Megan Falley: Author and Slam Poet
an interview by Isabel Kuh
Megan Falley is a queer femme author of two books and a slam poet.
Why did you choose to focus on LGBTQ+ issues and identity in your poetry?
Because of the way I look — which is most often long-haired and red-lipsticked, I’ve not had the experience of “coming out of the closet” so much as coming out of a revolving door — meaning it’s a near-daily experience for me. I come out to the woman fitting me for a bra who says, “your boyfriend will really like this.” I come out to the person sitting next to me on the airplane who, when I say I am visiting my partner, assumes a “he.” The media historically pigeonholed lesbians and queer women into one caricature of themselves that I have never fit, so there is something of a power, I think, in focusing my show on queerness. People don’t often assume gay when I’m looking at me, but then my poems are about queer sex, gender-variance, and loving folks who were designated female at birth. Fucking with people is a form of activism. I’m calling this upcoming run of shows the #TooGayToFunctionTour. <3
What has your self love and confidence journey been like? Why is body positivity so important for girls to discuss?
Ongoing and endless! I remember being nine years old and wearing a dress I’d just got from Kids R Us. It was purple, black and gray. It had roses on it. I felt beautiful. And my uncle pointed to my stomach and said “you’re getting a pot belly” with disgust in his mouth. And in that instance I remember becoming un-beautiful. By 12 my mom had left a brochure for fat camp on my kitchen table. I went. For five years. Disordered eating and warped body image has been a struggle for two decades of my life. This last year was the first year that I can remember not being on some sort of diet. Not actively trying to lose weight. The amount of brain space this has taken up, the amount of obsessing over my physicality, my clothes, the amount of tears I have given to dressing rooms and bathing suits could have been used to do so much more in this world. This is a patriarchal and capitalistic goal: to keep women obsessed with their body’s wrongness so they are NOT taking over the world. And it’s hard to figure out how to put an end to that. But one thing I KNOW we can put an end to is how women, particularly femmes, wield patriarchy’s weapons against each other. I expect that teenage boys will tell me to kill myself from behind their keyboard’s on videos of “Fat Girl” on the internet. But then leading feminists in the community post attacks on my body as well. Women kill themselves, literally and figuratively, over this stuff. It’s so important to unite on this front and not be misogynists in feminist clothing - you know? If WE are not going to promote body positivity with each other - what chance do we have? What chance does a younger generation have at loving themselves well? At not being so obsessed with their “flaws” so they can do the rad work they are capable of?
Do you think our culture’s discussions around sexual assault, specifically on college campuses, have changed for the better? How can we improve?
Maybe some campuses. But like with the Brock Turner case — not really. Campuses are a microcosm of society. Society does not handle rape cases well. However, comprehensive education about what sexual assault is (not just a stranger jumping out of an alley in a ski mask — but most often happening between people who know each other previously and intimate partners), bystander prevention methods, healthy consent practices, and open DIALOGUE (rather than fear), plus real consequences for committing these horrific acts, would GREATLY HELP. We need to not be so afraid of the word rape that we resist talking about how to prevent it from happening.
What is your opinion on various colleges coming out against safe spaces and trigger warnings?
Well, I do believe that you cannot claim “Safe Space” ever. I’ve heard the term “safer Space” used, which means an active commitment to dismantling hate speech and harmfulness in an environment. But again, I’m a cisgendered white woman. What is a “safe space” for me will often not be a “safe space” for a woman of color, for a trans woman. So it’s important to ask: who is moderating the safety of a space, and how? Given the privileges of this person, what might they miss? To hear something called a “safe space” and then to experience oppression or microaggression within it is perhaps more damaging than an environment where a person never let their guard down because they never assumed safety. So safer feels much more appropriate, nuanced, and forgiving.
Additionally - trigger warnings are tricky things to me. Who can say what triggers us? Campus police roaming outside the door can trigger many, and not phase others. Discussing sexual assault may not trigger a survivor, but the scent of Marlboros might. It’s impossible to say. Our entire lives will be filled with things that trigger us and therefore push us towards naming the feelings, shifting the energy, growing and healing. Probably my alarm clock should just say “trigger warning” to prepare me for the day. While I think it’s important to let people know about content they might be about to witness being tough for many, I find trigger warnings can be both excessive and not even close to comprehensive enough.
How do you stay inspired? What inspires you to write poems?
It’s probably the least poetic answer ever but: deadlines. Setting goals for myself, or approaching contests and dates, really motivates me to write. Nothing inspires me like a new project. I have a lot of post-it notes and giant calendars and to-do lists, for sure. Multi-colored pens are amazing.
What’s one of your favorite lines that you’ve written? Why?
Oh wow! That’s such a blush-worthy and impossible question! I can’t answer that for poetry. But I’ve been dipping my toes into music lately, and I’m working on a song where the entire chorus is just repeating the line, “don’t take your ring off.” I like that. I like how music, unlike poetry, can repeat a line a dozen times and it just gets more meaningful.
Is there a quote or motto that you believe in or is really important to you?
“I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be inspire me and not terrify me.” - Tracee Ellis Ross.
Is there another form of creative expression that you love?
I’m an extremely artistic person: whether that means writing a short story or redecorating a room or designing a website or just taking a photo for instagram — almost anything creative gets me going. But I have a total melt down if I have to do anything with the DMV or taxes or health insurance or or or…Like screaming crying curled in a corner kind of a meltdown.
I’m working on it.
What advice would you give to teenagers who feel to small or insignificant to make a difference?
It might be a little Hallmark — but kindness. I think a lot would have gone differently in my life if I had always prioritized kindness, if I had always prioritized valuing every person equally. It’s a lesson I am learning hard in my adult life. A “difference” in the world doesn’t have to happen behind a microphone or get featured in a teen magazine. Knowing that love is an incredibly powerful force and choosing it is bigger than literally everything.
If you weren’t afraid of anything, what would you do? Is there a place you’ve always wanted to travel to?
Well I’m certainly not afraid of travel. Airplanes make me sleepy. I lived in New Zealand for six months and I am always up for globetrotting. If I wasn’t afraid of anything, I’d sing more.
How are you a badass in your daily life?
I am in therapy. I am working hard on knowing myself intimately, and presenting myself authentically to the world. I am in a vigorous study of self-evaluation as a way to cause less harm. I am committed to choosing love, to seeing myself and everyone else as wonderful and shitty and ugly and glorious all at once. To being non-binary in almost all of my thinking. Also, I wear crop-tops.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes! I’m booking shows and workshops for 2017 and I’d love to meet some fellow badasses. Check out www.meganfalley.com and make sure you sign up for the newsletter to get some free monthly goodies! XO!