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JG Danso | “Courageous Voice” |

by , | Aug 22, 2022 |, Courageous Voice, Listen

Show notes:

Excerpt from JG Danso’s new book, “A Thousand Ships”:
Remember this,
I am the birth of pride
left battered on the Hudson tide
Get up, it’s time to march
for me
– JG Danso

Dive in to this courageous and inspiring conversation with queer poet, mom, intersectional equalities advisor, and human resources expert JG Danso as we discuss her new book, her writing process, and how she uses storytelling to empower and share experiences of intersectional queerness over generations.

In this episode we chat about:

  • Queer intersectional organizing and creative writing
  • Marsha P Johnson
  • Finding the time for writing
  • Getting inspiration from visual art and collaborating with other artists
  • Healing through writing
  • Creating with our whole selves
  • Hint.Wien and Vienna’s Queer Writer’s Circle

Find JG Danso at @jgdanso on IG or at
You can also find her book in Vienna at Hartley Books, All Books, Yellow Books, Löwenherz, Orlando Books and Chick Lit.

#jgdanso #queerpoet #intersectionality #athousandships #marshapjohnson

Today is the day you vow to follow your heart and not your fear. If only it were that easy! The Courageous Voice podcast chronicles international artists, creatives, plus a handful of scientists, and their stories of fear, courageousness and creativity. Hosted by singer, storyteller and self-proclaimed joy spreader, Chanda Rule, The Courageous Voice inspires us to share our voices courageously in spite of our fears through courageous conversation and community.



Chanda Rule: So welcome back to the Courageous Voice podcast. I am Chanda Rule and I am excited to welcome J G Danso to the podcast today. Welcome.

J Danso: Hi Chanda. Hi, thanks for having me.

Chanda Rule: Yes, of course. I’m so happy you’re able to join [00:01:00] today. Uh, JG Danso is a queer poet. She is an intersectional equalities advisor, a human resources expert. She is also the resident poet at Villa Vida cafe here in Vienna. She’s an art lover. She is a community and event organizer. Also, she’s a mom. All these beautiful things.

What have I left out?

J Danso: Mm-hmm . Um, all the things to come, but we’ll talk about that.

Chanda Rule: All the things to come. So again, thank you so much for joining me today. And I met JG Danso in Vienna, we’re in the same book club. I love the book club, um, which is a part of Black people in Vienna here. And I have really had the privilege and the honor to see you blossoming in the way that you are sharing your creative voice with the world, which is beautiful. So I wanna talk more about that.

J Danso: [00:02:00] Mm-hmm

Chanda Rule: So, listen, tell us the story about how you stepped out of only writing or mainly writing creatively for yourself and sharing that with the world?

J Danso: Yeah, that’s an interesting story. And you know, we’re in Vienna, lucky to have this Black people in Vienna closed Facebook group, which has been super active established by Denise Van De Cruz is also the owner of Villa Vida cafe, where I am resident poet and community poet to intersectional queer communities.

And, you know, I say that sentence so smoothly now, but it’s been a real journey getting to that point where, um, I am even open to calling myself a poet.

Chanda Rule: Mm.

J Danso: Uh, so thank you for having me on today. I was surprised to be asked simply because I don’t consider myself very courageous at all.

Chanda Rule: Okay, great. So listen, listen.

No, this is great. I’m glad you said that. And, [00:03:00] and, and I will just encourage you to listen back so you can hear all the things that you’re gonna talk about today. All these beautiful, courageous, creative things that you’re doing. Okay. So please tell us the story.

J Danso: Yeah. So, um, many might know from when I do live readings at the cafe on other venues that I began, um, just around before the first Corona lockdown.

So this would be about 2020. It was, little did we know then, one of the last winters where people would be able to get together and meet. And, at that time I was at an event with Denise Van De Cruz, and it was an Irish poetry and whiskey night. And with it being in an Irish night, I figured there would be Irish poets and sharing, et cetera.

And what happened was that we were, as an audience, expected to share poetry. And the host provided the [00:04:00] whiskey and the whiskey was great and all, but I had not brought a poem so I kind of fell into a panic. I thought, oh no, I don’t have a poem to read. I haven’t prepped for this. I over prep for everything.

So, and I began writing in that moment, so that I would have something to read ,and little did I know that most people at that evening shared one of their favorite poets. So, um, you know, writings by Shelley or Maya Angelou, all of these really great, amazing names. And I had already written something by then.

