On Aug. 3, Emma C. Eisenberg wrote an investigative report for the Washington Put up, relating to the mishandling of donations by the favored Instagram account that featured the tales of LGBTQ+ folks from rural areas and the South.
Preserve studying for every little thing you could find out about Queer Appalachia, its founder, Mamone, and what’s taking place to the model right now.
What occurred with the Queer Appalachia account?
Queer Appalachia’s Instagram account began in 2016 and grew an enormous following for its “celebration of queer voices and identities.” The social media account shared pro-trans and leftist memes and let followers in on rural life.
Given the dearth of Appalachian illustration within the mainstream media, the rise of QA’s social following was extra welcome than stunning. Shortly after it began, the group’s founder, beforehand often known as Gina Mamone, who now solely goes by their final title, Mamone, used the account’s rising reputation to start to gather cash from its followers to assist social initiatives within the Appalachian area.
Because the Washington Put up exposé places it, “The mission clearly aspired not simply to chronicle the experiences of queer folks in Appalachia, however to repair lots of the issues it was figuring out. Fixes that required cash.”
Over the course of the previous 4 years, Mamone and the Queer Appalachia account, which isn’t a registered nonprofit group, have raised funds by inauthentic claims (like asking followers for Hurt Discount provide donations when their cupboards have been “filled with donated provides”) and extremely opaque means (like by no means updating followers about how a lot cash was raised or the place the cash was despatched).
Actually, former volunteer Leo, who spoke to Washington Put up for the piece, claimed that shortly after Queer Appalachia was awarded a $300,000 grant, Mamone “drove as much as the assembly in a brand new truck, fully with ‘each bell and whistle’.”
“I simply thought it was such a f— you to the entire folks, the poor and working-class individuals who had given their cash [to Queer Appalachia] with out actually understanding or figuring out the place it was going,” he stated.
Mamone, a West Virginia-based artist, began QA as an art-driven zine earlier than it developed into the alleged mutual assist collaborative it claimed to be. In addition they began Riot Grrrl Ink, which referred to as itself the “the most important queer report label on the earth” (and coaxed artists to work with them beneath the guise of bringing them onto the label) even though the label is to today not credited “as producing any albums or songs.”
With reference to QA, Mamone stated “the Instagram alone will get about 10,000 DMs a day,” in an interview with Esquire from earlier this summer time. “We do not even find the money for to pay folks to do it ethically,” they continued. Two quick months after the Esquire profile, that declare makes more and more extra sense.
What’s taking place with Queer Appalachia now?
All of that is background for what occurred when the Washington Put up article dropped on Aug. 3. That day, Mamone took to social media to put up a sequence of “thinly veiled makes an attempt at deflection and misdirection,” in line with followers.
One commented, “Mamone, I feel it’s best to begin figuring out your self in your statements in order that individuals are clear that though QA has leveraged the art work / visions / abilities and phrases of a large group of artists, the initiative is actually you and your accomplice. And every of those egregious lies, manipulations, exploitation’s and abuses have been carried out by you.”
Mamone referred to as the exposé, which to be clear, was solely asking for transparency as to the place the good-faith funds had been allotted, “a poorly written hit piece that sees disorganization and my psychological sickness and reframes it into immorality.”
“It is filled with inaccuracies and stretching, and I discover myself shocked the way it was even revealed,” Mamone added, calling the calls for for accountability “metronormative.”
The backlash solely grew when followers realized that Queer Appalachia was deleting feedback and questions from BIPOC who have been coming to the platform to share their typically disagreeable and exploitative expertise with the group, and issues lastly got here to a head on the night of Aug. 6, when the account posted its newest replace.
“QA DECOLONIZED,” it reads. “Queer Appalachia is formally beneath new administration. This platform has been taken over by pressure. Your calls for for de-platforming have been heard. Please be affected person and remember to buckle your seatbelts.”
The account now appears to be run by one J, a Black activist from WV, who had beforehand denounced Mamone for manipulating, exploiting him for months, and later dropping him after promising a big sum of cash for a continued collaboration.
In line with the accounts’ newest put up, made by volunteer Leo who had spoken to WaPo within the first place, this present takeover is “very momentary” whereas a “coalition of Black and Indigenous creatives in Appalachia within the South” is put ahead to make selections on the way forward for the group.
Preserve following @QueerAppalachia for all the most recent updates almost about the account.