Be Your Own Kind Of Beautiful: Laura Albert in conversation with Eva Echo

During my recent lecture at the Humanities Symposium of Utah Valley University, I highlighted, “What’s needed is to be serious and objective about the realities that exist around us. And we see that gender, which is multi-faceted, is not being dealt with seriously and objectively; instead, it’s being reduced to something simpler. That reduction of our understanding has its roots in the effort to exert control over the behavior of people.” An important activist in the fight to break this control is Eva Echo (she/they), who has been shortlisted as Unsung Hero Of The Year 2022 by Diva Magazine and nominated for Positive Role Model (LGBT) in the National Diversity Awards. A writer and public speaker with a special focus on transgender rights and mental-health issues, Eva has made an impact using her own experiences to shed light on what it is to be transgender and to challenge the obstacles confronting gender-diverse people in today’s society. Eva is also a brand ambassador for the London Transgender Clinic; part of Gendered Intelligence’s GIANTS programme; a member of the We Create Space advisory board; and Head of Communication and Engagement at Birmingham Pride. She sits on the Crown Prosecution Service’s hate crime panel and is one of Pride Life Global’s Pride Inclusion advocates. And since 2012 Eva has been a Guinness World Record holder, playing the World’s Largest Full Drum Kit Ensemble.

In the first part of my discussion with Eva Echo, we discuss the power of names and the empowerment of naming oneself, along with the different ways art can help people locate their true selves.

Laura Albert

Laura Albert has won international acclaim for her fiction. Writing as JT LeRoy, she is the author of the best-selling novels Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, and the novella Harold's End. Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, reissued by HarperCollins, have also been released as audiobooks by Blackstone Publishing. Laura Albert is the subject of Jeff Feuerzeig's feature documentary Author: The JT LeRoy Story and Lynn Hershman Leeson's film The Ballad of JT LeRoy. She has written for The New York Times, The Forward, The London Times, Spin, Man About Town, Vogue, Film Comment, Interview, L'Équipe Sport&Style, Filmmaker, I-D, and others – more recently, the cover article for Man About Town and her reflections on fashion for VESTOJ. A writer for the HBO series "Deadwood," she also wrote the original script for Gus Van Sant's Elephant and was the film's Associate Producer. She has written the short films Radiance for Drew Lightfoot and ContentMode, and Dreams of Levitation and Warfare of Pageantry for Sharif Hamza and Nowness. For Tiempo de Literatura 2020's “The Narrative Universe of Laura Albert,” she engaged in a wide-ranging ZOOM conversation with Fernanda Melchor, International Booker Prize Shortlist author for her acclaimed novel Hurricane Season. Twitter: @lauraalbert Instagram: @laura_albert