A Conversation with Myla
Q: So tell me a little bit about yourself: your name, pronouns if you're comfortable, and you don't have to share anything about your identity if you don't want to.
A: Okay, so my pronouns are they and them. I recently came out as trans, like a couple of months ago, and just kind of realized that I had spent a lot of my life as a trans man without realizing it. And actually I identify as Demifluid not trans but I tell everyone I’m Trans or Queer because no one really understands what Demifluid is! So it’s nice talking to someone who gets it! I have also been extremely shy about talking about my gender and disability issues so I tend to keep myself anonymous but I’m happy to talk about stuff and be more open for this interview/website.
Q: Awesome! You're a creator, right?
Q: Can you share what it's been like being queer and disabled in creative spaces and trying to get your work out there?
A: Um, so I just started with a like a gender-neutral game that I made about museums and collections of museums. And that's basically where I am. And I kind of started with that. I do a lot of drawing and stuff. And I recently started like writing about my disabilities.
A lot of the time people just kind of go, Oh, but you don't look dyslexic or you don't look like you have mental health issues and like. What? Or my favourite one: you obviously don't have mental health issues, you're just making it up (a line manager said that to my face once). But I’m like what does mental health ACTUALLY look like? I'm like, yeah I do have those issues.
Excuse me. But yeah. So I think like, my main disability is that I have a lot of mental health issues. So I have dyslexia, I have ADHD, and I have something called Dissociative Identity Disorder. So my accent might change a lot depending on who's talking. And I probably won't look at the screen a lot of the time. Also, I got recently diagnosed with osteoarthritis. So I have that to deal with in the future. I have a very limited window in which my creativity can actually work, my body literally feels like it’s falling apart.
These hands (shows hands)! So within about like, 10-15 years, they'll probably stop working, which is fantastic for me (sarcasm). So I have to try and be as creative as I possibly can in the time I have left. And with that diagnosis, it kind of like, it really hit home how much time I'd kind of wasted on not being creative? Does that make sense?
Yeah, I understand that.
Okay, I'll stop talking. (Both laugh).
Q: I've seen you talk a lot about the importance of having access to art and museums too. Do you feel like art has impacted your identity and vice versa, like have your identities come through in your art? You talked about your game.
A: Art has saved my life multiple times because when you're in pain, you try and find a way to get rid of that pain. And for me, the only way to do it is to be creative. And like Picasso said, to quote a person, that you know, there's no art without suffering. So like you do you make art to get away from your pain, which is kind of really my core feeling around that is that if it doesn't have an emotive response, or if it doesn't have if it doesn't come from somewhere, a feeling, then it's worthless. Because it can be perfect, it can be absolutely perfect in terms of drawing skill, but if there's no meaning behind it, then what's the point in it?
Yeah? And museums, I'm just really passionate about that whole side of things, especially after working there for a year and realizing that it's still entirely dominated by a white cis majority. And you're just kind of like, this is not okay. Like, museums are meant to be open spaces inclusive for everybody. And they are not. You don't see any brown people in those places, because, they're not for those people. They're made for white people and people who are cis. They say things like art transcends race. Like, no, it doesn't. Like it never has.
That's just something you say to feel better about, like not including brown people.
And so like, I went into the art world, and it was the first job I'd had where there was another brown person who worked with me, and I was like, Oh, my God, what? Another person who's brown? They have three of us now in like the one building, it's a miracle. But still, when you went into museums 90% of the time, or say 99% of the time, the Front of House staff, the service staff, are all white. Like there's only like, not like people of colour who are in like, cleaning jobs, maybe. And in the museum world, obviously, like there's a few people of colour in like higher up management roles and things like that. But you never see them on the shop floor. You never see them. It’s a shame because I think if more people of colour were in these jobs then the diversity would fix a lot of issues. I should say at this point I also identify as ‘brown’ instead of person of colour, partially because it’s hilarious and partially because… well, I am tan/brown.
Q: You have to wonder how much it really—how much of a difference does it really make when we hire people of colour but no one sees them.
A: Like, okay, there was one time I walked into a National Gallery in the UK and within half an hour, I had to leave because I was so angry because every single painting was of white people. The whole place was run—like there was nobody of colour, like in the place. And it was just like, basically screaming at your face like this is a white cis space, go away and almost borderline white pride.
The artists are white, their subjects are white, and everyone here is white.
Yep. And also straight. There was no, there was no like, potentially politically endangering images. There was a lot of like, just like, white themed art from the old days. And you're like, Okay, cool. It's old art. And you're just like, okay, yes, it was painted by a really amazing person. But if you go from the premise that there is no bad art in real life, because you can't because art is so subjective, then all of this is terrible. Because like, there's nothing, there's no scope, if that makes sense.
