Autostraddle Calendar Girls 2014: Parneet is Miss May

Sometimes, SOMETIMES you can’t cover your face with smokin’ hot lesbians. When this happens why not cover your walls with them instead!? That’s where the 2014 Autostraddle calendar comes in! If you haven’t picked up the 2013 calendar yet, you should probs get right on that — they’re now available in our store for only $5! For 2014 prepare to have your mind blown, among other things.


Parneet is Miss May

miss_may_1

I. am…

I am queer.
In that, I am undefined.
Yet I continue to exist.
Locating snapshots of myself in others.
Those that reflect even a sliver of me, illuminate my very existence.

I am queer.
Out of that, I become strange.
Estranged by others who wish to erase the being I choose to embody.
Desperate leaps to alleviate their own lack.

I am queer.
Beside that, I am whole.
A self created out of subversion.
A collection of what is not, to make something that is.

I am queer.
On top of that, I remain beautiful.
A mosaic of unknowing.
Creating a life out of uncertainty,
In hopes of becoming found.

I am queer.
Under that, I am light.
A particle of sun spark made of that which binds us.
Breath and death; a cycle of existence beyond our understanding.

We are queer, as is the universe.
For we can never fully grasp ourselves.
Slowly, I am learning to embrace this.
As I work to become a part of this universal undoing.

I am queer…
I am…
I.

As an artist and activist, this poem is a reflection of my journey in understanding
and creating my queer identity.

miss_may_2

Get to Know Parneet

Where are you from?

I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba but would identify as originally coming from Edmonton, Alberta. Shout out to all my amazing prairie homos! However, even more originally, I identify as Indo-Canadian, as my parents emigrated from India to Canada over 20 years ago. Another shout out to all my amazing indo-homos! I’ve been living in Montreal with my partner Angie, and her dog Sid (the not-so-vicious) for two years now, and it’s been an incredible romantic and mind blowing/growing experience.

Occupation/Passion:

I am so excited to announce that I graduated this month as a therapist after a seven year-long journey in psychology. I finally completed my masters in counselling psychology, which has been such a privilege to obtain. It’s been such a self-actualizing experience trying to navigate myself within a system that I live in and benefit from while still trying to deconstruct aspects of it that I do not fully agree with. I identify as a social justice/feminist/narrative therapist and so much of my personal life is integrated into my practice, because I see my own life as a story; a construction that I have a great deal of power in changing and re-creating. I love creating safe spaces, and I find the work I do to be radical and subversive in that it challenges the patriarchal notion that emotion is irrational and excessive and rationale is the highest form of understanding. There is great wisdom in emotions, and I work to nourish that and support others to give weight to their feelings.

Aside from psychology, I have a million other interests and one life really does not feel like enough time to live them all! I do have a great passion for spoken word, hip-hop and jazz. I suppose that’s the storyteller in me. I find music, song and spoken word such powerful tools to express my passion for social justice, freedom and love. Although I’ve been writing poetry since I was a child, I didn’t start getting serious about hip-hop until my best friend/soul mate Sami and I started jamming together and we both realized we had a lot to say and were able to do it with crazy flow. She’s living in California, but I’m hoping to convince her to live with me so we can get on with our bad selves. I also play classical Indian Sitar, and I am really interested in creating jazz/hip-hop/classical fusions with all the incredible artists that live in Montreal. A lot of time and practice is needed, but it’s well worth the experience, and with the abundance of time I have, I’m excited to start practicing!

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Why did you want to be part of this project?

As a queer woman of color, I grew up identifying and comparing myself to patriarchal, white and straight standards. I always felt inadequate. It was really a constant sense that I was not enough of anything. At home, it was patriarchy. At school, it was whiteness. In society at large, it was a wretched combination of all three oppressions. My very existence is subversive in that I exist despite being told and showed not to. I live for this. I thrive on knowing this. I work to embody this more freely, more lovingly, more passionately.

When I applied to be in the Autostraddle Calendar Girl photo shoot, it was my first serious act of getting out there as a model. That act alone has such deep roots because it marks a long journey of healing and challenging all the kinds of oppression I experienced, and reclaiming my body and my identity. Taking the leap to be a part of this calendar, not only sealed my outing that I am queer, but reflected the internal work I have been doing for all of my conscious life in believing I am lovable and desirable. I have come such a long way in rebuilding a loving relationship with myself that is compassionate, generous and kind. So much of the real work we do is done in silence; beyond skin and scars. These photos capture not just my physical body, but more so, an internal state and body of self-love and acceptance.

What did you take away from the project?