I was on my fourth or fifth whiskey, and I was like, I may as well read it now that it’s done. And that was the catalyst. That feeling of having written something and sharing something that was taken seriously by listeners and people coming to me and saying that it really resonated was a catalyst for me saying, well, I’ll write for myself privately because it felt good.

It released something in my subconscious, some [00:05:00] frustrations or some other emotions that I hadn’t been able to connect with otherwise. And that’s despite trying various "talkie talkie" as I call therapies, which have been helpful, but this seemed to be another healing tool in my toolkit that I hadn’t thought considered accessing before, simply because I always attached "creative writer" to someone who has a lot of free time and I never do.

Chanda Rule: Okay. Oh my goodness. Yes. Yes.

J Danso: But then I went home that day and I had a notebook and I wrote and wrote and wrote for hours on the washing machine, in between loading and unloading the dishwasher, dropping the kids off at school, picking them up or whatever.

So it wasn’t this, Virginia Woolf-style room of woman needing a room of one’s own to think and create that I had envisaged would be absolutely [00:06:00] necessary. There’s definitely more from what I hear of the Toni Morrison kind of, uh, process of writing in between those gaps in a day that you don’t realize are gaps until you put pen to paper and give yourself that time.

Chanda Rule: Mm. I love how you said that and how you shared that. And I know it’s very relevant to me and I know that will be very inspiring to many, many listeners. Thank you. I’m also getting a very strong visual of you on a washing machine writing for like a few minutes. That’s great. So… so tell us about then this leap that you took from writing in these small gaps to your, you had an event. It was called Inaugurations where you then took your writing. Because there wasn’t, I feel like there wasn’t so much time between this. So you took your writing and you reached out to other queer visual artists and you created this beautiful event where you had your [00:07:00] pieces and each piece was also represented by visual art.

So what did you do? What was this process mentally like? You know, what were some of the steps that you took?

J Danso: Mm. So, my way of working is very much connected to the visual. Um, and I am dyslexic, I’m on the dyslexic spectrum and I feel that really, it has something to do with that, that I do look for this connection, or what has worked for me is this connection between the visual and the words.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

J Danso: Um, and it came about in that I had quite a few poems written down, but was somehow lacking in the courage to publish or find a way to share these. I felt kind of naked going forward or thinking of ways to share these that were based on my reading or on the text. And so I began to look for ways to cooperate with other[00:08:00] artists.

And at that time, it was the first Corona lockdown, and there were quite a few artists, Black queer, trans POC artists with amazing talent on Instagram and other platforms sharing images. And so I approached some whose story really resonated with me to ask if I could acquire their work against a small compensation.

And I wasn’t in a financial position to commission specific works to each poem, but by chance, they already had, these are artists who had images and stories that were maybe a couple of years old that were they weren’t using for other reasons, but that really fit the text of my work super well.

Because there is in intersectionality, so many shared experiences.

Chanda Rule: Yeah.

J Danso: And it was a beautiful project of bringing text and artwork [00:09:00] images together in a illustrated poetry, a two poster-sized format were then framed and displayed when in the times where Gastronomy was able to open in Vienna, which was very patchy on-and-off, then displayed in Villa Vida cafe, the queer community cafe, in the district P gas in Vienna.

And actually sending these prints was a way to help to raise money for the cafe from the queer community, whilst Gastronomy was more or less closed.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

J Danso: And internationally, we lost so many queer-centered and affirming spaces during the COVID pandemic, and so this was, I thought something concrete that I could do for a space that meant so much to me.

Um, so to reach out to individual queer trans POC, Black artists whose work are [00:10:00] acquired. And these were artists in South America, in the US, in France, each with a unique story behind their image,

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm

J Danso: and to share that with my poetry story, and then sell those images to raise money to support the queer community cafe, Villa Vida, that does so such great work in intersectional queer communities. That made me feel like I was doing something concrete to help the space get through through the COVID pandemic.

Chanda Rule: Mm. Yeah. I was really lucky to be there that evening. So thank you. Thank you for Inaugurations.

J Danso: Exactly. Yes. The first collection of illustrated poetry then became Inaugurations. And, this was the poetry reading recital that you were at.

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm

J Danso: An amazing energy, a really beautiful unique event. That set the ball rolling. Then I [00:11:00] continued to write and to think in terms of matching an image with a poem.

