Visibili-T is dedicated to transgender members of our community in Central Florida and Tampa Bay, some you know and many you don’t. It is designed to amplify their voices and detail their experiences in life.
This issue, we check in with Ash Hawk, a nonbinary native of Pinellas County whose creative outlets include painting, sculpting and performing in drag. They’ve done so for nearly six years throughout Tampa Bay as Lilith Black.
It was Hawk’s interest in mythology that inspired the persona.
“Lilith has been a name that’s always existed in my life, ever since I was a child,” they explain. “I was raised religious and I’ve always been interested in the various religious practices of the world.
“In Biblical mythology, Lilith is the first woman before Eve,” Hawk says. “She was made in the same image and out of the same materials as Adam but was made to be subservient to him and to lie beneath him. She refused and was cast out and turned into the mother of all demons. The simple fact that she refused her ‘womanly role’ is what turned her into a monster.”
Hawk adds that Lilith is also an allegory for the trans experience. The female figure was made in the image of a male counterpart.
“So as a drag persona, Lilith is my connection to feminine suppression and speaking out against misogyny,” they explain. “Lilith is very important to me in those realms, but also she’s kind of my way to be my truest self and express myself in a way that is unfiltered and unobstructed by the way that society wants us to exist.”
As someone who is panromantic and asexual, Hawk has fought for that right in and outside of LGBTQ+ spaces for years. They initially came out as a gay male at 13 before coming out at 19 as trans, having been given the resources and tools to understand the nuances of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
Asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction to others, or a low/absent interest in or desire for sexual activity. Panromanticism involves being romantically or emotionally attracted to others regardless of their gender identity.
“It can be hard to navigate gay spaces as someone who doesn’t function the same way romantically and sexually as most people in those spaces,” Hawk explains. “It’s easy for most people to make new friends and to communicate with others when you are in a space with those who are like you, but I felt ostracized from queer spaces for a while because so many are gay-centric.”
Hawk eventually found more trans-centered spaces and met others like them. It’s an experience they wish more people understood in the LGBTQ+ community at large.
“If someone seems different than you and you don’t know why, just treat them like anyone else,” they say. “Talk to them like you would someone that you do initially have that connection with, and you’ll be surprised at the people that you’ll meet and the love that they have to spread. We’re all different but we can all connect if we just open up to one another.”
That ideology is one they’ve shared in recent months as one of the organizers of Drag 2 Talle. The initiative raised funds to send drag performers to Tallahassee during the state’s anti-LGBTQ+ legislative session.
“Something that’s really important to my identity outside of just being trans is being autistic,” Hawk explains. “A lot of autistic people have just this innate sense of justice, or more like an inability to keep quiet when we see injustice. So for most of my life, I’ve been this keyboard warrior trying to fight these battles in spaces that weren’t receptive to what I had to say.”
That changed recently. On April 25, Hawk was among the 100+ entertainers and activists from across the state to protest anti-LGBTQ+ and specifically anti-trans bills being passed by Florida’s Republican-dominated State Legislature.
The experience led them to partner with other local activists and organizations before and after that, something they’ll continue to do.
“We went up and down to Tallahassee for the last six weeks and I luckily only had to miss one,” Hawk notes. “We got to speak in front of legislators to pretty much no avail, but it was an igniting force in getting us all really excited about getting involved in politics.”
That’s because the political is personal to them.
“It goes without saying, but Trans Lives Matter,” Hawk stresses. “And that does not just mean binary trans people. I think the future is trans and acceptance is what we need to lead with.”
Interested in being featured in Visibili-T? Email Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Williams in Central Florida or Managing Editor Ryan Williams-Jent in Tampa Bay.