There were three major gems that I took with me from my trip to California for the Autostraddle photo shoot. First, my recognition that I am supported and loved. I wouldn’t have been able to financially afford the trip to California if it wasn’t for the generous support of my partner and friends, who raised more than enough money for me to fly down there. We hosted an auction, and everyone came bearing wonderful skills and gifts to auction off, which humbled me beyond words. To me, that made the trip incredibly meaningful before I even boarded the plane.

Second, I met so many beautiful queer women, who found and reclaimed power in their own lives in creative, industrious and meaningful ways. It was so inspiring to be surrounded by powerhouses! Meeting other queer women of color was especially moving, because I found parts of myself in them, and it can be hard to feel understood as a brown queer person. Everyone in the photo shoot was so inspiring, and I hope to visit California again and surround myself with such beauty.

Third and most prominent was the feeling I had during the actual photo shoot. I had made a promise to myself that the purpose of this trip was to seal and symbolize loving and accepting myself, and I felt that manifested in the beautiful garden we stood in during the shoot. I will never forget that moment because like meditation, my mind often wanders to critical and judgmental places easily. That day however, I was Zen. I had fun, I felt sexy and fierce, and the feelings and thoughts that were happening inside myself were just as incredible and joyous as what was happening outside. That moment sealed the trip for me because I was content. I had shared a moment with myself that was loving and forgiving, and I found myself believing that I was enough. I sealed a shift in my consciousness and took it home with me as a gift. I am grateful to now be able to share that gift with all of you.

I love you all deeply for being and existing. I really do. Please visit Montreal, we are amazing here.

miss_may_3


Artist’s Statement from Robin Roemer:

I want to start off by saying I wish I had a few weeks to photograph each of our 130 applicants, because they were all beautiful and inspiring! We are honored so many of you wanted to participate and we hope, at some point, we can work with each one of you. I mean that most sincerely.

This year we went through our applicants based on the survey first, the photos sent in to me had little to do with who our final picks were. We chose based on answers to a variety of questions. We wanted people who really had a sense of what the project was all about, were readers of Autostraddle, and were involved in their communities at home. We wanted women bursting with energy and love. Second, we wanted to represent our incredibly diverse our community: beauties of all different shapes and styles and backgrounds and gender expressions. Finally we found ourselves with 13 models — its 2013 now so twelve just wouldn’t do — who we feel represent some of the most brilliant our readership has to offer. I hope each of you, especially those of you who applied and were not chosen this year, enjoy this year’s calendar.

Crew:
Co-created by Robin Roemer and Sara Medd
Photographed by Robin Roemer
Wardrobe styling by Sara Medd
Hair by Taylor Stevenson
Make-up by Marla Verdugo
Line Production, Location Scouting and Catering: Sarah Croce
Design, Location Scouting, Production assistant: Alex Vega
Lighting Assistant: Kamila Baker
Production Assistant: Christina Bly
Puppy Wrangler: Mollie Thomas

Special Note: As of December 2010, we request that the comments on Calendar Girls posts, unlike every other post on this site, be exclusively positive and remain on-topic. These posts exist to celebrate women, so any  criticisms of the model, her appearance or the appearance of the Calendar Girls as a whole will be deleted. Furthermore, any direct questions/concerns about the project in general can be directed to robin at autostraddle dot com!

Profile photo of Robin

Robin is the founder and CEO of Robin Roemer Photography. When she’s not busy photographing portraits, fashions or famous people, she’ll be sharing her photos and musings here on autostraddle. Robin is an aggressive hugger and likes traveling and cute shoes. If you want, she will also photograph your gay wedding or your cute girlfriend. Follow her on twitter. Contact: robin[at]autostraddle.com

Robin has written 82 articles for us.

56 Comments

  1. Thumb up 8

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    I’ve never commented on Autostraddle before, but I just wanted to say that I totally get what it’s like to feel like you’re sitting in the middle of an oppression stew! It’s so hard having your colour, your gender and the way you love being marked out as “wrong”- but you just have to remember that there’s no right answer to “who am I?”, except “I’m drop dead gorgeous, and?” x

  2. Thumb up 5

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    I want this calendar more and more with each month that goes by. I can’t decide which of these women is the most beautiful, badass and inspiring so I won’t even try. Parneet, you are fantastic and 10000x more eloquent than me! (That goes for both prose and poetry.)

  3. Thumb up 3

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    I saw your picture and I squealed out loud (Indo-Canadians UNITE). And then read your poem about four times and smiled to myself and was so very moved. And then I read when you were from originally and squealed again (PRAIRIE Indo-Canadians UNITE!)!