That visualization also then feeds into the writing process. You know, I edit texts that were finished to some extent based on the image that then comes in and through, and the artist that I connect with and conversations that I have with them. I’ve worked okay with great artists in South Africa, in France, in the US.

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm. So if I’m understanding correctly, you had pieces that you had already written, but you also have pieces that you wrote that were inspired solely by the artwork.

J Danso: No, the… I would always have a very detailed draft slash I would consider it finished of the poem.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

J Danso: And then acquire a specific image that’s already ready from that.

Chanda Rule: Got [00:12:00] it. Okay.

J Danso: And then that, for example, for my first book, as you know, A Thousand Ships. This began as an illustrated poster-size artwork, which was framed and sold to queer community supporters and allies and members of the community to help raise money for the cafe.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

J Danso: Um, and in so doing, it caught the attention of Marsha P. Johnson’s family, and, and this is a poem about the queer Black trans pioneering figure that is Marsha P Johnson, who was such a central figure in the founding of the pride movement, which is now celebrated internationally.

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm. Are we gonna get into the book? Let me show the book.

J Danso: I hope I’ve signed it [00:13:00] for you with a little message about how great you are.

Chanda Rule: Ah, you did sign it for me. Thank you. I definitely wanna talk about this book. Um, so, as JG Danso mentioned, there is a new book. It’s called A Thousand Ships and, it’ll be in the show notes where you can get the book, if you’re in the Vienna area. I don’t know, we’ll have more information, but I do wanna talk about this book. She’s already said that this was in honor of Marsha P. Johnson. But I’m really curious about this connection because on the back it says that there is this connection between the English playwright, Christopher Marlowe, and Marsha P. Johnson.

And how did you, where did you get the inspiration to make this connection? And why?

J Danso: Well, you know, I’m a Brit, as you can probably hear. I was born and raised in east London to parents from Ghana and Sierra Leone. So I am[00:14:00] very much somebody who grew up in the tradition of school, English literature, reading the what’s considered English literature cannon texts of Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe.

Christopher Marlowe is particularly famous for this story, Faust or Faustus, the story of the super intelligent guy who basically sells his soul to the devil in order to have these amazing experiences that he hasn’t been able to access other words with his intellect. And at one point he asked to see Helen of Troy, who is a figure who inspired a number of wars. In terms of the legacy and the visualization around this figure, she was very beautiful.

Uh, and it reminded me of other faces who have launched legacies, especially women’s faces, especially [00:15:00] Black women’s faces.

Chanda Rule: Hmm.

J Danso: Um, and so I consider Marsha P. Johnson and her friends to be Black queer POC faces whose legacy launched ultimately a pride movement, which is always in a kind of tension around how commercial it should be and it should become,

Chanda Rule: Okay.

J Danso: And who is visible and who is not within that movement. Marlowe is often forgotten as the writer

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm

J Danso: of Faust. In fact, it’s thought that he wrote many of Shakespeare’s plays as a draft, but didn’t get any of the credit.

Chanda Rule: Really? Okay.

J Danso: Yeah, Shakespeare picked a lot of stories from a lot of places.

Chanda Rule: I’ve heard!

J Danso: He was very much a copy and paste kind of person, and then added his own pizzazz. And this idea that Marsha P. Johnson and her crew of [00:16:00] other Black queer POC, and in particular trans voices actually, led to so much liberation and the push for equality and a push to fight against police brutality for queer communities.

But ultimately then for everyone, right?

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm

J Danso: Because if Black trans women win, then we all do.

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm.

J Danso: That led to this poem and this question that I ask over and over again in the poem of, when will the rest of society stand up or the rest even of queer communities stand up for trans, and in particular, Black trans women’s bodies and lives in the way that they have for us.

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Now I love this opening, I’m assuming this is from you, that "we have always been here, there, and everywhere. To all we were, all we are, and all we will become. Onwards into the expanse." Is this your dedication?[00:17:00]

J Danso: Yeah, this is my dedication.

Chanda Rule: It’s gorgeous. It’s gorgeous. I have questions. Without giving away the book, but I do have a question. I love how you kept coming back to this concept of the Hudson tide. And so I’m just feeling like it’s representing so much, you know, the birth left battered, the heartbreak left broken, the power resurrected and then the sore spirit emblem revolution. Right? So it’s like, you’re taking us definitely on this journey, like upwards in energy and always referencing that Hudson tide. So am I reading too much into this? Or is there more to the Hudson tide than what I’m thinking?