And it's just basically an entire Hall of going "look how great white people are!" And no offence to yourself. I don’t hate white people. They are people and I judge everyone based on their actions as a person rather than the colour of their skin.
I mean, my partner is white. And like, all most of my friends are white. And it's because I grew up in like a white-dominated society. But sometimes you're just kind of going some spaces should be for everyone. And they should mean it and should actually be for everyone. And I'm going to start ranting about museums now. Because I could do this for days. Like literally, I have done this for days. My Twitter feed is just like museum rants and pictures of dogs.
Yeah, I went to an art school and we got free admission to a nearby Art Institute. I think I've gone a handful of times because it's just I find no interest in it. It's a lot of old dead, white straight dudes and the drawings they did of naked women. And that's kind of the whole thing.
Yep. Yep. Yep. Yes, there's a lot of that. There is a Twitter account called Museum Bums that you should follow. It's run by two guys who are trying to raise awareness of prostate cancer by basically posting pictures of butts in museums.
I love it.
It's amazing and I love it. And there's like, there's a lot of movements in the UK about trying to get away from this stuffy white-centred, cisgender museum, and kind of open up the conversation a lot more. Luckily, the museum I was working in has got a lot of contemporary work. So they have the old artists, but they have a lot of new stuff. And a lot of it is a lot more political and a lot more challenging. Like there's like a giant picture of like vaginas, just on the wall. And I'm like, Yes, this is amazing. Yeah. And like they, they have like a whole gallery specifically for interpretations of the body. And I'm just like, this is such a big thing.
That's so neat.
Yeah, I mean, they had that before, but it was very, like, safe, I think, a lot of the time. Yeah. Or it was like kind of bits and pieces kind of muddled together because they didn't have enough space. Yeah. And now they've got like, the whole gallery is about interpretation of self. And there's like a picture of you like a jacket, and nothing else. It looks like somebody's wearing it and they're just like, there's nobody there. Which is really cool. I love it.
Q: We kind of touched on this, but—so I think straight cis people and abled people kind of, they have their own ideas of what we need. What are things you feel like they prioritize don't really matter to you?
A: I think like in my last job, it was really great because they were just like, what do you need and also, what training can we do to know more about this? And they kind of went around it in like the really like the best way possible. And they were just I was kind of so like, on like bad days, I got to work from home. So it was like in the midst of getting diagnosed time. So like my DID diagnosis is really, really early. So its—I only got diagnosed like, last year or the year before? Well, actually no, like last year, like kind of like summer last year, I got diagnosed. And so it's in terms of the DID like people who usually talk about it, are like 5-10 years down the line after being diagnosed. So I'm just kind of like, I'm new to this what's happening?
Even though I'm not new to it, so I've had it my whole life for most of my life. A lot of people just kind of get really mad at you for talking about your pain. Have do you have you experienced this as well, you're nodding? Yeah, they get like so angry. They're just like, how dare you make me deal with your issues? And I'm like, I literally said a sentence. You have not, this is not on you. And like, people would just be really offended that you talk about things. And you're just like, why is this offensive? Like, why is this an issue?
Um, so yeah, I think a lot of people get angry at you. And then they kind of like, in my, one of my previous jobs, they're just like, yeah, you don't have a mental illness. Like and like they did it even existing or trying to, like shut you down in order to like, get away from this uncomfortable conversation of suddenly saying, you know, I have this issue, and this is how we can deal with this going forward. And like, yeah, like, they were just like, how dare you like, talk about this? And like, pretending I hadn't said anything and not reporting things to the right of people, or just trying to get me fired? And let go, because they don't want to be around. And like a lot of friends like you tell things too. And they're just like, okay, and then suddenly they've disappeared.
I recently did an acting thing in Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the UK. And they, it was basically like, you have to sit opposite a stranger and tell them everything about your life. Oh, like it like a very small snippet while staring directly at them for two minutes. Yeah. And I was like, Fuck, people are gonna, like, throw things at me. You know, it's gonna get heated. But actually, it was really beautiful. And I'm just really sad that doesn't happen in everyday life. Yeah, like that space doesn't have like, you people go in expecting this experience. And then they go away again, and they close up again. And you're just kind of like just be that open all the time and it'll be fine. And that's actually like kicked off for me in a big way, like opening up about my disability and stuff. Because if strangers or people I don't know, like entirely, if they start connecting up with me on that level, then why can't everyone else? Like, you know, people know and are supposed to care about you know about it. And like when my partner first found, like, my husband first found out about like, the whole DID thing he was just like, Okay. And like, just kind of ignored it as well. And I think it was, like, easier for me to pretend that a wasn't happening as well, just to kind of like, make it like an easier transition for everyone.
And now kind of going no, this is definitely a thing. I should say when I married my partner, I identified as a straight female and then through the process of the last year, I kind of was like, Oh, wait a minute, I'm not even female. I wasn't even female when I got married. But my partner is like a straight male. So yeah, he's probably listening to this right now going, what? He's in another room.
