Peach Tea Magazine is a new and exciting venture out of Atlanta that will showcase the lives and experiences of women and queer and trans folks in the South. Being partial to that kind of thing, I was thrilled that founding editor Lexi Chace took the time to tell me about her vision for Peach Tea.
Where are you from and where are you now?
I’m originally from Valdosta, Georgia. A few years ago I relocated from South Georgia, and I’m currently based in Atlanta.
My youth was very isolated and quickly politicized, living as a trans girl in rural Georgia. I was intimate with homophobic, misogynistic, and transphobic violence from a very young age. When I moved to Atlanta, I was able to explore my own identities in ways I didn’t think was possible – personally, socially, and politically.
I’m currently finishing up bachelor’s degrees in Applied Linguistics and Sociology, and my studies have given me frameworks for contextualizing my experiences within the broader intersectional struggles for female, queer, trans, and worker’s liberation. I don’t think I can divorce any of these struggles from another.
Tell me about Peach Tea Magazine? Why now?
We think it’s incredibly important that we – as women and trans folks living in the South – do this work ourselves. Mainstream women’s publications leave out queer and trans people, mainstream LGBTQ publications focus on cis gay men, and national publications in general have forsaken the South.
There’s a real dearth of activist work – and money – going into the South for women’s and Queer/Trans issues. The notion that the South is “hopeless” for radical activism has had the effect of isolating those who are still here – those who can’t flee to Northern & Western metropolises.
We want to create something that centers those who are consistently forgotten – queer people, trans women, people of color, poor folks, and rural folks. There’s magic here, in the South, and we want capture that.
How have queer and activist communities in Atlanta shaped your vision for Peach Tea?
Atlanta has particularly bright activist & queer/trans communities, and I’ve been lucky to come into my own in this city. There’s a lot of wonderful activists and organizations doing wonderful things. I’d especially like to reference intersectional organizations such as Southern Fried Queer Pride, Southerners On New Ground, SNaP Coalition, and SisterSong for doing great work for women and queer/trans people of color.
Southern queer identity is distinct, and it follows that our activism down here is distinct from what you’d find elsewhere. I think that’s beautiful. To some extent, our isolation from the big (assimilation-focused) activist groups has allowed us to pursue a course of liberation for the marginalized in our own way.
What do you expect will be the biggest challenges for women and the LGBTQ communities of the South in the next few years?
I think our fight remains fundamentally the same. A lot of people are understandably and rightfully scared right now, but down here, folks have always just been trying to survive. That alone is an act of resistance. It’s the everyday acts that count when you’re living in a world that wants you dead or worse.
What are you hopes for the magazine?
To go back a bit, bell hooks speaks extensively about “centering the margins”, a philosophy I’ve wholeheartedly adopted for myself and for Peach Tea. Femmes, particularly trans women, particularly those of color, those living in poverty, those living with HIV/AIDS, those with physical and intellectual disabilities, mental illness, etc. are all uniquely and multiply marginalized, even in our communities. It’s time for that to change. These are the voices that need to be at the center of the conversation, and my hope is that Peach Tea will play a part in elevating our voices.
What’s on the horizon?
Lord knows! Right now, we want to focus on publishing as many voices as possible. We’ve got a few plans for improving infrastructure and promoting the content we’re hoping to put out. It’s still very early days for us and our website is a little too barren! We’re taking it all one day at a time, focusing on laying the groundwork and expanding our reach in the here and now to make for a successful tomorrow. We’d like to assemble a larger team and put out regular content.
Any favorite Southern women? Or non-binary or trans Southerners?
Well, ain’t it hard to choose? All the women I meet on the ground inspire me the most.
To talk about figures, I can’t help but mention Laverne Cox. Growing up, I couldn’t imagine I’d ever see girls like us doing this work with an audience like hers, and the fact that she’s a black trans woman at that has been a long time coming. It’s black trans women who are really struggling.
I’m also a big admirer of superstars Beyonce and Solange. After all, they dropped two of the best albums of 2016.
But here in Atlanta we’ve got our own superstars. Miss Cheryl Courtney-Evans, founder of TILTT (Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth), which happens to have been the first advocacy organization serving trans women & men in Atlanta, passed recently. That’s a loss the whole community felt. Other names that come to mind include Raquel Willis, who works at the Transgender Law Center, and Taylor Alxndr, cofounder of Southern Fried Queer Pride. I love the work Taylor and SFQP are doing to elevate QTPOC artists in the city.