J Danso: Yeah. Well, it’s on a few levels. The most literal one is that the body of Marsha P. Johnson was found in the Hudson.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

J Danso: Beaten. And at first her death was registered as, uh, suicide which was something that her friends had always [00:18:00] rejected as likely. Um, and because of the horrendous levels of abuse, exploitation, and violence faced by Black trans women on a day to day, right? This is still the case, but also then. The police were not particularly interested in finding out the real cause of death.

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm.

J Danso: It had since been reregistered as the true cause is unknown which is actually similar to Marlowe in that there’s a lot of conspiracy theories around why.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

J Danso: Why he was killed, was it deliberate or was it just a random pub brawl? He was involved in political spying and associated with Dumas, who was a Black writer responsible for The Three Musketeers, et cetera.

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm.

J Danso: And so, was considered a bit of an outsider, as was Marsha P. Johnson. And so Marsha, the cause of death is still unknown.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

J Danso: And this is something which Marsha’s family in the US, they’re now in New Jersey push very hard [00:19:00] with the Marsha P. Johnson Institute to continue to advocate for the protection, the joy, the emancipation, and the recognition of Black trans life. And you know, sex work is work. And, um, this is then also part of the Hudson tide reference that a bunch of people who relied on sex work and had experienced homelessness was not considered worthy enough by the police investigating at the time to find the true cause of death.

And it’s actually queer community and her family who kept up that pressure to have the case refiled as unsolved and continue to do so through the Marshall P. Johnson Institute through setting up legacy initiatives to have Marsha and her community recognized for the amazing [00:20:00] legacy they leave to queer communities and to human rights in general.

Chanda Rule: Yeah.

J Danso: Yeah. So that’s the literal reason for the reference to the Hudson tide in New York. That is where they found Marsha’s body.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

J Danso: But also, as you say, this water comes through in my work quite often. And I think as a Black African woman, Black African queer woman, and I, and I do feel that I came into visible queerness and a comfort with talking about that very late in my life because of there being so many untruths out there around how Africanness or Blackness is not compatible with queerness, or is not African, or is not this, or is not that. And so often, um, those of us at the intersections of queerness and Blackness may feel that we must make a choice or experience a cognitive dissonance that we [00:21:00] cannot be queer because we are Black or African. And so this opening that we have always been here there everywhere is to say that queerness is absolutely intrinsic to the experience of Blackness.

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm.

J Danso: And amplifies Blackness in that we are permanent, and always will be a permanence present in Black communities.

Chanda Rule: Hmm. Oh, I love this. And I love this symbolism of water. Cause I also use a lot of that with my work. And especially when you’re talking about how you got into writing and how healing it’s been. So I think it’s beautiful that you’re using writing and bringing this healing energy to these topics of queerness in the Black community, trans community. But also, this symbolism to me of water is very healing, of this cleansing, all these issues that you bring up within the poem that it’s like, they’re being baptized with this water as you bring up these issues [00:22:00] as well.

That’s that’s like my little interpretation of it as well.

J Danso: Mm-hmm mm-hmm. Um, it’s also illustratively. I use the symbol of water on every page. This is one of the themes that runs through it. So…

Chanda Rule: Really?

J Danso: It is an illustrated poem.

Chanda Rule: And it’s so subtle.

J Danso: But then this concept of floating and rebirth. So this Marsha story continues and continues to inspire and empower and motivate.

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm.

J Danso: Um, and so there was and is this element of rebirth from the water

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm.

J Danso: where she was found in the Hudson.

Chanda Rule: Yeah. And I also love how you lay out the book makes it… Of course, it’s not written for children, in my opinion, but it could be. I’m thinking of Kite. My son is eight, and he’s read the book. He’s been into it because it’s presented in a way.

J Danso: Oh, Kite read the book!

Chanda Rule: Well, of course.

J Danso: That’s such a compliment.

Chanda Rule: Yeah. Because it’s [00:23:00] presented and written in a way that they can also take this information in. And I think it’s important to educate our youth and yeah, it’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

J Danso: I wanted to say that it is intended to be accessible. Sometimes, queerness and conversations around queerness can feel like you need to know the right language or you need to be in a certain level of education to engage. And that’s absolutely not the case.

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm.

