The first time I saw Shea Diamond’s (pronounced like She-A Diamond) hard-hitting video for her amazing song “I Am Her,” I was in love. It’s a total banger that forces you to move your body. The video is shot in gorgeous black and white and, like the song itself, it celebrates what it’s like being a trans woman out in society, even if sometimes it’s hard and ugly. This video and song were by far one of my favorites of the year. The song has a killer and infectious beat and Diamond’s vocals over it are powerful and rich, they feel like a warm summer day. Shea Diamond is a superstar in the making; once you get a taste you won’t be able to forget her.
Now, I’m feeling so beyond honored and blessed that I get to premiere this new live version of “I Am Her.” Diamond’s powerful anthem becomes even more powerful when it’s stripped down like this. In this black and white video we see Diamond singing a capella into a mic, alone in a room, standing in front of a blown up image of trans revolutionary icons Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera marching and proudly being themselves. When Diamond sings “There’s an outcast in everybody’s life and I am her,” you can feel all of her trans woman of color ancestors singing along and looking tall as they do it.
Diamond told me that she released this new version “in honor of the forgotten founding mothers of the Stonewall movement Marsha P. Johnson aAnd Sylvia Rivera. Without these pioneers there would no LGBT/TGNC liberation. They are the real inspiration behind this song! It was their fearlessness and power that paved the way.”
If you’ve slept on Diamond so far, she’s a Black trans woman singer/songwriter born in Little Rock, Arkansas, who now lives in New York City. She ran away from home at 14, and a few years later she was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in a men’s prison. According to her manager, Shea says that “I Am Her” “means that no matter who the world treats me, no matter if I’m rejected, accepted, denied or misunderstood, I will continue to live out my truth as Shea Diamond! It was in losing the world that I found myself & the will to keep living as the woman I am proud to be.”
2017 is going to be hard as hell, especially for women, disabled people, queer people, trans people and people of color, and especially for people who are more than one of those things. “I Am Her,” and Shea Diamond’s live video for it are going to be things that I return to over and over again to find pride in the fact that I am beautiful, I am strong, I am powerful and I am her.