Q: We talk about things like Disability Justice and queer justice and things like that. What is justice actually mean to you? Like, what is the future you want to see for like queer folks and disabled folks?
A: Okay, so that's like a lot. So justice to me, it is definitely totally utterly blind, maybe even deaf. I don't think justice exists in the world. I think we want to exist but it doesn't. And that a lot of the time, it feels like the world is just made up of really horrible people. And there's—or really nice people. There's just like a pendulum swinging back and forth. And it's kind of like, you know, basically chaos, which we expect, but there's no set way to get justice. Like, it either happens, or it doesn't, to me. And if it doesn't happen, then, you know, guess the pendulum was swinging in the wrong way for you today.
In terms of the future for disabled and queer folk, I think that people need to be more open about it, and they need to talk about it more, and they need to just like, let it go and connect up. And just like, say, this person in front of me has these issues. And trying to like, understand. So, for example, there's games about like mental health, and you can play somebody who's really ridiculously depressed, and go through their life and try and help them. And a lot of the time, they end up just like, you know, dying, but like some days, you know, you help them get better. And like, it kind of helps people who have never felt that way, understand what it is to feel that way. But also, maybe also identify things for them. So like, the more that we talk about it, the more people understand what it is, and how we, how like what, like how we are no different from everyone else, but also, still being ourselves. Does that make sense?
Q: That was great! Is there anything that I didn't ask about that you want to add or share?
A: You didn't ask about the definition of the DID, so don't know if you need that?
I know a few folks with the DID so I was familiar.
That's really interesting, because like, so many more people are coming out as DID now than there used to be because people just kind of, like LGBTQIA, they just kind of denied the existence of it altogether. And they're just like, it's not treatable with medication, it doesn't exist.
So now that they're kind of going actually kind of those exist, and it's like a kind of a, an issue. And like, people were just like, this a lot more people with more, like, you know, multiple personalities, then we realized, shit. And like, l know, three people who are kind of like, either on the cusp of it or like, fully into it. And like, obviously the internet personalities of DID. There's like a few YouTubers who talk about it openly and stuff.
I started an anonymous blog, and talking about—it kind of is quite depressing. And it's just talking about pain and kind of letting go and stuff because the more outlets I have to talk about that sort of stuff, the easier it gets for me.
Q: Is there anything you want to plug any of your work or social media that you want to share?
A: My awesome, awesome game which I love but is actually really badly made and about five minutes in length. I am away to go and do queer poetry night tomorrow. So if that is filmed on YouTube, then I will share a link. And also my soon to be not so anonymous blog. I have an anonymous twitter account you can also follow @SundayPost_Town (like my blog).
Yeah. I mean, the game is kind of anonymous anyway so I'm happy for it to be shared. Like, yeah, I mean, if there's fall back from it then I'm like, whatever. But people are kind of like, okay. And like the beginning of the game, because so many straight people were just like, oh, I don't understand, like the gender thing, like they and them. It can be plural and that's my only issue with it. And I'm just like, cool. So I put the disclaimer on the front of the page like going, Yeah, so there's gender neutrality in this game, and there, you know, just be warned ahead of time. So like, a lot of people were just kind of, I think, kind of made a lot of shock waves in the museum world for a hot minute, which I didn't really anticipate. Because I was kind of like, but this is normal. Like everybody talks about this. Apparently they don't! And like, basically, it's the first ethical computer game ever (maybe) to interact directly with collections in that way. Which is kind of awesome?
And I didn't realize until I released it, and the museum people who saw it were like, what is this amazingness? Because like, there's no game out there that actually—well, okay, ethically connects up, because there is a board game. And it's all about colonial museums, and it's awful. So I'm going to say, okay, ethically connects up, because they're basically going "go and steal stuff from other cultures to make this a really great museum!"
Yeah. Yeah. And they labelled it as the Golden Age of Museums game.
Oh, that's awful. Holy shit.
Yeah. And they connect up with museums and museums to help them make this. And I'm like, Ha! NOPE!
So that's incredibly unethical.
Yep. Yeah, so I was like, I got really angry about this. I was like, Okay, I'm gonna make a game, kind of counteract that, as well as show other people in the museum sector what you can actually do to connect up because the gaming community is such a massive user base that we're not tapping into. And why aren't we tapping into that? Why?
I've never seen gaming and museums teamed up, and it makes so much to do that.
Yeah. Have you played the game?
No, I actually, I saw it before and I was like, Oh, I know what I'm doing afterwards.
Yeah, so the other person who made the game with me as my partner and my sibling Laurie. And so they made the queer space flags that kind of went viral a couple years ago, and the kind of go viral every semi-viral every like LGBTQIA month and stuff. So they're definitely worth checking out.