J Danso: Or it can feel as though it’s not something that we can engage our children around.

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm.

J Danso: And I am a mother of three children aged 9 to 15, and that’s not true. We can engage. Queerness is a fact of family life as much as many other aspects of human life. And so this is partly why the illustrated poetry works for me. And it’s kind of, I realize in the tradition again, maybe in my subconscious, a very British thing.

If you think of Winnie the Pooh and the traditional Winnie the Pooh books, you know, the honey bear, Minna [00:24:00] wrote illustrated poetry, Beatrice Potter, Bea – that’s my dyslexia – Beatrice Potter! Beatrice Potter, and, uh, Peter Rabbit, you know, read and enjoyed by adults as much as children. So this is kind a queer, a queerer, more social justice approach to this tradition of imagery, poetry, and literature and stories that are accessible to different ages.

Chanda Rule: Yeah. So, we have a special treat. JG Danzo is going to read an excerpt from her book, A Thousand Ships.

J Danso: Yeah.

Chanda Rule: Ah, read us a bit. I’m excited.

J Danso: It’s a poem that really has… The great thing about when you put your work out there and make it so public is that for each person, it can mean something different, and really it’s been a joy to hear how people, the public received the text as they listen.[00:25:00] And most recently, I was at the Belvedere 21, which is a modern art space associated with the Belvedere in Vienna. And I’ve read at the Mumok, which was then in connection to the work of Andy Warhol, and Marsha P. Johnson, and their legacies, and that very tense relationship there. So it is just beautiful to see how the work is interpreted differently and in so many different spaces.

Chanda Rule: Congratulations by the way, for all these beautiful events you’ve been doing and these wonderful opportunities that you’ve gotten to share your work. It’s beautiful. Congratulations!

J Danso: Yay! Thank you. And especially it’s also… yesterday, I was speaking to somebody who has come from the war in Ukraine and heard the poem, and also said that it resonated with them in terms of these figures of strong women in post-conflict [00:26:00] scenarios and the contribution that women make to that, that it really spoke to them. So that is the beautiful thing about going public with your work, is that it can mean different things to different people and then hearing back how it’s helped them in their journey.

Chanda Rule: Yeah.

J Danso: So, um, I’ll read a snippet.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

J Danso: And who knows how long a snippet will take? It’s quite difficult to cut the flow once I start. So I will try. A Thousand Ships.

I march for you. Will you march for me?

I fight for you. Will you fight for me?

I chant for you. Will you chant for me?

Will I ever matter to you as you have always mattered to me?

Remember this, I am the birth of pride left battered on [00:27:00] the Hudson tide.

Get up. It’s time to march for me. I am more than a snappy one liner or two. I am a movement of force, a caregiver fierce.

Your desire hot. My flesh to pierce. Baby stars left to wipe their own tears.

Feel this. I am the heartbreak of pride, left broken on the Hudson tide.

A spectrum of spirits sail within me. I walked this earth clothed in divinity. Dare you celebrate my complexity, honor this: I am the power of pride resurrected from the Hudson tide.

My patience is out. Damn you. Step aside, we’re done. We command attention from the front, we’re done dying so terribly young.

We are more than a list of lives [00:28:00] stolen. Dreams cut short before they begun. We refuse to let you look away again and again. It’s time for battle not celebration. We will not rest until our people have their rights in every nation.

If you don’t feel ready, we’ll pay it no mind. We’ll see to it no one is left behind. Know this. I am the source spirit, emblem of pride, revolution from the Hudson tide.

Chanda Rule: Mmm.

J Danso: That’s part of it.

Chanda Rule: Thank you. Thank you. This is gorgeous. Tell me this, you know, I know that you are, I don’t know if it was in the past, but I feel like there’s one coming up. You, you are also hosting [00:29:00] writing circles, right?

J Danso: Right. So, the full book of A Thousand Ships, the illustrated poem, you can buy in Vienna, including Hartley Books in the 18th and in the ninth, and also in the ninth Yellow Books, Slogenhertz, um, Orlando, and ChickLit in the first district. So it’s been a very much where can JG Danso go with her legs and drop the book. And that’s where is available from. It’s not available from Amazon yet. I’m thinking of how to get around Amazon and offering it through Amazon, but online, and All Books Vienna is an online, feminist, woman-run, bookshop.

Chanda Rule: Wow. Beautiful.

