“What does freedom look like for you as a queer BIPOC?” This is the question from a friend that inspired Sharon Lee De La Cruz to write and draw I’m a Wild Seed, a fun, vibrant, and moving exploration of her journey of self-discovery.
I’m a Wild Seed
Sharon Lee De La Cruz
The title of this graphic memoir made me think of Octavia E. Butler’s novel, Wild Seed. Though De La Cruz is not writing about the romance of an ancient pair of shapeshifting aliens, there is something to be said about the theme of changing one’s self to fit in and the freedom to be one’s self when one finds community. Through a collection of short anecdotes, beautifully rendered with colourful and often comedic imagery, De La Cruz tells her own story of finding and defining her space as a queer BIPOC woman.
As the parent of a queer, trans teen, I have been inspired by my child’s own journey of self-discovery, but my joy comes with the bittersweet understanding that many children — and even adults — do not find unconditional love and acceptance, and as a result, end up with experiences like De La Cruz’s — or far worse. De La Cruz acknowledges that prejudice against Black trans women is especially a problem, and, until Black trans women are finally safe, she will not feel free as a queer BIPOC person, stressing the importance of intersectionality throughout the book.
One of the stories she shares involves discovering her queerness through watching Xena: The Warrior Princess, an experience that many will find familiar. But it is also through Xena that De La Cruz discovered the repression necessary to be accepted within a heteronormative society.
As a half Puerto Rican, half Dominican person, De La Cruz’s experience covers the intersection of race and queerness. The book spends time with her Puerto Rican mother and exploring De La Cruz’s identity as a Black and Latine woman. The deep brown of her skin was a source of confusion and, of course, racism. But I appreciate the love and care De La Cruz gives to the colour of her character’s skin, as well as others in the book.
She also writes about her understanding of the concept of safe space, tying it to her learning about queer history, which includes events such as the Stonewall uprising. Though much of I’m a Wild Seed is told with vibrantly coloured expressive caricatures of De La Cruz, maintaining the pentimenti in some panels, the creator is more careful and respectful when the story delves into darker areas of history and mental health struggles.
Even with the more serious moments within the memoir, I’m a Wild Seed maintains a sense of positivity and hope, with De La Cruz sharing her personal joy in finally feeling comfortable enough in her own sexuality to share her story in hopes of helping others find the same experience for themselves. The memoir is also packed with references intended to serve as jumping-off points for one’s own research into various topics, from Stonewall to the racist medical practices of the past and racial shame. The book closes with more specific resources and the call to action, encouraging that research on the path to self-discovery.