VINTAGE & ART
JUNE 26 2020
My name is Cody and I am the founder and artist at Gold Star Art, established in 2016. Up until recently, Gold Star was based out of Studio Two Three, a wonderful safe space in Richmond VA where I could do what I love: screen-printing.
For what it’s worth, I am agender, and queer-identified. I was assigned F at birth, and am perceived by many to be masculine in presentation (for those who abide by binary stereotypes). My gender is not male or “masc”. These are not my words and this is not my identity. My chest does not equal “nudes”; which is sexualized and demeaning.
In late 2016, I signed up for the VIDA grant offered by the State of Virginia to launch my passion as an artist. There were many steps I had to accomplish, including filling out an extensive application, opening a bank account, making monthly deposits, taking a series of online financial classes, and writing a business plan including projected budgets. Celina Nicole, a talented writer, savvy person, and my friend, spent a lot of time and helped me immensely with completing the business plan and budget portion of the tasks. She believed in my business and what it stood for, and when I asked her if she would lend me her wisdom/talents, she was enthusiastic and eager to help me as a friend. Her assistance in applying for this grant allowed me to invest in my embroidery machine and photo printer (plus a bunch of ink), among other tools for creation.
A recent social media campaign has resulted in me losing my creative workspace at Studio Two Three, harassment of my friends and fellow makers, transphobia and humiliation, and essentially being called out as a masculine, anti-Black misogynist. I have until now tried waiting it out (while seeking professional help), but at this point I have no choice but to post here. I am an otherwise quiet person, but this is extremely harmful. It’s intended to hurt, destroy, defame, and malign. It’s also intended to be bulletproof. If I speak, I am taking up space and invalidating, am anti-Black, a masculine perpetrator attempting to manipulate. But I need to speak now for my friends and followers who are being similarly attacked and publicly humiliated, for my partner, for my business, and for me.
Celina, I am sorry that I did not publicly praise you for your efforts with Gold Star. You absolutely deserve to be acknowledged. You went above and beyond and while your efforts were never a secret, I truly regret that I have hurt you with this invalidation. I did not appreciate the full impact of not acknowledging your friendship and efforts publically and for that, I am truly sorry. I have never felt or demonstrated hate towards anyone, but I understand that racism is bigger than conscious pain and hate. It is insidious and complex as a system; it is privilege, access, and apathy. I am grateful for the many discussions we had and the knowledge you introduced to me, and I will continue to strive to educate myself further.
Ultimately, I am Gold Star Art, and I appreciate you and everyone who has supported me and helped me grow my business and my brand in the name of my philosophy (see 'About'), which I stand unwaveringly by. My battles have always been for the rights of animals and the earth, with tender spots also for the elderly and forgotten. I am grateful for my ability to provide thoughtful pieces of art to delight, inspire, and incite action and change, often on the micro level.
We had a complex friendship spanning four years, but I am very reluctant to post screenshots from the other side. I will not narrate the ways in which what has/is happening feels like (and has been) a crusade to destroy me. I cannot continue my reticence while being harassed and defamed publically, regardless of the mental wellness of the other person, but I will not contribute to reinforcing this cycle of public harm.