J Danso: So it is available online and any of the books shops in fact will post it to you or prepare it for you to come pick it up if you would like, and I love signing the books. So, do hit me up if you’d like to have a signed a copy. I can [00:30:00] arrange for that to be collected.

And then with Villa Vida cafe, I’ll be launching a queer writer circle which, um, is committed to supporting queer mental health through highly intersectional, queer-centered storytelling.

Chanda Rule: Tell me about the writer circle, because I think there was also something that you were doing before.

Like it was either before the lockdown or whenever there wasn’t a lockdown, but, I was just curious about what the process is like, are you sharing tips that you have gathered along the way in writing? Or is it more of an open circle where people are just sharing already what they’re doing?

J Danso: Mm. Well it would be a lot about listening to what queer communities want and find helpful. So for the kickoff, it will be to celebrate the different queer voices that come through the cafe and to give space to people who would like to share through an [00:31:00] open mic session.

We also have live music by electric guitarist, Neka Groove, who’s somebody I’ve worked with over the years, a really great talent who’s Paris based. So we’re lucky to have her coming through Vienna and I’ll be working and performing with Neka and she’ll be playing, um, some solo E guitar tracks.

And then, moving forward, the queer writer circle will be a space where we will support different types of queer writers in taking that space to breathe and to think creatively as part of their writing process.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

J Danso: So there’ll be no pressure to share at an open mic, but rather we would do some fun games and things that free up creative energy. We’ll share a little bit, if we would like to, work [00:32:00] that we’ve prepared. So it would be really be around encouraging different types of voices to work creatively through their writing. So comedy, rap, poetry, narratives, all of that great stuff. And to really, you know, ultimately increase the visibility of the masses of diversity and different experiences that there are in intersectional queerness.

Chanda Rule: I love this path, this journey that you are taking us through from you being at this Irish pub to like all these leaps, because there’s so many leaps. So this first show to all these events that you’re doing to now creating and opening or helping other people to do the same things that you’re doing, which I find all this like lion roar courageous. So this is so amazing. And you also have an organization called Hint Wien, right?

J Danso: Yeah. So Hint Wien is an [00:33:00] association registered in Vienna, centered around using storytelling as a tool to empower, give visibility, to enjoy, create spaces of joy for intersectional queer communities. We’ve done that so far by having quarterly performances where queer writers, storytellers can share their work. And then we invite people, queer folks and allies, to come listen. And we’ve been working with VinziRast on that supported by the ninth district. They’ve been really great in seeing the importance of creating these affirming spaces.

Hint, as part of the storytelling work, is looking to tell the stories of experiences of intersectional queerness over generations. So, Villa Vida cafe [00:34:00] is in an important building in Vienna for the LGBTQIA+ community, which is the Turkis Rosa Lila Villa, and this is a organization that goes back 40 years in advocating for LGBTQIA queer empowerment and human rights.

The cafe has become the soul and the hub of this community in terms of turning that legacy into concrete support and activities, and Hint Wien from the cafe space is able to listen to what communities need, and integrate that into events. The cafe has put on the Queer Feminist Festival, which is a beautiful space in which to bring different generations together.

Hint Wien was there with a queer kids corner, which was a beautiful space for rainbow family and allies. Then the colorful narratives series. These are the [00:35:00] events from VinziRast as performance based events of sharing and coming together. And then the queer writer circle. And we’re moving more into the mental health support with Villa Vida cafe in the process of setting up a drop-in for young LGBTQIA people to get qualified support within the community experience, support around mental health, and a mutual aid fund, which we hope will be able to support immediate needs of queer communities in Vienna, especially in the winter where housing becomes a problem and exposure to the elements through lack of housing, homelessness, et cetera.

So it’s many, what is Hint Wien, what is JG Danso? It’s many things, you know. I for so many years compartmentalized the work that I do around human resources. [00:36:00] Human resources management, understanding processes.

Chanda Rule: Okay.

J Danso: And how understanding equality and access and employment. I always kept that separate from then the work that I’ve done on human rights and equalities and policy writing from the writing that I do creatively and the work that I do in community and increasingly, I’m really happy to see that maybe that level of compartmentalization was not necessary, but also to some extent, unhelpful.

Chanda Rule: Mm.

J Danso: Um, and seeing that by the synergies is actually where a lot of the strength is coming from.

