out the PSA below.

Billie Eilish On Mental Health & Friendship | Ad Council www.youtube.com

Photograph via @kimkardashian.

"#NotOnMyMoodBoard"

Kim Kardashian has definitely been accused of borrowing a design now and then. But when Instagram influencer and Kardashian look-alike Kamilla Osman claimed the entrepreneur copied her birthday look for a Met Gala after-party, Kardashian was not going to let it fly—and shared plenty of photo evidence to shut down the claim.

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada first noticed Osman's claims on Instagram and shared side-by-side images of Kardashian's Cher-inspired outfit designed by Mugler and Osman's dress. "Never get confused with who 'inspires' who. They won't give you credit but they will copy," Osman wrote on her IG story. "I designed this dress for my birthday last year. Nobody had a dress like this was an original design."

Kardashian responded by posting the true inspiration behind her look: images of Cher, in similarly sparkly, plunging-neckline dresses and wigs, and of model Yasmeen Ghauri walking a Mugler show in the '90s. In fact, the only similarity between Osman's and Kardashian's looks is the bodycon mini-dress style, which the two are not the first to wear. Among the images, Kardashian included a blank slide with the hashtag "NotOnMyMoodBoard," making it clear that this was in response to Osman's claims.

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Though I am with Kim on this one, Kardashian does have a history of co-opting other people's work. From being sued over her Kimoji app, to claims she copied makeup palettes and perfume bottle designs, to being accused of copying Naomi Campbell's entire style, it's far from the first (and probably, far from the last) time Kardashian's name will be mentioned like this.

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