Parker Smith, 23, just moved to Charlotte two months ago, hired after they graduated from Appalachian State University to work as Time Out Youth’s trans outreach worker. There, Smith runs Q-tribe, the organization’s trans-specific support group. Smith, who identifies their gender as non-binary, jumped headfirst into organizing the first week they were in town, running a clothing drive for trans youth and other clients at Time Out Youth. Sitting down for coffee at Amelie’s in NoDa, Smith chatted a bit about their life, likes and thoughts.
Where did you grow up?
I sort of grew up in the Taylorsville area. I grew up on Lake Hickory.
What did you study?
I started with anthropology. I was very interested in cultural studies and activism and I thought it intersected very well. Then I realized I absolutely love digging through dead people’s trash. It’s so fun. I had a six-week-long testing, excavated three different sites in the Boone area. Another was on a farm in Todd, N.C., and one was on Grandfather Mountain.
How are you liking Charlotte?
It’s such a big city. I’m not used to this. I lived in Boone and in Hickory and in Newton. It’s the biggest town I’ve ever been in. The biggest transition has been all the driving. Here you have to find a ride. You have to have transportation.
Since you studied film, I have to ask — what’s your favorite genre and film?
My favorite genre is horror and within that genre my favorite film would be “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” It is a German expressionism movie and it was made in either the ‘10s or ‘20s and it is considered one of the first horror movies ever created. It’s weird, sort of like Tim Burton, who took some from it. Emotions are represented in set pieces and it’s freaky and awesome and I love it.
So what do you think about the controversy over director Roland Emmerich’s film on the Stonewall Riots? Some people are mad about the film excluding trans people and people of color. Others say you shouldn’t “judge a book by its cover” and hold off until seeing the film.
I am basing my judgment not only on my personal beliefs, but also the director. He’s not had a very good record as far as films go. He did that “10,000 BC” film. It’s a travesty. Most of his work is not something I enjoy. The trailer looks quality. It looks like it will look good and like it will have a good plot, but based on history, I can’t support it; throwing people to the wayside, like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Mis Major. I can’t support it at all. I think the issue is that people are going to watch it as if it is historically accurate, and if it is portrayed as a based on a true story and these are the true people, then it will misrepresent the entire movement, which has already been happening for years. But now it will misrepresent the movement to a much larger group of people and it will stick around for a while.
What about music? What’s your fave?
I’m from Boone, so I love bluegrass. I love radical folk music. I’m in jam with that. People like the Carolina Chocolate Drops. I also like pschobilly music — the Nekromatix, the Koffin Kats. It’s like rockabilly, but a little more rough and tumble. I will listen to just about anything — weird, weird stuff and then mainstream stuff, too.
Endless money and opportunities? Steak and lobster. I’m classic.
What’s your favorite season?
Winter is my favorite season. I’m going to struggle a lot here in the winter. There’s not much snow and I’m used to snow.
Burgundy or copper. My favorite colors are what I like to wear. I’m big on earthy tones. Dark greens, browns. Burgundy is my favorite red option.
Trans rights and inclusion are really coming up as big community issues. What should folks in the LGB community be doing to help increase trans awareness and equality?
I think there’s a lot of misinformation. I think there’s a large lack of information out there circulating in the LGB community, and not everyone, but a lot of people are not willing to put in the research. I feel like sometimes, people are willing to look at what they are doing and say this is a problem and this is the reason why it is a problem. I think in the LGB community — and as a bi person, I am a part of the LGB community — there’s this tendency to think that you can’t be transphobic or mysogynistic just because you’re already in an oppressed group. People need to learn to start realizing to let go a little bit, be more self critical and willing to learn a little more, because that’s going to help us out a lot and forward the movement and get people more interested in trans rights. : :