Chanda Rule: Yeah. I’m so glad you said that because you know, I’ve been mentioning these leaps that you’re taking. And I was sitting here thinking, okay well, what are the little tiny steps in between? What is it that, so if someone’s listening and they’re still at that writing on the washing machine step, and they’re like, oh my God, how did she get from there to all [00:37:00] this, but…

J Danso: The washing machine thing stays.

Chanda Rule: It stays. It stays? No, but I’m glad that you said that because it is like bringing all these different parts and talents and things that we have in other like areas that are our lives, other boxes, we put things in and bringing them together.

And it seems like that makes up a lot of the little steps. There’s so much that you already had, that you were able to just kind of blend into your creative process, if I’m understanding you correctly.

J Danso: Mm mm. And when I exactly, as you put it so well, it’s just blending and the more, as soon as I accepted that the blending was okay.

Chanda Rule: Mm.

J Danso: It’s not what I’d seen modeled for me growing up. I’m not from a creative family and so I kind of figured if I wanted to earn money and if I wanted to have financial security, then I needed to have a job that looked like [00:38:00] this. And then, for mental health or spirituality, either the church or some other practice that looked like this and that these, as a Black woman working in spaces that were, are white majority and where I saw very few Black women working in policy in decision making, in politics, around human resources, making in a way that really changed processes and how whole organizations work, how organizations with histories that go back hundreds of years that are highly visible. But yet at the top, when it came to the decision making, you know, our representation, our decision making contributions continued to be undervalued. And that is, I guess, the frustration with being in those kind of spaces is what feeds into my creative process to some extent also. Why are we missing from those spaces? Our voices are important.

Chanda Rule: Mm-hmm.

J Danso: And with creative work, I have so much [00:39:00] more freedom to say what I want and what I feel needs must be said in a way that really was limiting when working and representing the interest of other organizations.

And so once I began to accept that this blending was actually very necessary for me, as well as helpful, you know, because the mental health toll of always compartmentalizing, always code switching, was actually undermining doing anything in a way that was nourishing or sustainable long term.

So this blending has come about out of necessity and urgency for my mental health also, ’cause I just could not sustain keeping these things separate and boxed in anymore.

Chanda Rule: Oh, this is beautiful. I’m gonna take this away. And I say this every time, I feel so lucky to be able to have these conversations because I get so much from them.

And that is a word that [00:40:00] I needed to hear. So thank you. Thank you for sharing that. Listen, where can people find you for many things for your book, for your events, and to also hit you up and tell you how amazing and courageous that you are? Where can we find you?

J Danso: You can tell me I’m amazing courageous via


my go-to platform right now is the Instagram. I do reply to messages, because in Instagram I have a link where I have my link tree, and there I update the events, you can also listen to interviews that I’ve done on other platforms and get an idea of my work in that way. So my Instagram is at J G Danso.

Danso is D A N S O. I also have a website which should be finished by the time this podcast broadcasts. It’s JG Danso dot net. And I do [00:41:00] post on Facebook sometimes, but less and less. So yeah, check out my Instagram, send me a message there. I would love to hear your thoughts and how work resonates with you or ideas you have for what you would like to see in queer intersectional organizing and creative writing.

Chanda Rule: Beautiful. And if someone is interested in Hint Wien, is there a separate Instagram or should they hit you up at J G Danso?

J Danso: Yeah. So Hint Wien also has an Instagram it’s @Hint.Wien, Wien is W I E N. And yeah, we are looking to connect with community organizations who are looking to give platforms to creative writers, to comedy, rap stars, narratives, poetry.

Check in regularly, please with the Instagram for Hint Wien and J G Danso where details will be kept [00:42:00]

Chanda Rule: Wow.

J Danso: and posted.

Chanda Rule: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing your beautiful self, your beautiful words, your book, and all this wonderful inspiration. Thank you.

J Danso: Oh, thank you, Chanda. And you know, you’ve been such an inspiration for many, many years, and really the influence that you’ve been of all being out there and doing your thing and with Kite, you know, ’cause as moms, it takes courage to put yourself first sometimes.

Chanda Rule: Hmm.

J Danso: Um, and seeing you do that has been so important to me. So thank you for asking me in today because I love you and all you’re doing. Yeah.

Chanda Rule: Thank you. Thank you. So y’all enjoy, check out J G Danso, check out @Hint.Wien, and we will see you soon. Tell a friend and subscribe and rate.

J Danso: Thank you, Chanda.[00:43:00]