    You, Parneet, are beautiful and lovely. Thank you for sharing so much of your story with us :)

  4. Thumb up 13

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    Just so gorgeous! You’re really awesome Parneet!

    And again Robin, your photos are so rich and vibrant this time. I’m in love with them.

    The calendar this year feels like we’re looking in on some sort of queer garden paradise where beautiful women frolic. I want to go there, I don’t know about you.

  5. Thumb up 5

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    Ah! I’m completely blown away by how present you are, in your interview and in your pictures- you are so beautiful and powerful! Congratulations on your graduation! You clearly already are doing and are going to do wonderful, wonderful things :)

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    Parneet, you and your words are so stunning, beautiful, and inspirational! <3 I'm so excited for you and all of the great things you have happening this month and I hope you have the best May ever!

    Please come back to California, we all need a calendar reunion!!!

  7. Thumb up 11

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    This is Malaika’s mom…and I’m so proud of you, Parneet. You are so lovely and eloquent. I remember listening to your poetry at Remedy café and meeting you and your mom. You are an intelligent and inspirational person.

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    I could not be more proud, inspired, and honoured to call such an amazing woman my best friend. You make my mind explode! Your presence and power are tangible even through a computer screen. I love you <3

  9. Thumb up 6

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    YOU GUYS, PARNEET IS AWESOME. I am beyond excited to see you here as Miss May, which is my all-time favourite month. Now everyone can see not only how gorgeous you are, but also how wise, and smart and all-around fantastic you are too! When I was reading what you wrote, I could hear your voice and it brought back you-in- Edmonton memories! And your words + pictures just made me so happy because, I mean, everything is just so spot-on, especially this: “I had shared a moment with myself that was loving and forgiving, and I found myself believing that I was enough.” I’m so happy you had such a wonderful time shooting this…you can really tell! You’re glowing! You guys, if this is how great she is ON THE INTERNET imagine how cool it would be to hang out with her in Edmonton and sit and drink tea and talk for hours! I am sooo lucky! So thank you thank you thank you for sharing your wonderful self with Autostraddle and also thank you for doing a fundraiser to get to LA cause it helped inspire me to do a fundraiser to get to New York. And thanks for helping me get that writing gig with the Sierra Club cause it helped me get this Autostraddle one…and now we both get to be on Autostraddle :) how cool is that?

    also also also CONGRATS ON GRADUATING!!! I remember when you were worried about getting all the necessary credits to get into McGill and now not only d’you have your Master’s but you’re a fucking QUEER CALENDAR MODEL! Way to graduate in style MISS MAY!

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      AWWWW thank you Malaika, that is so sweet of you. I am glad you could hear my voice through the interweb! Sometimes it can be hard to transcend the droneness of the internet but I am happy to hear it resonated. Your words are so kind, they brought a smile on my face. I am so humbled by your generosity and the feelings are purely mutual. You are an amazing writer, and I am happy our journey has been synchronistic! Thank you for being such an incredible support. I am looking forward to visiting you soon! xoxox

  10. Thumb up 2

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    Ooh! I’m getting my masters in family counseling and I also identify as a feminist/narrative therapist. I love the idea that we are made of stories and that they are how we define our experiences. What population do you work with? I’m about to start my internship, hopefully working in a runaway youth shelter and with a LGBT teen support group.
    Congratulations on graduating!

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      That’s so wonderful to hear! I wish I lived closer, we could start a narrative group there :) I am sure you will do amazing. One thing I didnt get a chance to share is that being queer is a therapeutic strength because queerness for me has allowed me to sit and be patient in the unknown…likewise, with clients, it is so important to be able to sit with them in their discoveries without the need to rush to find an answer. Often the answer isn’t the real concern, its the ability to be honest and authentic with oneself to just sit be still. and feel and process the emotions that are present. Queerness helped me with that!

  11. Thumb up 3

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    “As a queer woman of color, I grew up identifying and comparing myself to patriarchal, white and straight standards”. I’m fortunate to live in a multicultural and mostly liberal area, but damn does this resonate with me, especially the patriarchy and straightness that is even more prominent within Asian cultures.

    Brilliant, beautiful, confident, Canadian!

  12. Thumb up 2

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    Parneet you are gorgeous and I love everything you have to say. It was so great to meet you in LA! I’m teaching a literature class right now that I have basically transformed into women’s studies/queer lit. I think this article might be in order for part of tomorrow’s lecture.

  13. Thumb up 1

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    I can’t even, Autostraddle. With all these amazing ladies on here. Everything about you is too cool, Parneet. With regards to the potential jazz/hip hop/Indian classical music project, I am SO keeping my ears open for that. All of those things are relevant to my interests.

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